Study Guide

All's Well That Ends Well Act 1, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

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Act 1, Scene 2

Read the full text of All's Well That Ends Well Act 1 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • In Paris, we drop in on the old and sickly king of France at his royal court.
  • The king is facing a dilemma: Florence and Siena (two towns in Italy) are at war and Florence wants France's help.
  • The king of France doesn't want to get involved in some messy foreign war, so he decides that France is officially going to stay out of it. But if some of his young noblemen want to volunteer to fight, that's fine with him. His advisers think this is a good idea.
  • Bertram, Lafeu, and Paroles show up. They've just arrived from Roussillon.
  • The king is super-happy to see Bertram. The kid looks just like his old man, who was good pals with the king before he died.
  • Seeing Bertram's face makes the king miss the good old days when he and Bertram's father were young, healthy, and had the their whole lives ahead of them.
  • The king says that, back in the day, Bertram's dad was the greatest guy ever. It's just too bad that young kids today aren't more like him.
  • Yeah. That's code for "Why can't you be more like your dead father?"
  • Here's where things start to get a little depressing. The king remembers how Bertram's dad used to go around saying that he wanted to die young because getting old sucks.
  • It gets worse. The king goes on to say that he wishes he could be with Bertram's dad right now. (Read: The king thinks that getting old does really does suck and he wishes he were dead. Hmm. Maybe he should go talk to King Lear.)
  • One of the lords responds by basically saying, “yeah, we're really gonna miss you when you're gone." (Obviously, this guy needs some sensitivity training.)
  • The king is matter of fact. He says he knows he's replaceable: once he's dead and gone, someone else will just come along and be crowned king. No big whoop.
  • Speaking of dying, says the king, how long has it been since that famous doctor (Helen's dad) passed away?
  • Six months, says Bertram.
  • That's too bad, says the king. If the doctor were still alive, he'd try to hire him to cure his disease. The king has gone through just about every doctor in France and nobody's been able to help him.

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