All's Well That Ends Well Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Helena

Helena (HEHL-eh-nuh), the orphaned daughter of Gerard de Narbon, a distinguished physician, and the ward of the countess of Rousillon. She at first regards her love for Bertram, the countess’ son, as hopeless; then, with the independence characteristic of the heroines of William Shakespeare’s comedies, she resolves to try to win him with her father’s one legacy to her, a cure for the ailing king’s mysterious malady. Her charm and sincerity win the love and admiration of all who see her except Bertram himself. Hurt but undaunted by his flight from her on their wedding day, she mourns chiefly that she has sent him into danger in the Florentine war and deprived his mother of his presence. She leaves the countess without farewell, hoping at least to free her husband to return to his home if she is not successful in fulfilling his seemingly impossible conditions for a reconciliation. She contrives through an ingenious trick, substituting herself for the Florentine girl he is trying to seduce, to obtain his ring and conceive his child. She thus wins for herself a loving and repentant husband.

Bertram

Bertram, Count Rousillon, a rather arrogant, self-satisfied, and impulsive young man. Proud of his noble blood, he feels degraded by the king’s command that he marry Helena, and after the ceremony he flees with his dissolute companion Parolles to the army of the duke of Florence to escape such ignominy. He wins fame as a soldier, but he fares less well in his personal relationships. First, Parolles’ essential cowardice and disloyalty are exposed by his fellow soldiers to the young count who had trusted him. Then, his attempt to seduce Diana brings about the very end he is trying to escape, union with his own wife. His antagonism for Helena melts when he hears reports of her death and recognizes the depth of the love he has lost, and he is willingly reconciled to her when she is restored to him.

The Countess Rousillon

The Countess Rousillon, Bertram’s mother, a wise and gracious woman who is devoted to both Bertram and Helena and welcomes the idea of their marriage. Her son’s callous rejection of his virtuous wife appalls her, and she grieves deeply for his folly, in spite of her protest to Helena that she looks on her as her only remaining child. After Helena’s reported death and Bertram’s return, she begs the king to forgive her son’s youthful rebelliousness.

Parolles

Parolles (pay-ROHL-ehs), Bertram’s follower and fellow soldier, who has no illusions about his own character. His romantic illusions are nonexistent. He encourages Bertram to be off to the wars with him, and he aids and abets the attempted seduction of Diana. The quality of his loyalty to his patron becomes all too obvious in the hilarious drum scene when he, blindfolded, insults and offers to betray all his countrymen to free himself from the enemies into whose hands he thinks he has fallen.

The king of France

The king of France, a kindly old man who has almost resigned himself to the fact that his illness is incurable when Helena comes to court with her father’s prescription, which heals him. He believes her the equal of any man in the kingdom and readily agrees to reward her service to him by letting her choose her husband from the noblemen of the kingdom. Only the pleas of Lafeu and the countess, along with Bertram’s late recognition of Helena’s virtues, prevent him from punishing the young man severely for his rebellious flight.

Lafeu

Lafeu (LAH-few), an old lord, counselor to the king and the countess’ friend. He is as much captivated by Helena’s grace as is his king, but he blames Parolles chiefly for Bertram’s ungentle desertion of his wife. Out of friendship for the countess, he arranges a marriage between Bertram and his own daughter in an attempt to assuage the king’s anger against the count.

Lavache

Lavache (lah-VAHSH), the countess’ servant, a witty clown who is expert in the nonsensical trains of logic spun by characters such as Touchstone and Feste.

Diana Capilet

Diana Capilet (KAP-ih-leht), the attractive, virtuous daughter of a Florentine widow. She willingly agrees to help Helena win Bertram when she hears her story, and she wins a rich husband for herself as a reward from the king for her honesty.

Diana’s mother

Diana’s mother, a widow who is concerned about the honor of her daughter and her house.

Violenta

Violenta (vee-oh-LEHN-tah) and

Mariana

Mariana (mah-ree-AH-nah), the widow’s honest neighbors.

The duke of Florence

The duke of Florence, the general whose army Bertram joins.

Rinaldo

Rinaldo (rih-NAHL-doh), the countess’ steward, who first tells her of Helena’s love for Bertram.

All's Well That Ends Well Characters

King of France
Represents a dying breed of nobility, one in which honor and virtue are tantamount. He is suffering...

(The entire section is 472 words.)

All's Well That Ends Well Character Analysis

Bertram (Character Analysis)

Bertram is the hero of the play. Forced to marry Helena against his will, he flees from her but is tricked into sleeping with her...

(The entire section is 753 words.)

Diana (Character Analysis)

Diana is the Florentine woman who helps Helena fulfill the impossible tasks that Bertram sets for her. She first appears in Act III, as...

(The entire section is 417 words.)

King of France (Character Analysis)

The king of France is the highest authority in the play. The scenes in which he presides are the most dramatic and ritualistic, as well. In...

(The entire section is 482 words.)

Helena (Character Analysis)

Helena is the main character in the play. The daughter of a recently deceased physician and therefore both low-born and poor, she is under...

(The entire section is 946 words.)

Lafew (Character Analysis)

Lafew is an old lord in the countess of Rossillion's court. Like the countess herself, Lafew supports Helena in her desire to marry Bertram,...

(The entire section is 600 words.)

Lavatch (Character Analysis)

Lavatch, the countess's clown, is a so-called "allowed fool": that is, he can get away with making jokes about all kinds of sensitive topics...

(The entire section is 484 words.)

Parolles (Character Analysis)

Parolles is Bertram's friend and a hanger-on at court who insults Helena, offends Lafew, encourages the count to flee from his marriage, and...

(The entire section is 688 words.)

Countess of Rossillion (Character Analysis)

The countess of Rossillion is the mother of Bertram, the count of Rossillion. The countess also protects Helena, the daughter of a physician...

(The entire section is 642 words.)

Other Characters (Descriptions)

Citizens of Florence
These citizens appear in III.v, when Helena meets the widow and Diana on the street, as the...

(The entire section is 526 words.)