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*Rousillon (rew-see-YOHN). Region in southern France in which the play opens. The palace of Bertram, the count of Rousillon, is a scene of mourning and shadows, shot through with beams of love and goodwill, ruled by a man in complete self-absorption, ignorant of the kindness of his mother and the healing qualities of Helena. The problem is presented in this atmosphere of dark ambivalence, and here it will be resolved in the end. However, the mood of uncertainty that opens the play is not completely dissipated, for audiences remain wondering if Helena’s unconditional love and powers of healing will be sufficient to remedy Bertram’s overriding sense of self.


*Florence. Cultural center of Italy. Like Paris, Florence is sick in its soul with war and conspiracy. Bertram attempts to seduce Diana there, but Helena puts herself in the bed (an unhealthy one, like the French king’s sick bed in Paris), and he makes love to her, unwittingly helping to fulfill his impossible conditions: “When thou canst . . . show me a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then call me husband.” Florence embodies the theme of means justifying an end: Bertram achieves the military glory he covets, Parolles is exposed as a liar and a coward, and Helena uses trickery to fulfill the contract promised by the king.


*Paris. France’s capital is a somber and spiritually ill city, in which the king is stricken by fistula, and men are leaving for the Italian wars. Helena’s potion cures the king, who rewards her with Bertram’s hand, a fairy-tale resolution set in a palace, but Bertram is insulted, and their unconsummated marriage speaks to the intrigue, sickness, and sterility that plagues the royal court.

Modern Connections

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All's Well That Ends Well focuses on what makes a marriage work. Helena is in love with Bertram from the very beginning of the play, and although she recognizes that her class status makes her a modern day American, marriage across classes is a common enough affair, so that Helena's low-born status may seem a superficial reason for Bertram's refusal of her. Certainly, the play makes Bertram himself into a superficial, vain, and arrogant young nobleman. But the class difference between the two is significant to Bertram, Helena, and the society in which they live. What other barriers, in addition to class distinction, exist in our own society?

When Helena wins Bertram in marriage, it is as though the play reaches a fairy-tale ending too soon. She has her Prince Charming, but he is not charming at all: "A poor physician's daughter my wife! Disdain / Rather corrupt me ever!" (II.iii.l 15- 16). What follows is an exploration of the meaning and value of their marriage. Bertram's challenge to her is to get a ring from his finger and bear his child, as though he believes that these are the elements that constitute the true marriage bond. Helena, on the other hand, begs a kiss from him (II.v.86), and later talks about how pleasurable their experience was in bed (IV.iv.21). Physical desire is a vital element of the bond for her. But she also behaves submissively when he tells her to return without him to Rossillion (II.v): to Helena, being a wife means fulfilling the duties of obedience and even servitude. By the end, she apparently wins Bertram's submission as well. When she comes back from the dead, his response is to beg her pardon, and promise to love her ''dearly, ever ever dearly" (V.iii.316). Different ideas about the meaning of the marriage bond are evident even today. Although the traditional Christian ritual included a promise to "honor and obey" each other, some couples prefer not to promise obedience. Marriage and family mean different things to different people; for instance, the current argument whether gay people can get married legally in America raises the question of how people define marriage. The issue is no simpler today than it was in Shakespeare's time.

All's Well That Ends Well has been called a "problem play" because it fails to fulfill conventions in a number of different ways. Even its title serves as an ironic comment on the play: all may seem to end well, but whether or not all is truly well in the end remains open to question. Although the play has the happy ending of a typical comedy, Bertram's humble acceptance occurs so abruptly and seems so out of character that the happy ending seems, at best, unrealistic. Other comic conventions are changed, reversed, or simply ignored. In comedy marriages generally occur at the end, and marriages are generally based on mutual love. In All's Well, the marriage occurs near the beginning, and is even consummated in the course of the play, but it is never based on mutual love. In comedy, the older generation typically blocks the happiness of the younger generation by objecting to the younger characters' love affairs. In All's Well, the older generation supports Helena's love for Bertram, and it is the younger generation—Parolles and Bertram himself—who block the marriage. The younger generation holds onto the value of class difference much more tightly than the older characters, who value Helena for her noble conduct and do not condemn her for her low-born status. Thus All's Well That Ends Well resembles a sitcom that doesn't even try to be funny, or a TV drama that refuses to be a tear-jerker. The genre or category of sitcom makes an audience expect certain conventional material, like jokes; the genre of TV drama makes an audience expect conventional emotional appeals. When these conventions are not fulfilled, the audience's expectations are left hanging awkwardly.

