All's Well That Ends Well
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All's Well That Ends Well

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  7,197 ratings  ·  240 reviews
FOLGER Shakespeare Library

The world's leading center for Shakespeare studies

Each edition includes:

- Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
- Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
- Scene-by-scene plot summaries
- A key to famous lines and phrases
- An introduction to reading Shakespeare's la...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1605)
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Community Reviews

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Bram
Where can you go after writing Hamlet? Only into the bitterest depths of irony and nihilism, apparently. All’s Well That Ends Well is part of the problem play trilogy that followed soon after the Danish Prince’s demise and Malvolio’s humiliation, and it appears on the surface to be less twisted than both Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure. But don’t be fooled. Shakespeare plays one of his greatest tricks on the audience here, achieving something difficult and deeply unsatisfying, which...more
Kimberly
ALright, obviously I am biased - being that I will be playing the heroine May through September...but before all that, when I first read this play last winter it became my favorite play by Shakespeare. This is the best edition f the play, and has a brilliant introduction. Helena is the first female physician ever created, and her strength, daring, and unabashed lack of self-respect where her feelings for Bertram are concerned make her a fascinating subject and a great role model in many ways.
Th...more
Bill  Kerwin

I just can't bring myself to love this play, although I believe I understand what Shakespeare is doing here. He takes a fairy tale plot, adds a fiercely realistic setting (complete with a pointless war and friendly fire), adds a desperately mismatched romantic couple (Helena, a commoner and a control-freak, a woman of great passion and intelligence, obsessively smitten with the noble Bertram, a proud, shallow boy), tops it off by giving the comedy a mindlessly optimistic title and then spending...more
Charles Matthews
Time for another run-through of Shakespeare's plays. The last time I did this, I wrote an article for the Mercury News about reading all the plays in alphabetical order, which meant I had to start with All's Well That Ends Well. I called it one of Shakespeare's worst plays, which rather shocked an academic friend of mine who is uneasy about such critical judgments. So I promised myself that this time around I wouldn't start out with such a harshly prejudicial point of view.


I still hold that if y...more
Stuart Aken
How do you go about reviewing a work that must have been described, analysed and generally pulled apart by thousands of readers, writers, scholars and professional reviewers? Well, as I see it, the only thing to do is give a very personal opinion.

Shakespeare is, of course, our national bard, our cultural hero, if we write in English. So, the reviewer better beware if he says anything untoward. But I set myself a target and I'm determined to hit it. The target? As a writer, to read and review at...more
Amalie
I'm a fan of Shakespeare but I'm certainly not biased in addding my thoughts.

I periodically pick up Shakespeare's plays to soak into that timeless wisdom and entertainment and it's only rarely that I find myself to be I disappointed like with The Taming of the Shrew, certainly not a "timeless" entertainment but pretty much time-bound, only the Elizabethan audience could've enjoyed it but compared to this one I'd say, The Taming of the Shrew is a better Elizabethan humour/comedy.

All's Well That...more
Chelsea
All’s Well that Ends Well is a quasi-comedy of Shakespeare’s. I say quasi-comedy because, although it technically has a happy ending, the tone is definitely not keeping in line with the comic gener, especially Shakespeare’s comdey. The story is of the young maiden Helena. Helena’s father, a physician for the Count Rossillion, has just died and the King is ill. Helena goes to court to cure the king with a special sure her father possessed. At this same time, the Countess’s son Bertram (whose fath...more
Stevie
There are parts of this particular play that I really like. The storyline and especially the ending (All's Well that Ends Well) that has gotten so much grief are actually the reasons I like it. I enjoy that it has a bit of a bitterness to it even though it's a comedy. And the comedic parts are indeed funny. I did have a really hard time with the actual writing. The verse and prose are all over the place with no real reason for how they are chosen. There is not the calculation that we see in most...more
Lexxie
All's Well that Ends Well is dubbed 'a problem play' in the introduction, because it's neither tragedy, comedy nor history. However, the wordplay is so excellent, and the gender role reversals very interesting.

Full review to come soon.

This and all my other reviews are originally posted on my blog (un)Conventional Bookviews
notgettingenough
Is it? I wouldn't know.

