Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Let's see. The play opens with a lot of dark, depressing talk about dead dads, gross diseases, and an ailing king. (Oh, did we mention the bummed out orphans and the grieving widow?) To round out all this death and decay business, Shakespeare tosses in a forced marriage and ends the play by showing us a man who's basically forced to stay with a woman he never loved and never wanted to marry. Needless to say, All's Well is pretty cynical about love and it questions the idea that marriage can make anyone happy.
We know what you're thinking. Shakespearean comedies are supposed to have a light, humorous tone. What's this play's problem? Is it having an identity crisis? Does it secretly want to be a tragedy? Well, maybe. Go to "Genre" and we'll tell you why.