Study Guide

All's Well That Ends Well Act 4, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

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Act 4, Scene 2

Read the full text of All's Well That Ends Well Act 4 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Meanwhile, Bertram has arrived at Diana's window and is trying to get all Romeo and Juliet on us. (By the way, you did notice that Diana's last name is Capilet, didn't you? Sounds a lot like Capulet, don't you think?) Anyway, Diana, of course, won't have any of it.
  • Bertram compares the lovely virgin to her to her namesake, Diana, the goddess of chastity (a.k.a. Virginity).
  • Bertram also insists that Diana is way too hot to remain a virgin and says that she better watch out or she'll turn into a statue. He basically calls her an ice-princess because she won't give it up to him.
  • To top it off, Bertram says that Diana should do the thing that her mom was doing at the exact moment Diana was conceived. Hint, hint.
  • Diana points out that, hello, her mom was married when she had sex and made babies with her dad. Speaking of which, she says, where's your wife?
  • Bertram doesn't want to talk about it.
  • He begins to sulk.
  • He swears up and down that he loves Diana and only got married because he was forced to do so.
  • Diana points out that guys like Bertram will say just about anything to get a girl into bed but after they get what they want, they change their tune.
  • Bertram declares that his love for Diana is holy and swears that he'll love her forever.
  • Brain Snack: This is a pretty standard pick-up line in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century literature. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, Shakespeare's hormone-driven teenagers are always running around saying things like "Call me but love and I'll be new baptized" (Romeo and Juliet, 2.1.93). Obviously, the big difference between Bertram and our favorite star-crossed lovers is that Romeo and Juliet actually mean it when they say their love is holy.
  • Diana says she wants Bertram to prove it... by giving her his ring.
  • Bertram says he can lend it to her but it's not his to give away since it's been in his family for generations; it would be disgraceful for him to lose it.
  • Diana says that, actually, her virginity is exactly like Bertram's ring. If she were to just give it away, it would bring dishonor to her and her family. (Pay attention here: this ring has taken on a whole lot of symbolic meaning.)
  • Bertram yanks the ring off his finger and offers the ring to Diana. He'll do anything to be with her.
  • Diana accepts the ring and tells him to knock on her bedroom window at midnight. But wait! He has to promise not to talk to her before, during, or after they have sex.
  • Also, Diana's going to put another ring on his finger after they do it and Bertram shouldn't take it off until she says it's okay to do so. (We'll find out why later.)
  • Diana reminds Bertram that, after she sleeps with him, it's going to destroy her chances of getting married since nobody will want her when she's no longer a virgin.
  • Bertram couldn't really care less, and he leaves.
  • Alone on stage, Diana tells us that her mom was right. She knew exactly what kinds of promises Bertram would make if Diana agreed to hook up with him.
  • We find out that Bertram has promised to marry Diana if his wife ever dies. (This will be important later.)
  • Diana thinks that all boys are the same and says that they only want one thing. And worse, they will lie, cheat, beg, borrow, and steal to get it.
  • She declares that she'll never, ever, ever get married.
  • At this point, she's convinced that Bertram deserves the trick she and Helen are about to play on him.
  • P.S. If you're into mullets and ‘80s-style Shakespeare, you'll definitely want to watch this 1981 film clip of Bertram trying to put the moves on Diana.

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