Study Guide

All's Well That Ends Well Act 3, Scene 7

By William Shakespeare

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Act 3, Scene 7

Read the full text of All's Well That Ends Well Act 3 Scene 7 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Over at Diana's place, Helen has been busy trying to convince the Widow that she's not just some random pilgrim—she's actually Bertram's estranged wife.
  • Helen has hatched a plot to get her husband back and she wants the Widow's help.
  • Our Widow is just a tad skeptical, so Helen whips out a big bag of gold to help convince her that she actually is who she says she is.
  • Helen wants the Widow's daughter (Diana) to ask Bertram for his ring, which has been in his family for five generations. (Remember when Bertram said he'd never treat Helen like a real wife unless she could get the ring off his finger? This is the very same ring.)
  • Tricky little Helen reasons that Diana should have no problem getting the ring since Bertram is so hot to go to bed with her.
  • Helen also wants Diana to agree to sleep with Bertram and set up a time and place to do the deed. Then, Helen will sneak into Diana's bed at the last minute, taking her place and tricking Bertram into having sex with her in the dark.
  • Brain Snack: This is what's called a classic bed trick, a plot device that shows up a lot in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century literature. Shakespeare is a huge fan of the bed trick. There's even one in his play Measure for Measure.
  • Helen sweetens the pot by saying that she'll even give Diana 3,000 crowns (coins) for her wedding dowry if the plan goes off without a hitch.
  • The widow agrees that this is a win-win situation. They'll do it tonight, since Bertram is probably going to show up under Diana's window later that evening.
  • The women know the bed trick is kind of sleazy, but they insist that it's completely lawful for them to play Bertram. Basically, Helen reasons that, since she's Bertram's lawfully wedded wife, it's perfectly fine for her to trick him into sleeping with her; after all, sex between a husband and wife is considered a "lawful deed" (as opposed to sex outside of marriage, which was illegal).

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