Read the full text of All's Well That Ends Well Act 3 Scene 5 with a side-by-side translation HERE.
In Italy, Bertram's troop has returned from the battlefield and is now parading through the streets of Florence.
Bertram has become a famous war hero and everyone wants a piece of him before his fifteen minutes of fame are up.
A widow (whose name, conveniently, is Widow) and her daughter (an unmarried virgin named Diana) are watching the guys return from battle.
It turns out that Bertram's pal Paroles has solicited Diana on Bertram's behalf. (Translation: Paroles told Diana that Bertram wants to hook up with her.)
Then a woman named Mariana (the resident busy-body neighbor) warns Diana that a girl's reputation is EVERYTHING, so she should stay away from Paroles and Bertram.
We find out that Bertram is a love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of guy. With Paroles' help, he's been going around seducing Italian virgins and ruining their reputations.
Diana's not worried about it. She's a smart girl and knows enough to stay away from the likes of Bertram.
Just then, Helen shows up wearing her pilgrim get-up.
(Remember, a pilgrim is just a person on a religious pilgrimage to a holy place. Pilgrims were also called “palmers” because they often carried palm leaves on their journeys, like the characters in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.)
She says she's on her way to the shrine of St. Jaques and wants the name of the motel where all the other pilgrims stay.
We interrupt this program for a geography lesson. We plotted out Helen's little road trip on Google Maps and found out that our girl is a WAY off course. (See for yourself here .) If Helen started out in Roussillon (in the south of France) and is headed for St. Jaques' shrine (which is in Santiago de Compostella, Spain), what the heck is she doing in Florence, Italy? Did Shakespeare snooze his way through his European geography class, or did Helen decide to take a detour so she could track down her husband? You decide.
The widow just so happens to be an inn keeper (how convenient!) so she invites Helen to stay at her place.
She also shares some local gossip with Helen. There's a yummy French soldier living in Florence. Word on the street is that he ran away from home because the king married him against his will.
Helen's ears perk up.
The widow tells her that Bertram has been trying to seduce her virginal daughter but that Diana won't have any of it.
Just then, Bertram and his army march by.
Diana sighs and says Bertram sure is dreamy. It's just too bad that he's always trying to cheat on his poor wife.
When the ladies spot Paroles, they start to heckle him. Diana calls him a "jackanapes" (a monkey) and the widow yells out "Marry, hang you!" (That's Shakespeare speak for "I hope you drop dead!")
Taunting Paroles has made the ladies hungry, and they run off to grab a bite to eat together.