A central element of the unconventional plot of All's Well That Ends Well is the female heroine. Seldom does a female character in Shakespeare's plays hold the stage as fully as does Helena; seldom does the will of a female character guide nearly all the action and seldom is that will fulfilled with such drama in the end. Helena behaves with an apparent meekness and propriety throughout the play. She keeps her love secret initially, and is embarrassed when the countess confronts her about it (I.iii). She does not force her cure on the king (II.i. 125-28). Once she has married Betram, she behaves meekly. But Helena nevertheless insists on getting what she wants in the end.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Literary Commentary
Briggs, Julia. "Shakespeare's Bed-Tricks." In Essays in Criticism XLIV, No. 4 (October 1994): pp. 293-314.

Discusses the influences on Shakespeare in his use of the bed-trick and how Shakespeare used the bed-trick in his own work. Briggs focuses on Arcadia, a work preceding Shakespeare's plays, and Shakespeare's own Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well.

Brown, John Russell. "Love's Ordeal and the Judgements of All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Troilus and Cressida." In Shakespeare and His Comedies, pp. 183-200. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1957.

Argues that these three comedies—All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Troilus and Cressida—are, like their Shakespearean predecessors, "informed by Shakespeare's ideals of love's wealth, love's truth, and love's order," even though they are often classified as "problem plays" and set apart from Shakespeare's other comedies. Brown argues that the three plays "refine and extend Shakespeare's comic vision" and that understanding them enhances one's appreciation of the earlier comedies.

Bryant, J. A., Jr. "All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure." In Shakespeare and the Uses of Comedy, pp. 203-20. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1986.

Examines how the two plays, although "traditional" comedies, veer from the usual paths of such tales, arriving "at the prescribed destination with marks of the passage still showing."

Chambers, E. K. "All's Well That Ends Well." In Discussions of Shakespeare's Problem Comedies, edited by Robert Ornstein, pp. 38-41. Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1961.

Briefly explores the "degradation" of Helena in All's Well That Ends Well.

Champion, Larry S. "The Problem Comedies." In The Evolution of Shakespeare's Comedy: A Study in Dramatic Perspective, pp. 96-128 Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970.

Examines how All's Well That Ends Well centers on the character of Bertram and how Parolles, Lavache, Lafeu, and Helena contribute to the comic perspective of the play.

Charney, Maurice. "All's Well That Ends Well." In All of Shakespeare, pp. 95-103. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Provides an overview of All's Well That Ends Well intended for classroom use or for the general reader.

Dowden, Edward. "The Role of Helena." In Discussions of Shakespeare's Problem Comedies, edited by Robert Ornstein, pp. 35-37. Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1961.

Briefly explores the character of Helena in All's Well That Ends Well, finding her noble, active, and courageous.

Fraser, Russell, ed. Introduction to All's Well That Ends Well, pp. 1-37. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Provides an overview of All's Well That Ends Well, including its genesis; how Shakespeare drew on historical figures and tales for his creation of characters (acknowledging Boccaccio's Decameron); the uniqueness of Bertram as a Shakespearean hero; and various other much-discussed elements of the play, such as its ending, the characters' sexuality, and the importance of Parolles. Fraser also puts this play in context with some of Shakespeare's other plays and provides a brief stage history. This introduction is followed by the actual text of the play.

Friedman, Michael D. "Male Bonds and Marriage in All's Well and Much Ado." In Studies in English Literature 35, No. 2 (Spring 1995), pp. 231-49.

Discusses male bonding in All's Well That Ends Well and Much Ado about Nothing, primarily the relationship between Bertram and Parolles, and Claudio and Benedick, and how it pertains to marriage in the plays.

Goddard, Harold C. "All's Well That Ends Well." In The Meaning of Shakespeare, pp. 424-35. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951.

