List iconAll’s Well That Ends Well:
Act 2, scene 3
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All’s Well That Ends Well
Act 2, scene 3



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

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Scene 3
Enter Count Bertram, Lafew, and Parolles.

LAFEW They say miracles are past, and we have our
 philosophical persons to make modern and familiar
 things supernatural and causeless. Hence is it
 that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves
5 into seeming knowledge when we should
 submit ourselves to an unknown fear.
PAROLLES Why, ’tis the rarest argument of wonder that
 hath shot out in our latter times.
BERTRAM And so ’tis.
LAFEW 10To be relinquished of the artists—
PAROLLES So I say, both of Galen and Paracelsus.
LAFEW Of all the learned and authentic fellows—
PAROLLES Right, so I say.
LAFEW That gave him out incurable—
PAROLLES 15Why, there ’tis. So say I too.
LAFEW Not to be helped.
PAROLLES Right, as ’twere a man assured of a—
LAFEW Uncertain life and sure death.
PAROLLES Just. You say well. So would I have said.
LAFEW 20I may truly say it is a novelty to the world.
PAROLLES It is indeed. If you will have it in showing,
 you shall read it in what-do-you-call there.
He points to a paper in Lafew’s hand.
LAFEW reads A showing of a heavenly effect in an earthly

PAROLLES 25That’s it. I would have said the very same.
LAFEW Why, your dolphin is not lustier. ’Fore me, I
 speak in respect—
PAROLLES Nay, ’tis strange, ’tis very strange; that is the
 brief and the tedious of it; and he’s of a most facinorous
30 spirit that will not acknowledge it to be
LAFEW Very hand of heaven.

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

PAROLLES Ay, so I say.
LAFEW In a most weak—
PAROLLES 35And debile minister. Great power, great
 transcendence, which should indeed give us a further
 use to be made than alone the recov’ry of the
 King, as to be—
LAFEW Generally thankful.

Enter King, Helen, and Attendants.

PAROLLES 40I would have said it. You say well. Here
 comes the King.
LAFEW Lustig, as the Dutchman says. I’ll like a maid
 the better whilst I have a tooth in my head. Why,
 he’s able to lead her a coranto.
PAROLLES 45Mort du vinaigre! Is not this Helen?
LAFEW ’Fore God, I think so.
 Go, call before me all the lords in court.
An Attendant exits.
 Sit, my preserver, by thy patient’s side,
 And with this healthful hand, whose banished sense
50 Thou hast repealed, a second time receive
 The confirmation of my promised gift,
 Which but attends thy naming.

Enter three or four Court Lords.

 Fair maid, send forth thine eye. This youthful parcel
 Of noble bachelors stand at my bestowing,
55 O’er whom both sovereign power and father’s voice
 I have to use. Thy frank election make.
 Thou hast power to choose, and they none to forsake.
 To each of you one fair and virtuous mistress
 Fall when Love please! Marry, to each but one.
LAFEW, aside 
60 I’d give bay Curtal and his furniture

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

 My mouth no more were broken than these boys’
 And writ as little beard.
KING  Peruse them well.
 Not one of those but had a noble father.
HELEN 65Gentlemen,
 Heaven hath through me restored the King to health.
 We understand it and thank heaven for you.
 I am a simple maid, and therein wealthiest
 That I protest I simply am a maid.—
70 Please it your Majesty, I have done already.
 The blushes in my cheeks thus whisper me:
 “We blush that thou shouldst choose; but, be
 Let the white death sit on thy cheek forever;
75 We’ll ne’er come there again.”
KING  Make choice and see.
 Who shuns thy love shuns all his love in me.
 Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly,
 And to imperial Love, that god most high,
80 Do my sighs stream.She addresses her to a Lord.
 Sir, will you hear my suit?
 And grant it.
HELEN  Thanks, sir. All the
 rest is mute.
LAFEW, aside 85I had rather be in this choice than
 throw ambs-ace for my life.
HELEN, to another Lord 
 The honor, sir, that flames in your fair eyes
 Before I speak too threat’ningly replies.
 Love make your fortunes twenty times above
90 Her that so wishes, and her humble love.
 No better, if you please.
HELEN  My wish receive,