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Note to Manny. My reviews just haven't done it for you lately. Gee, I've even removed my latest at your wish. Well, I've been up all night working out this one, so I hope it is to your taste. Etc etc, Yours.
Andrew
My first comedy to read from Shakespeare, as I've gravitated toward the tragedies or histories most. I certainly must have liked it as I read the whole play in a single evening. :-)
Laurele
This play by Shakespeare has a worrisome plot, but Shakespeare carries it off flawlessly and it does indeed end well. The Arkangel dramatization is , as usual, wonderful.
Barbara

I was reading a free Kindle download of "All's Well That Ends Well". It read as though Shakespeare was making up Latinate words on the run (some which have been reinvented or have evolved a quite different meaning) and pointlessly torturing syntax. I know those are the sorts of things he liked to get up to but I'd never had so much trouble understanding him. As the early scenes are set at courts, I was guessing also that the linguistic showing off was meant to indicate that we were observing a...more
Bonnie
HELENA: I am hopelessly in love with Bertram! But he is a count and I am but a lowly physician's daughter and the ward of his mother the Countess! Woe!
RANDOM GUY: Hey, the king's sick!
HELENA: Well, I am a physician's daughter...
KING: You have cured me, Helena! I'll give you anything you want. What would that be? Gold? Pretty baubles? A new dress?
HELENA: Bertram.
KING: Well, I am king. So be it!
BETRAM: AH HELL NO. *runs away to fight with the Duke of Florence*

HELENA: Woe! Bertram will never be my...more
Kristopher
Shakespeare's comedies just don't thrive the page like his tragedies.

I read this right before seeing a production of it by the American Shakespeare Company. While I read Parolles' overblown speeches and Latvach's clever puns, I knew they were supposed to be funny, but I didn't really laugh until I saw them acted out on stage. Not just the physical slapstick needs to be seen to be appreciated, but normal jokes need to be heard. A lot of how funny a joke is depends on how it's delivered.

Of cours...more
Chris
I periodically pick up my Shakespeare anthology to soak in the timeless wisdom, and rarely am I disappointed. But there's a first time for everything. I suppose even Shakespeare slipped into prosaic demagoguery every once in a while in order to set his barbs deeper into the more vulgar members of the adoring public. All's Well That Ends Well didn't pack the same punch with an undercurrent of meaning that I look for in grandfather Bill's bottom lines. It was a fun, unpredictable story that made g...more
kaelan
All's Well that Ends Well has never been a favourite with audiences and readers. No allusions to it from Shakespeare's own time have been found, and evaluations by nineteenth and early twentieth-century critics tend to be at best defensive; more often their tone is embarrassed or denunciatory, and some, like Quiller-Couch, Tillyard, and Josephine W. Bennett, do not hesitate to label the play a failure.

These traditional criticisms are recounted by Susan Snyder, editor of the Oxford Shakespeare ed...more
Scott Gates
So the origins of this story go back to the dimmest reaches of folklore: a magical cure for a seemingly doomed King, an abandoned wife undergoing outlandish tasks to reclaim her husband, the same wife thought dead being "resurrected" at court.

The language in Shakespeare's Comedies is more difficult than the Histories and Tragedies, because jokes are usually embedded in weird language, and it's difficult piecing together what a given joke meant hundreds of years after the fact (I decided to go fo...more
Surreysmum
Read this in an edition of ca. 1950 - Quiller-Couch/Dover Wilson. Source - University of Calgary. Quiller-Couch writes that this is an over-written version of an early effort, and I believe him: it's uneven in every sense, bumping along from blank verse to rhyming couplets. But early critics also claim to be uneasy about the moral tendencies of this play, where a man is tricked into marrying, and then tricked into accepting, his wife. Putting aside real life for now -- "real life" is decidedly n...more
Molly
I studied the play this summer at graduate school and wrote on it extensively. Helen is an interesting protagonist and though I argued in a 15-page paper that she is a strong willed woman, I'm not entirely confident that she is... The more I studied HER the more curious I was about Bertram. Would definitely like to see an updated movie version to watch the bed-trick unfold...