Explores the possibility of examining All's Well That Ends Well in two different ways—as a folktale and as a "less clandestinely ironical" Two Gentlemen of Verona. In the folktale interpretation, Helena is the "good angel" who rescues Bertram from Parolles, the "bad angel." If this was Shakespeare's intent, Goddard argues, he did a poor job of it, as Bertram's character is simply too "blackened" for the reader to think the ending plausible. In the second interpretation, Parolles and Bertram are the two "gentlemen," and Parolles, especially, takes center stage as a universally scorned and abhorred character.

Haley, David. "Bertram at Court." In Shakespeare's Courtly Mirror, Reflexity and Prudence in All's Well That Ends Well, pp. 17-51. Newark: University of Delware Press, 1993.

Examines All's Well That Ends Well as a courtly play (and Shakespeare's approach to the courtier in general), with specific emphasis on Bertram as a courtier.

——— "Helena's Love." In Shakespeare's Courtly Minor: Reflexity and Prudence in All's Well That Ends Well, pp. 87-122. Newark: University of Delware Press, 1993.

Examines Helena's character, including her love melancholy, her "prophetic virtue" and "providential mission," and her "erotic motive" to be united with Bertram after he has rejected her (thus abandoning "providence for Eros").

Hapgood, Robert. "The Life of Shame: Parolles and All's Well." In Essays in Criticism XV, No. 3 (July 1965): pp. 269-78.

Discusses Parolles's vitality, how the King, Helena, Diana, Bertram, and Parolles are faced with an ordeal in which death is a real possibility, and the issue of telling the truth.

Hethmon, Robert H. "The Case for All's Well: What Is Wrong with the King?" In Drama Critique VII, No. 1 (Winter 1964): pp. 26-31.

Provides a very brief overview of the main characters and scenes in All's Well That Ends Well, with some discussion of how certain scenes should be performed, especially the ending of the play.

Hodgdon, Barbara. "The Making of Virgins and Mothers: Sexual Signs, Substitute Scenes and Doubled Presences in All's Well That Ends Well." In Philological Quarterly 66, No. 1 (Winter 1987): pp. 47-71.

Approaches a reading of All's Well That Ends Well from Helena's point of view, examining in particular how Shakespeare based his play on Boccaccio's play and what he did differently; how "sexual signs are articulated in character and event;" and how substitute scenes are used, particularly the bed-trick.

Hunt, Maurice. "Words and Deeds in All's Well That Ends Well." In Modern Language Quarterly 48, No. 4 (December 1987): pp. 320-38.

Examines the "competition" between words and deeds in All's Well That Ends Well primarily through the King of France who vacillates between valuing word and deed and thus the two cannot be brought into harmony, Helena, through whom Shakespeare implies that "not only that deeds can on occasion speak but also that they can prompt an eventual honesty in words;" and Bertram, who merges word and deed in the final scenes of the play when he embraces Helena.

Hunter, Robert Grams. "All's Well That Ends Well." In Shakespeare and the Comedy of Forgiveness, pp. 106-31. New York: Columbia University Press, 1965.

Highlights the main scenes and dialogue in All's Well That Ends Well. Hunter describes how the play has a special significance in its oddities and in how our expectations are continually disappointed. He emphasizes the theme of a "dying world in need of regeneration," and classifies the play as a "comedy of forgiveness."

Huston, J. Dennis. '"Some Stain of Soldier': The Functions of Parolles in All's Well That Ends Well." In Shakespeare Quarterly XXI, No. 4 (Autumn 1970): pp. 431-38.

Argues that Parolles is not an entirely unworthy figure in All's Well That Ends Well. He does provide some energy amid the backdrop of solemnity and death at the opening of the play, and he does infuse Helena with energy when she is despairing over her love for Bertram. However, Huston also argues that Parolles represents the very worst of the younger generation, whose failings are facilitating social decay and "darkness," which the older generation, especially the King, laments.

Jardine, Lisa. "Cultural Confusion and Shakespeare's Learned Heroines. 'These Are Old Paradoxes.'" In Shakespeare Quarterly 38, No. 1 (Spring 1987): pp. 1-18.