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Which great Love grant, and so I take my leave.
LAFEW, aside Do all they deny her? An they were sons
95 of mine, I’d have them whipped, or I would send
 them to th’ Turk to make eunuchs of.
HELEN, to another Lord 
 Be not afraid that I your hand should take.
 I’ll never do you wrong, for your own sake.
 Blessing upon your vows, and in your bed
100 Find fairer fortune if you ever wed.
LAFEW, aside These boys are boys of ice; they’ll none
 have her. Sure they are bastards to the English;
 the French ne’er got ’em.
HELEN, to another Lord 
 You are too young, too happy, and too good
105 To make yourself a son out of my blood.
FOURTH COURT LORD Fair one, I think not so.
LAFEW, aside There’s one grape yet. I am sure thy
 father drunk wine. But if thou be’st not an ass, I
 am a youth of fourteen; I have known thee already.
HELEN, to Bertram 
110 I dare not say I take you, but I give
 Me and my service ever whilst I live
 Into your guiding power.—This is the man.
 Why then, young Bertram, take her. She’s thy wife.
 My wife, my liege? I shall beseech your Highness
115 In such a business give me leave to use
 The help of mine own eyes.
KING  Know’st thou not,
 What she has done for me?
BERTRAM 120 Yes, my good lord,
 But never hope to know why I should marry her.
 Thou know’st she has raised me from my sickly bed.

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

 But follows it, my lord, to bring me down
 Must answer for your raising? I know her well;
125 She had her breeding at my father’s charge.
 A poor physician’s daughter my wife? Disdain
 Rather corrupt me ever!
 ’Tis only title thou disdain’st in her, the which
 I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,
130 Of color, weight, and heat, poured all together,
 Would quite confound distinction, yet stands off
 In differences so mighty. If she be
 All that is virtuous, save what thou dislik’st—
 “A poor physician’s daughter”—thou dislik’st
135 Of virtue for the name. But do not so.
 From lowest place whence virtuous things proceed,
 The place is dignified by th’ doer’s deed.
 Where great additions swell ’s, and virtue none,
 It is a dropsied honor. Good alone
140 Is good, without a name; vileness is so;
 The property by what it is should go,
 Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair;
 In these to nature she’s immediate heir,
 And these breed honor. That is honor’s scorn
145 Which challenges itself as honor’s born
 And is not like the sire. Honors thrive
 When rather from our acts we them derive
 Than our foregoers. The mere word’s a slave
 Debauched on every tomb, on every grave
150 A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb
 Where dust and damned oblivion is the tomb
 Of honored bones indeed. What should be said?
 If thou canst like this creature as a maid,
 I can create the rest. Virtue and she
155 Is her own dower, honor and wealth from me.

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

 I cannot love her, nor will strive to do ’t.
 Thou wrong’st thyself if thou shouldst strive to
 That you are well restored, my lord, I’m glad.
160 Let the rest go.
 My honor’s at the stake, which to defeat
 I must produce my power.—Here, take her hand,
 Proud, scornful boy, unworthy this good gift,
 That dost in vile misprision shackle up
165 My love and her desert; that canst not dream
 We, poising us in her defective scale,
 Shall weigh thee to the beam; that wilt not know
 It is in us to plant thine honor where
 We please to have it grow. Check thy contempt;
170 Obey our will, which travails in thy good.
 Believe not thy disdain, but presently
 Do thine own fortunes that obedient right
 Which both thy duty owes and our power claims,
 Or I will throw thee from my care forever
175 Into the staggers and the careless lapse
 Of youth and ignorance, both my revenge and hate
 Loosing upon thee in the name of justice
 Without all terms of pity. Speak. Thine answer.
 Pardon, my gracious lord, for I submit
180 My fancy to your eyes. When I consider
 What great creation and what dole of honor
 Flies where you bid it, I find that she which late
 Was in my nobler thoughts most base is now
 The praisèd of the King, who, so ennobled,
185 Is as ’twere born so.
KING  Take her by the hand,

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

 And tell her she is thine, to whom I promise
 A counterpoise, if not to thy estate,
 A balance more replete.
BERTRAM 190 I take her hand.
 Good fortune and the favor of the King
 Smile upon this contract, whose ceremony
 Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief
 And be performed tonight. The solemn feast
195 Shall more attend upon the coming space,
 Expecting absent friends. As thou lov’st her
 Thy love’s to me religious; else, does err.
They exit. Parolles and Lafew stay behind,
commenting of this wedding.

LAFEW Do you hear, monsieur? A word with you.
PAROLLES Your pleasure, sir.
LAFEW 200Your lord and master did well to make his
PAROLLES “Recantation”? My “lord”? My “master”?
LAFEW Ay. Is it not a language I speak?
PAROLLES A most harsh one, and not to be understood
205 without bloody succeeding. My “master”?
LAFEW Are you companion to the Count Rossillion?
PAROLLES To any count, to all counts, to what is man.
LAFEW To what is count’s man. Count’s master is of
 another style.
PAROLLES 210You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are
 too old.
LAFEW I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man, to which
 title age cannot bring thee.
PAROLLES What I dare too well do, I dare not do.
LAFEW 215I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a
 pretty wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent
 of thy travel; it might pass. Yet the scarves and the
 bannerets about thee did manifoldly dissuade me
 from believing thee a vessel of too great a burden.

