List iconAll’s Well That Ends WellList icon

All’s Well That Ends Well
Act 1, scene 3

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

In All’s Well That Ends Well, a woman is given in marriage to the man she longs for, but, because she…

Act 1, scene 1

Bertram, having become a ward of the court upon his father’s death, departs from Rossillion. Helen, whose own physician-father has…

Act 1, scene 2

The King of France refuses to take sides in the war between Siena and Florence, giving his courtiers permission to…

Act 1, scene 3

Bertram’s mother, the Countess of Rossillion, learns of Helen’s love for Bertram and forces Helen to confess this secret. When…

Act 2, scene 1

The King bids farewell to the French courtiers going off to war, having commanded Bertram to remain behind. Helen arrives…

Act 2, scene 2

The Countess sends the Fool to the court with a letter for Helen.

Act 2, scene 3

Having cured the King, Helen is given several courtiers from whom to choose a husband as her reward. When she…

Act 2, scene 4

Parolles brings Helen word that Bertram is leaving for Tuscany and that she is to get permission from the King…

Act 2, scene 5

Bertram is warned that Parolles is an untrustworthy coward. Bertram gives Helen a letter and instructs her to go immediately…

Act 3, scene 1

The Duke of Florence greets French courtiers who have come to fight on his side.

Act 3, scene 2

The Fool returns to Rossillion with a letter from Bertram that tells the Countess of his plan to run away…

Act 3, scene 3

Bertram is put in command of the Duke of Florence’s cavalry.

Act 3, scene 4

The Countess is given the letter left for her by Helen, in which Helen sets out her intention to make…

Act 3, scene 5

Helen, on her pilgrimage, meets Diana, whom Bertram has been attempting to seduce.

Act 3, scene 6

The French lords in Florence decide that Parolles’ unhappiness about the loss of the troop’s drum can be used as…

Act 3, scene 7

Helen enlists Diana’s mother in contriving to meet Bertram’s conditions. Diana will agree to sleep with Bertram on the condition…

Act 4, scene 1

Parolles is captured and blindfolded by a French lord and soldiers pretending to be the enemy who can speak to…

Act 4, scene 2

Diana agrees to lie with Bertram after he reluctantly gives her his ancestral ring.

Act 4, scene 3

News comes to the Duke of Florence’s court that Bertram’s wife has died while on pilgrimage. When Bertram enters, he…

Act 4, scene 4

Helen sets out with Diana and Diana’s mother to seek the King of France in Marseilles.

Act 4, scene 5

The Countess, who has learned of Helen’s death, receives word that the King of France is approaching Rossillion and then…

Act 5, scene 1

Helen finds herself unable to petition the King because he has already departed for Rossillion.

Act 5, scene 2

Parolles arrives at Rossillion and persuades Lafew to take him into his service.

Act 5, scene 3

The King forgives Bertram and agrees to a marriage between Bertram and Lafew’s daughter. Bertram gives Lafew a ring, which…

Act 5, epilogue

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 3
Enter Countess, Steward, and Fool.

COUNTESS I will now hear. What say you of this
 gentlewoman?
STEWARD Madam, the care I have had to even your
 content I wish might be found in the calendar of
5 my past endeavors, for then we wound our modesty
 and make foul the clearness of our deservings
 when of ourselves we publish them.
COUNTESS What does this knave here? To Fool. Get
 you gone, sirrah. The complaints I have heard of
10 you I do not all believe. ’Tis my slowness that I do
 not, for I know you lack not folly to commit them
 and have ability enough to make such knaveries
 yours.
FOOL ’Tis not unknown to you, madam, I am a poor
15 fellow.
COUNTESS Well, sir.
FOOL No, madam, ’tis not so well that I am poor,
 though many of the rich are damned. But if I may
 have your Ladyship’s good will to go to the world,
20 Isbel the woman and I will do as we may.
COUNTESS Wilt thou needs be a beggar?
FOOL I do beg your good will in this case.
COUNTESS In what case?
FOOL In Isbel’s case and mine own. Service is no heritage,
25 and I think I shall never have the blessing of
 God till I have issue o’ my body, for they say bairns
 are blessings.
COUNTESS Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.
FOOL My poor body, madam, requires it. I am driven
30 on by the flesh, and he must needs go that the devil
 drives.
COUNTESS Is this all your Worship’s reason?
FOOL Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons, such
 as they are.