Discusses how Helena and Portia, in, respectively, All's Well That Ends Well and The Merchant of Venice, possessed knowledge traditionally associated with the "male sphere." Helena, in particular possessed knowledge as a healer (the community's "wise woman"), in her upbringing (her "education"), and as the "woman who knows" in her deception of Bertram. Jardine discusses the tension between possessing knowledge as a part of female virtue and possessing it in the "male sphere."

Kastan, David Scott. "All's Well That Ends Well and the Limits of Comedy." In ELH 52, No. 3 (Autumn 1985): pp. 575-89.

Argues that although All's Well That Ends Well and Shakespeare's other "problem plays" are classified as comedies and not tragedies because "fictive aspirations have been gratified," the reader is not entirely satisfied with these "aspirations" and indeed has been "made suspicious of them," thus making the plays "generic mixtures" or "mutations."

Krapp, George Philip. "Parolles." In Shakespearian Studies, edited by Brander Matthews and Ashley Horace Thorndike, pp. 291-302. New York: Russell and Russell, Inc., 1962.

Argues that it is erroneous to connect Parolles with the creation of the character of Falstaff, or to equate him with the "braggart soldier" of Renaissance comedy. Rather, the character of Parolles parallels that of the Elizabethan "young wits" of the last part of the sixteenth century—he was "a transcript from Elizabethan life."

Lawrence, William Witherle. "All's Well That Ends Well" In Shakespeare's Problem Comedies, pp. 32-77. New York: Macmillan, 1931.

Focuses on the characters of Helena and Bertram using two well-known themes of popular story—The Fulfillment of the Tasks and The Healing of the King—and by looking at Parolles and Lavache. In general Lawrence concludes that Helena is wholly deserving of admiration, not scorn; the ending is unreservedly a happy one; and that the play must be examined in an Elizabethan context to interpret it properly.

Leech, Clifford. "The Theme of Ambition in All's Well That Ends Well." In ELH 21, No. 1 (March 1954): pp. 17-29.

Touches on the possible folktale elements in All's Well That Ends Well; the juxtaposition of older and younger characters; the unsatisfactory ending; and how the element of ambition is intertwined with Helena's love for Bertram. Leech paints a fairly negative portrait of Helena, finding her devious even in her modest language.

Leggatt, Alexander. "All's Well That Ends Well: The Testing of Romance." In Modern Language Quarterly 32, No. 1 (March 1971): pp. 21-41.

Suggests that instead of praising or condemning All's Well That Ends Well it is much more instructive to investigate how this controversy arose. Leggatt attempts to do this by focusing on the characters as "creations springing from, and inextricably wedded to, the peculiar dramatic mode of the play," concentrating in particular on the concepts of romance and realism

Magee, William H. "Helena, A Female Hamlet." In English Miscellany 22 (1971): pp. 31-46.

Explores the "similarities amid many differences" between Helena in All's Well That Ends Well and Hamlet. For example, they are similar in their capacity for affection and love, both are attractive characters, they face comparable difficulties and they have an essential dignity and a "passion for friendship and love together with an awareness of love's nasty side." Spiritually, however, they are quite different. Hamlet is philosophical, a scholar, and muses on abstract ideas; Helena lives in the here and now, in the physical world, relying on divine providence. According to Magee, we can "observe in the comparison of Helena and Hamlet how Shakespeare's unique absorption with his unusually vapid young hero type can be related to his continual interest in the young heroines."

Makaryk, Irene Rima. "The Problem Plays." In her dissertation, Come Justice in Shakespeare's Comedies, 1979.

Discusses All's Well That Ends Well within the context of the two other "problem plays" with which it is usually aligned—Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida.

Maus, Katharine Eisaman. "All's Well That Ends Well." In The Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, pp 2175-81. New York W. W. Norton, 1997.

Provides an overview of All's Well That Ends Well, touching on such topics as the reversal of gender roles, the lack of "endings" in the play, desire, honor, and social class.

Muir, Kenneth. "All's Well That Ends Well" In Shakespeare's Comic Sequence, pp. 124-32. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1979.

