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Shakespeare Quotes: All's well that ends well

All's well that ends well Introduction

I'm Helen. I'm gutsy, smart, and pretty, but, alas, none of that has helped me land the guy of my dreams. But don't worry, I've always got a plan. And you know what I think?

Yet, I pray you:
But with the word the time will bring on summer,
When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns,
And be as sweet as sharp. We must away;
Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us:
All's well that ends well; still the fine's the crown;
Whate'er the course, the end is the renown. (4.4.30-36)

Who Said It and Where

Once upon a time, there was a poor, orphaned girl named Helen, who fell head over heels in love with the man of her dreams, the very rich and oh-so dreamy French count of Roussillon.

Sounds like the makings of a classic fairy tale, right? Well, before you go dreaming up ways to turn this story into some kind of blockbuster animated feature (yeah, we're talking to you, Disney), you might want to read All's Well that Ends Well for the Shakespearean version.

That dreamy French count we just mentioned? Well, it turns out that he's a snob and a player who wants absolutely nothing to do with our heroine. In order to land this Prince-Not-So-Charming and have her happily ever after, Helen has to ditch the Cinderella routine and man up. Literally.

In order to win the big prize (a husband who loves her), she has to take on the role of a male "quester" (look out Frodo Baggins), who must complete a bunch of impossible and embarrassing tasks:

  • Cure a dying king who's been suffering from a fantastically disgusting illness known as a fistula. 
  • Get the ring off the finger of the guy who hates her and refuses to go anywhere near her.
  • Trick the same guy into sleeping with her and getting her pregnant.

If this freaky story seems like an R-rated hybrid between The Bachelorette, The Lord of the Rings, and an episode of The Jerry Springer Show, well, you're not wrong. But it's actually one of Shakespeare's dark and twisty plays—one that has provoked a bunch of discussion over the years. (Seriously, you should check it out for yourself.)

Helen is close to completing those impossible tasks when she says this line. Everything is falling into place when she begins to wonder how Bertram (the guy she loves) could possibly love the person he hates the most (ahem, her).

Oh, and before the play is up, she'll say it again. And you might have noticed it's also the title of the play. So yeah, we're guessing it's a big deal.

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