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

220 I have now found thee. When I lose thee again, I
 care not. Yet art thou good for nothing but taking
 up, and that thou ’rt scarce worth.
PAROLLES Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity
 upon thee—
LAFEW 225Do not plunge thyself too far in anger lest thou
 hasten thy trial, which if—Lord have mercy on
 thee for a hen! So, my good window of lattice, fare
 thee well; thy casement I need not open, for I look
 through thee. Give me thy hand.
PAROLLES 230My lord, you give me most egregious
LAFEW Ay, with all my heart, and thou art worthy of it.
PAROLLES I have not, my lord, deserved it.
LAFEW Yes, good faith, ev’ry dram of it, and I will not
235 bate thee a scruple.
PAROLLES Well, I shall be wiser.
LAFEW Ev’n as soon as thou canst, for thou hast to
 pull at a smack o’ th’ contrary. If ever thou be’st
 bound in thy scarf and beaten, thou shalt find
240 what it is to be proud of thy bondage. I have a
 desire to hold my acquaintance with thee, or
 rather my knowledge, that I may say in the default
 “He is a man I know.”
PAROLLES My lord, you do me most insupportable
245 vexation.
LAFEW I would it were hell pains for thy sake, and my
 poor doing eternal; for doing I am past, as I will by
 thee in what motion age will give me leave.
He exits.
PAROLLES Well, thou hast a son shall take this disgrace
250 off me. Scurvy, old, filthy, scurvy lord! Well, I must
 be patient; there is no fettering of authority. I’ll
 beat him, by my life, if I can meet him with any
 convenience, an he were double and double a lord.
 I’ll have no more pity of his age than I would have
255 of—I’ll beat him, an if I could but meet him again.

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter Lafew.

LAFEW Sirrah, your lord and master’s married. There’s
 news for you: you have a new mistress.
PAROLLES I most unfeignedly beseech your Lordship
 to make some reservation of your wrongs. He is
260 my good lord; whom I serve above is my master.
LAFEW Who? God?
LAFEW The devil it is that’s thy master. Why dost thou
 garter up thy arms o’ this fashion? Dost make hose
265 of thy sleeves? Do other servants so? Thou wert
 best set thy lower part where thy nose stands. By
 mine honor, if I were but two hours younger, I’d
 beat thee. Methink’st thou art a general offense,
 and every man should beat thee. I think thou wast
270 created for men to breathe themselves upon thee.
PAROLLES This is hard and undeserved measure, my
LAFEW Go to, sir. You were beaten in Italy for picking a
 kernel out of a pomegranate. You are a vagabond,
275 and no true traveler. You are more saucy with
 lords and honorable personages than the commission
 of your birth and virtue gives you heraldry.
 You are not worth another word; else I’d call you
 knave. I leave you.He exits.
PAROLLES 280Good, very good! It is so, then. Good, very
 good. Let it be concealed awhile.

Enter Bertram Count Rossillion.

 Undone, and forfeited to cares forever!
PAROLLES What’s the matter, sweetheart?
 Although before the solemn priest I have sworn,
285 I will not bed her.

All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 2. SC. 3

PAROLLES What, what, sweetheart?
 O my Parolles, they have married me!
 I’ll to the Tuscan wars and never bed her.
PAROLLES France is a dog-hole, and it no more merits
290 the tread of a man’s foot. To th’ wars!
BERTRAM There’s letters from my mother. What th’
 import is I know not yet.
PAROLLES Ay, that would be known. To th’ wars, my
 boy, to th’ wars!
295 He wears his honor in a box unseen
 That hugs his kicky-wicky here at home,
 Spending his manly marrow in her arms
 Which should sustain the bound and high curvet
 Of Mars’s fiery steed. To other regions!
300 France is a stable, we that dwell in ’t jades.
 Therefore, to th’ war!
 It shall be so. I’ll send her to my house,
 Acquaint my mother with my hate to her
 And wherefore I am fled, write to the King
305 That which I durst not speak. His present gift
 Shall furnish me to those Italian fields
 Where noble fellows strike. Wars is no strife
 To the dark house and the detested wife.
 Will this capriccio hold in thee? Art sure?
310 Go with me to my chamber, and advise me.
 I’ll send her straight away. Tomorrow
 I’ll to the wars, she to her single sorrow.
 Why, these balls bound; there’s noise in it. ’Tis hard.
 A young man married is a man that’s marred.
315 Therefore away, and leave her bravely. Go.
 The King has done you wrong, but hush, ’tis so.
They exit.