Provides a brief overview of All's Well That Ends Well, focusing on the actions and motivations of Helena and Bertram.

Ranald, Margaret Loftus. "The Betrothals of All's Well That Ends Well," In The Huntington Library Quarterly XXVI, No. 2 (February 1963): pp. 179-92.

Examines the laws of marriage in Elizabethan England and how they can be used to analyze the marriage contracts between Helena and Bertram, and Diana and Bertram.

Richard, Jeremy. '"The Thing I am': Parolles, the Comedic Villain, and Tragic Consciousness." In Shakespeare Studies, Vol. XVIII, pp. 145-59. Burt Franklin & Co., Inc., 1986.

Demonstrates how the character of Parolles fits into Shakespeare's development of the metamorphosis of the comedic villain in his work. "Parolles and the manner in which he suggests that all is not well that ends well creates a new Shakespearean drama of the pitfalls of the mental world rather than the pratfalls of the physical."

Roark, Christopher. "Lavatch and Service in All's Well That Ends Well." In Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 28, No. 2 (Spring 1988): 241-258.

Argues that examining the role of Lavatch, the clown, can add an important dimension to understanding the play, especially its more problematic elements, such as the unsatisfying ending.

Shalvi, Alice. "The Pursuit of Honor in All's Well That Ends Well." In Studies in English Language and Literature, Vol. XVII, pp. 9-34. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1966.

Examines how Shakespeare represented various types of and attitudes toward honor through different characters and groups of characters in All's Well That Ends Well. The "older generation" of nobility, represented primarily by the King of France, the Countess of Rousillion, and Lafeu, values honor and virtue, regardless of social rank or birth. The "younger generation," represented primarily by Bertram (and excluding Parolles and Helena), "have inherited none of their elders' virtue and wisdom; they are noble in title, not character."

Shapiro, Michael. "'The Web of Our Life': Human Frailty and Mutual Redemption in All's Well That Ends Well." In JEPG LXXI, No. 4 (October 1972): pp. 514-26.

Argues that Helena and Bertram in All's Well That Ends Well can be seen as symmetrical, parallel characters. At the beginning of the play, both characters need to prove themselves and attain distinction through achievement—Bertram goes off to war and Helena cures the King. However, both experience failure in the process—Bertram gains glory in battle but loses his honor with Diana, and Helena gains Bertram's hand but not his heart. In the end, these two characters redeem each other. It is often noted that Helena redeems Bertram, but he is also an agent of her redemption through his forgiveness of her deception and acceptance of her as his wife.

Simpson, Lynne M. "The Failure to Mourn in All's Well That Ends Well." In Shakespeare Studies XXII (1994): pp. 172-88.

Examines the Oedipal anxieties in Helena and Bertram as they pertain to the failure of each to mourn the death of her/his father. Helena substitutes Bertram for her dead father, and Bertram substitutes the King of France for his. Simpson takes a psychoanalytic approach with regard to the concepts of guilt, death, forgetting, memory, and forgiveness in the play.

Snyder, Susan. "All's Well That Ends Well and Shakespeare's Helens: Text and Subtext, Subject and Object." In English Literary Renaissance 18, No. 1 (Winter 1988): pp, 66-77.

Examines two aspects of All's Well That Ends Well as they relate to Helena. The first concerns the "gaps, disjunctions, and silences" in the play, "where we lack an expected connection or explanation in the speeches or actions" of Helena, primarily as they concern her character's mixture of initiative and passivity. In the second part of the essay, Snyder compares the Helena of All's Well with the Helena of A Midsummer Night's Dream and with Helen of Troy, demonstrating how All's Well's Helena, even at the end of the play, stands in marked contrast to the other two similarly named heroines as undesired subject rather than desired object.

Spencer, Hazelton. "All's Well That Ends Well." In Discussions of Shakespeare's Problem Comedies, edited by Robert Ornstein, pp. 42-44. Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1961.

Argues that one must "accept the romantic plot" of All's Well That Ends Well as is if one is to enjoy the play and find it worthwhile. Spencer especially notes that the bed-trick should not be considered unnatural or unusual, "since the condition was imposed on Helena by her husband," and that the plot of the play necessitated the stupidity and viciousness of the character of Bertram, "if we are to be wholeheartedly for Helena."

