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Quote #10

My lord, I am a man whom fortune hath cruelly
scratched. (5.2.4)

In many ways, All's Well is a play about the reversal of social fortune. When Paroles is revealed to be a liar and a coward, he loses his friends and his social status, showing up in France as a beggar whose fortune has been reversed. In other words, Paroles has now been punished for his behavior. We can also say that Paroles' fate turns out to be the exact opposite of Helen's. As we know, Helen goes from being a "poor physician's daughter" to the wife of a noble count.

Quote #11

The King's a beggar now the play is done. (Epilogue)

In the previous passage, we pointed out that Helen's and Paroles' social fortunes are reversed by the play's end. Here, the actor playing the role of the king steps out on stage to "beg" for the audience's applause. Of course, the king isn't actually a beggar (he's still the king of France, after all), but this is a subtle reminder that the play is interested in the possibility of one's fortune being reversed. As Shakespeare was writing All's Well, social class was becoming more fluid; basically, just because a person was born into a certain class, they didn't necessarily have to stay put. The Epilogue hints at that.

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