Short Summary and critical analysis of "All Is Well That Ends Well" by William Shakespeare




The play is a light hearted story of the foolishness of a count in avoiding the true love of Helena, a gentlewoman. While the entire circle of his loved ones wants him to marry the lady, he falls to ill advices of his assistant. However, towards the end of the play, the issues are resolved and the count reconciles to Helena.

Helena is a wondrous beauty of character and body. She has proved very kind to the king of France by relieving him from his disease when all medicines failed. She had a rare medicine once prepared by her father. The king recovered due to that medicine. The king of France, under gratitude to the lady, asked her to desire anything she wanted. Helena, the beauty queen, requested the king to marry her to the count of Rousillon, Bertram. The king promised her of the same.

On the other hand, the count fell to the ill advices of his assistant. He resisted the marriage to Helena because she belongs to a lower class. The king advocates her case:

She is young, wise, fair;
In these to nature she's immediate heir”

However, under the pressure of the king, Bertram marries Helena. But he also vows not to bed Helena because he does not love her. After his marriage to Helena, Bertram goes away with the excuse of taking part in a war. Upon learning the details of the matter, Helena declares that she is going to visit holy shrines and does not intend to return home.

The news is sent to Bertram. In the meantime, Helena reaches the place where Bertram is staying. She stays at the house of a widow and her daughter, Diana. She offers them a bag of gold to help her. Widow’s daughter tells her that Bertram often visits their house to flirt with her while Bertram’s assistant also gives her money for flirting with Bertam. Helena just asks her to continue the flirt and get the ring from the hands of Bertram. Diana agrees to this.

Time passes by and Diana succeeds in getting the ring from his hand. Later, when Bertram returns to his hometown, Helena asks Diana and her mother to follow Bertram. They do as told by Helena. In France, the king is told of the sad demise of Helena and he decides to wed the young count to the daughter of another count. Diana reaches the spot and accuses Bertram of spoiling her youth upon the promise of marriage. Bertram denies but she presents the ring of Bertram. The king is convinced.

Here enters Helena, she unveils the truth behind the whole episode exposing the stupidity and foolishness of Bertram. The king praises the wisdom of Helena and asks Bertram to reconcile to her. The countess is also very happy to see Helena alive. She asks her son not to lose the beauty of Helena. Bertram apologizes for his foolish deeds and expresses his love for Helena.

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