29
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

COUNTESS 35May the world know them?
FOOL I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you
 and all flesh and blood are, and indeed I do marry
 that I may repent.
COUNTESS Thy marriage sooner than thy wickedness.
FOOL 40I am out o’ friends, madam, and I hope to have
 friends for my wife’s sake.
COUNTESS Such friends are thine enemies, knave.
FOOL You’re shallow, madam, in great friends, for the
 knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary
45 of. He that ears my land spares my team and gives
 me leave to in the crop; if I be his cuckold, he’s my
 drudge. He that comforts my wife is the cherisher
 of my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my flesh
 and blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves
50 my flesh and blood is my friend. Ergo, he that
 kisses my wife is my friend. If men could be contented
 to be what they are, there were no fear in
 marriage, for young Charbon the Puritan and old
 Poysam the Papist, howsome’er their hearts are
55 severed in religion, their heads are both one; they
 may jowl horns together like any deer i’ th’ herd.
COUNTESS Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed and
 calumnious knave?
FOOL A prophet I, madam, and I speak the truth the
60 next way:
Sings. For I the ballad will repeat
  Which men full true shall find:
 Your marriage comes by destiny;
  Your cuckoo sings by kind.

COUNTESS 65Get you gone, sir. I’ll talk with you more
 anon.
STEWARD May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen
 come to you. Of her I am to speak.
COUNTESS Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak
70 with her—Helen, I mean.

31
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

FOOL sings 
 “Was this fair face the cause,” quoth she,
  “Why the Grecians sackèd Troy?
 Fond done, done fond.
  Was this King Priam’s joy?”
75 With that she sighèd as she stood,
 With that she sighèd as she stood,
  And gave this sentence then:
 “Among nine bad if one be good,
 Among nine bad if one be good,
80  There’s yet one good in ten.”

COUNTESS What, one good in ten? You corrupt the
 song, sirrah.
FOOL One good woman in ten, madam, which is a
 purifying o’ th’ song. Would God would serve the
85 world so all the year! We’d find no fault with the
 tithe-woman if I were the parson. One in ten,
 quoth he? An we might have a good woman born
 but or every blazing star or at an earthquake,
 ’twould mend the lottery well. A man may draw his
90 heart out ere he pluck one.
COUNTESS You’ll be gone, sir knave, and do as I command
 you!
FOOL That man should be at woman’s command, and
 yet no hurt done! Though honesty be no Puritan,
95 yet it will do no hurt; it will wear the surplice of
 humility over the black gown of a big heart. I am
 going, forsooth. The business is for Helen to come
 hither.He exits.
COUNTESS Well, now.
STEWARD 100I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman
 entirely.
COUNTESS Faith, I do. Her father bequeathed her to
 me, and she herself, without other advantage, may
 lawfully make title to as much love as she finds.
105 There is more owing her than is paid, and more
 shall be paid her than she’ll demand.

33
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

STEWARD Madam, I was very late more near her than I
 think she wished me. Alone she was and did communicate
 to herself her own words to her own
110 ears; she thought, I dare vow for her, they touched
 not any stranger sense. Her matter was she loved
 your son. Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that
 had put such difference betwixt their two estates;
 Love no god, that would not extend his might only
115 where qualities were level; Dian no queen of virgins,
 that would suffer her poor knight surprised
 without rescue in the first assault or ransom afterward.
 This she delivered in the most bitter touch
 of sorrow that e’er I heard virgin exclaim in, which
120 I held my duty speedily to acquaint you withal,
 sithence in the loss that may happen it concerns
 you something to know it.
COUNTESS You have discharged this honestly. Keep it
 to yourself. Many likelihoods informed me of this
125 before, which hung so tott’ring in the balance that
 I could neither believe nor misdoubt. Pray you
 leave me. Stall this in your bosom, and I thank you
 for your honest care. I will speak with you further
 anon.Steward exits.

Enter Helen.

Aside.
130 Even so it was with me when I was young.
  If ever we are nature’s, these are ours. This thorn
 Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong.
  Our blood to us, this to our blood is born.
 It is the show and seal of nature’s truth,
135 Where love’s strong passion is impressed in youth.
 By our remembrances of days foregone,
 Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
 Her eye is sick on ’t, I observe her now.
HELEN What is your pleasure, madam?