Styan, J. L. "All's Well That Ends Well" Shakespeare in Performance Series. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984.

Describes how All's Well That Ends Well has been performed primarily on stage but also on television in the twentieth century. The first part addresses issues of performance; the second part takes the play scene by scene; and the appendix contains listings of twentieth-century productions, major productions, and principal casts.

Tillyard, E. M. W. "All's Well That Ends Well" In Shakespeare's Problem Plays, pp. 94-123. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1949.

Finds All's Well That Ends Well an overall failure due to its lack of execution, its lack of "steady warmth pervading the whole creation," and a "defective poetical style." However, he does find some merit in the plot and in Shakespeare's three main characters, Helena, Bertram, and Parolles.

Ure, Peter. "The Problem Plays" and "All's Well That Ends Well." In The Problem Plays, pp. 7-18. London: Longmans Green & Co., 1961.

Provides a brief overview of the problematic nature of All's Well That Ends Well, focusing primarily on the ending of the play as it relates to the character development—or lack thereof—of Helena and Bertram. Ure finds that in the end, Bertram's character remains unchanged despite his tutelage from the King regarding honor, his "education" in the military, and his witnessing of Parolles's destruction. Bertram's inability to "grow up" and Helena's unflagging goodness provide an unsatisfactory reconciliation of the two in the final act of the play, and thus an unsatisfactory ending (albeit a "proper" comedic one).

Vaughn, Jack A. "All's Well That Ends Well" in Shakespeare's Comedies, pp. 153-59. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1980.

Provides a very brief overview of All's Well That Ends Well, touching on the difficulty critics face in assessing the motives and actions of Helena, Bertram, and Parolles. Also provides a brief stage history.

Warren, Roger. "Why Does It End Well? Helena, Bertram, and the Sonnets." In Shakespeare Survey: An Annual Survey of Shakespearean Study & Production, edited by Kenneth Muir, pp. 79-92. London: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Finds that Shakespeare's sonnets provide "illuminating commentary" to discussions of All's Well That Ends Well. Warren interweaves sonnets and excerpts from the play to explore Helena's "passionate love and the power of its expression," the "curiously unsympathetic portrait" of Bertram; the social gulf between Helena and Bertram; and the unlikely ending to the play.

Wells, Stanley. "Plays of Troy, Vienna, and Roussillon: Troillus and Cressida, Measure for Measure, and All's Well That Ends Well." In Shakespeare: A Life in Drama, pp. 234-244. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Follows the relationship of Helena and Bertram in All's Well That Ends Well to illuminate the play's "moral self-consciousness."

Yang, Sharon R. "Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well." In The Explicator 50, No. 4 (Summer 1992): pp. 199-203.

Briefly explores the parallels between the characters of Lavache and Bertram, particularly how Lavache's "words and experiences expose the absurdity of Bertram's perspective."


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Adams, John F. “All’s Well That Ends Well: The Paradox of Procreation.” Shakespeare Quarterly 7, no. 3 (Summer, 1961): 261-270. Includes a discussion of the human worth and the nature of honor in the play. Stresses the importance of the bed-trick in understanding the play.

Charlton, H. B. “The Dark Comedies.” In Shakespearian Comedy. London: Methuen, 1938. Approaches the comedy from the point of view of the older people and their role in the play. Useful for discussions of characters.

Cole, Howard C. The All’s Well Story from Boccaccio to Shakespeare. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981. A unique source for tracing the different versions of the basic story, starting with Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1348-1353). Detailed discussions include a chapter on Shakespeare’s handling of the tale.

Lawrence, William Witherle. “All’s Well That Ends Well.” In Shakespeare’s Problem Comedies. London: Macmillan, 1931. One of the earliest, and most influential, studies to connect the play with the narrative and dramatic traditions preceding it. Explains the basic folktale underlying the plot.

Zitner, Sheldon P. All’s Well That Ends Well. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989. An excellent critical introduction to many aspects of the play. Considers the stage history, critical reception, sources, and the main critical issues of the play. A good starting point for study.

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