Helen is a problem product of one of Shakespeare’s problem plays. Aggressive yet passive, intellectual yet subservient, in...more
Terence
For me All’s Well That Ends Well is an ironic title. At its conclusion, events appear to have concluded successfully but you can’t help but wonder how long anyone’s happiness is going to last. This is especially true in the case of Helena and Bertram. How likely is it that after five acts of boorish, callow and mendacious behavior Bertram will love Helena “dearly, ever, ever dearly” (Act 5, scene 3)? (I can only hope that, having grown up with him, Helena can see something worthwhile in Bertram...more
Alyssa
I found this play to be quite a delightful read although I must admit I did struggle with some of the plot. However first readings of Shakespeare are often slightly confusing for me and it is only through rereading or discussion that I am able to more fully understand any of his plays. I have not read many of his comedies, but I always find them enjoyable and this was no exception. The character development was not as clear or as full as in some of his other plays, but as a light play I'm not su...more
Bryan Basamanowicz
I haven't read Shakespeare since high school, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to get much out of it. But the play and the supplemental content in the Signet edition proved to be both accessible and insightful.

My main reason for approaching Shakespeare was to find some explanation for 'the bard's' persistent presence in the academic study of literature. Why do so many readers still take time for this work?

From what I've read, inferred, and understood thus far, I believe Shakespeare's linger...more
J. Alfred
It might be a lame and unjustifiable pun-- like the person I know who said she had "great expectations, but was disappointed" over Dickens' great novel-- but I tend to think that the best part about this play is that it ends at all.
I'm not in love with any of the characters, the dialogue isn't especially great, and the plot is atrocious. A brilliant, pretty, all around commendable woman spends all her ingenuity tracking down a husband who isn't close to worth it-- a scumbag whose best excuse fo...more
Amerynth
I found "All's Well that Ends Well" to be really uneven. Helena is in love with Bertram, who apparently hates her for no reason and treats her shabbily... apparently that's incredibly attractive. Of course, with the title the play has, you can guess it's all going to go swimmingly well for Helena even if she has to trick her way into it.

Actually, Helena was a pretty interesting character as far as Shakespeare's women go (but she was no Lady MacBeth.) However, there seemed to be a lot of filler c...more
Pietro Coen
This play is about a woman who stalks a man into marrying her; he prefers to go to war rather than consummate the marriage. In the end she tricks him into making love to her (in the pitch dark he thinks it’s another woman), and when he realizes it was her, he resigns to living the rest of his life with her: all’s well that ends well. Right?

He is Bertram the Count of Roussillon and she is Helena; the play starts in Roussillon when he’s taking leave of his mother: he’s off to Paris to stay with th...more
Jake
Aug 21, 2009 Jake rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
The problem with this play is that it doesn’t end well. It’s an awful ending, contrived and abrupt. No Shakespeare play I’ve yet seen or read is quite so dissatisfying. It’s quite an uneventful play, aggravatingly contrived and unmemorable. I can of course forgive Shakespeare, because he has so many great plays. Frankly, unless you are hardcore into Shakespeare plays, skip this one. It is far from “all well.”
John Wiswell
More of a slog than a read. From the opening salvos argued against virginity you get a taste of the depth – that is to say, very ornate juvenile thinking, which goes from the personalities of the characters all the way up to the construction of the plot. It manages to make both bitter cynicism and fairy tale logic unappealing. Flighty, flowery, and not really worth reaching the end on paper.
Rose
Shakespeare is really good with rhyme scheme and I think that lately pop artists suck with that and the old English was even more difficult I think.

Still this story never caputered me as much as Romeo and Juliet did. This of course being only the second story I've read from him. However I will read Hamlet soon. I just hope that one would be better but I believe so. I've heard better reviews than this one. I actually have read this one before in English Literature. still have the same opinion: D...more
Eyehavenofilter
This was a very confusing play for me. Helena running to and fro, trying to justify her behavior towards her step mother, her future husband, to just about everyone around her it drive me crazy. Yes, she's a very strong character but ended up being a caricature for me. It was far too slap stick a comedy for me. One of Shakespeare's weakest.
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Is Bertram's free will violated, or is he too stubborn to see what's good for him? 1 5 Jun 27, 2012 06:25AM  
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947
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr...more
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Romeo and Juliet Hamlet Macbeth A Midsummer Night's Dream Othello

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