35
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

COUNTESS 
140 You know, Helen, I am a mother to you.
HELEN 
 Mine honorable mistress.
COUNTESS  Nay, a mother.
 Why not a mother? When I said “a mother,”
 Methought you saw a serpent. What’s in “mother”
145 That you start at it? I say I am your mother
 And put you in the catalogue of those
 That were enwombèd mine. ’Tis often seen
 Adoption strives with nature, and choice breeds
 A native slip to us from foreign seeds.
150 You ne’er oppressed me with a mother’s groan,
 Yet I express to you a mother’s care.
 God’s mercy, maiden, does it curd thy blood
 To say I am thy mother? What’s the matter,
 That this distempered messenger of wet,
155 The many-colored Iris, rounds thine eye?
 Why? That you are my daughter?
HELEN  That I am not.
COUNTESS 
 I say I am your mother.
HELEN  Pardon, madam.
160 The Count Rossillion cannot be my brother.
 I am from humble, he from honored name;
 No note upon my parents, his all noble.
 My master, my dear lord he is, and I
 His servant live and will his vassal die.
165 He must not be my brother.
COUNTESS  Nor I your mother?
HELEN 
 You are my mother, madam. Would you were—
 So that my lord your son were not my brother—
 Indeed my mother! Or were you both our mothers,
170 I care no more for than I do for heaven,
 So I were not his sister. Can ’t no other

37
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

 But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?
COUNTESS 
 Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law.
 God shield you mean it not! “Daughter” and “mother”
175 So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?
 My fear hath catched your fondness! Now I see
 The mystery of your loneliness and find
 Your salt tears’ head. Now to all sense ’tis gross:
 You love my son. Invention is ashamed
180 Against the proclamation of thy passion
 To say thou dost not. Therefore tell me true,
 But tell me then ’tis so, for, look, thy cheeks
 Confess it th’ one to th’ other, and thine eyes
 See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors
185 That in their kind they speak it. Only sin
 And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue
 That truth should be suspected. Speak. Is ’t so?
 If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;
 If it be not, forswear ’t; howe’er, I charge thee,
190 As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
 To tell me truly.
HELEN  Good madam, pardon me.
COUNTESS 
 Do you love my son?
HELEN  Your pardon, noble mistress.
COUNTESS 
195 Love you my son?
HELEN  Do not you love him, madam?
COUNTESS 
 Go not about. My love hath in ’t a bond
 Whereof the world takes note. Come, come, disclose
 The state of your affection, for your passions
200 Have to the full appeached.
HELEN, kneeling  Then I confess
 Here on my knee before high heaven and you
 That before you and next unto high heaven

39
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

 I love your son.
205 My friends were poor but honest; so ’s my love.
 Be not offended, for it hurts not him
 That he is loved of me. I follow him not
 By any token of presumptuous suit,
 Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
210 Yet never know how that desert should be.
 I know I love in vain, strive against hope,
 Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
 I still pour in the waters of my love
 And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
215 Religious in mine error, I adore
 The sun that looks upon his worshipper
 But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
 Let not your hate encounter with my love
 For loving where you do; but if yourself,
220 Whose agèd honor cites a virtuous youth,
 Did ever in so true a flame of liking
 Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
 Was both herself and Love, O then give pity
 To her whose state is such that cannot choose
225 But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
 That seeks not to find that her search implies,
 But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.
COUNTESS 
 Had you not lately an intent—speak truly—
 To go to Paris?
HELEN 230 Madam, I had.
COUNTESS  Wherefore?
 Tell true.
HELEN, standing 
 I will tell truth, by grace itself I swear.
 You know my father left me some prescriptions
235 Of rare and proved effects, such as his reading
 And manifest experience had collected
 For general sovereignty; and that he willed me

41
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

 In heedfull’st reservation to bestow them
 As notes whose faculties inclusive were
240 More than they were in note. Amongst the rest
 There is a remedy, approved, set down,
 To cure the desperate languishings whereof
 The King is rendered lost.
COUNTESS 
 This was your motive for Paris, was it? Speak.
HELEN 
245 My lord your son made me to think of this;
 Else Paris, and the medicine, and the King
 Had from the conversation of my thoughts
 Haply been absent then.
COUNTESS  But think you, Helen,
250 If you should tender your supposèd aid,
 He would receive it? He and his physicians
 Are of a mind: he that they cannot help him,
 They that they cannot help. How shall they credit
 A poor unlearnèd virgin, when the schools
255 Emboweled of their doctrine have left off
 The danger to itself?
HELEN  There’s something in ’t
 More than my father’s skill, which was the great’st
 Of his profession, that his good receipt
260 Shall for my legacy be sanctified
 By th’ luckiest stars in heaven; and would your
 Honor
 But give me leave to try success, I’d venture
 The well-lost life of mine on his Grace’s cure
265 By such a day, an hour.
COUNTESS  Dost thou believe ’t?
HELEN Ay, madam, knowingly.
COUNTESS 
 Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love,
 Means and attendants, and my loving greetings
270 To those of mine in court. I’ll stay at home

43
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 1. SC. 3

 And pray God’s blessing into thy attempt.
 Be gone tomorrow, and be sure of this:
 What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.
They exit.