Essay Example: Literary Review of All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare

Published: 2023-07-11
Essay Example: Literary Review of All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Shakespeare Literature review Character analysis Dramatic literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1549 words
13 min read

At some point in life, we are presented with harsh situations where we have to come up with crude approaches to assure the attainment of what we want. In William Shakespeare's "All's well that ends well," there is the presentation of such situations. Helena is the primary protagonist in the story, who is always striving to get what she desires. She is an orphan and gets work as an award for the Countless of Roussillon. In the process, she ends up falling in love with the Countess's son Bertram. She, however, is not as appealing to Bertram, who never recognizes her as someone whom he could be in love with normally.

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Helena, due to her background and medical art, cures the King, who was seriously ill. In return, the King offers her the opportunity to choose any of the men members of the realm that she felt would be suitable for her. She chooses Bertram, who, as identified earlier, doesn't view Helena as a worthy spouse. In turn, he runs away, and Helena is forced to head back home. Bertram later sends a letter informing that he can only readily accept Helena if she got his family ring from his finger and be of his child. Helena uses dubious means to make such a reality. In the eventuality, she is happy as she accomplishes Bertram's demands despite the use of rather crude means. The story then presents the desire that human beings have to get what they want and always strive to certain the same regardless of the methods used.

Use of Bedding Tricks

Helena is seen to use her husband's desire for the daughter of a widow to attain her goals. She tricks Bertram into laying with her with the presumption that she, Helena, was Diana, the daughter of the widow Bertram desired to be with usually. Bertram gives his family a ring to Diana to express his love for her. Helena also assumes the position of Diana that night without Bertram's knowledge. Helena uses deception to get what she wants. She figured this was a way out to satisfying all conditions that Bertram had put in place to be committed to her.

Helena wants to have Bertram for herself. The only way to do this is if she satisfied the conditions that Bertram set for him to be entirely devoted to their marriage. She then utilizes the bed trick to attain what she wants. It is, however, contrary to the previous patterns where this trick was used continuously by men to get their deeds done. However, this sought of action is rather a gamble as there is no assurance of the effectiveness in attaining desired outcomes. The tactic is based on convenience and doesn't assure in the promise of happy marriages after it's occurrence (Strong 78). The situation usually presented by the bedding trick precisely illustrates the limits through which individuals may be willing to go to get what they ultimately desire. It is usually from the pressure that women are subjected to fit into the existing social structures. In this case, however, it suggests Helena's ability to manipulate the presented situation to her favor.

The bed trick in real life is frequently employed by women to lure their spouses or acquaintances into getting them whatever they want. During normal living, every individual is observed to desire to be socially identified in society. In some instances, this can be assured by being in sought of a relationship with another person readily identified in society. Such can be done without the appeal of any political or social entities existing within the community that they are part of (Strong 77).

It is a right that is well-identified, referring to Grotius's theory. Helena, in this case, seizes the opportunity to certain her interests towards Bertram equally benefit her position in society. The veteran had attained the position of general a respectable figure. He would then rationally desire to be associated with someone of equal stature ins society. Helena is just, but award and thus has to be witty if she would ever desire her relationship with Bertram to be a reality.


In Helena's determination to get Bertram to be her husband, she is unscrupulous. However, in her single-minded ambition, she proves to be smart, resourceful, and cunning in getting that one thing she wants above most. On her way to succeeding in this, she starts by curing the King, the one thing all the male physicians in the play have not been successful at. The healing of the King and the tricking of Bertram into sleeping with her shows how super ambitious Helena is and is determined to get what she wants no matter what it takes. Such is true to human nature (Hadfield).

People typically are ambitious, and they strive to get the things that they want. Doing things that may be considered socially inappropriate is not a problem as long as they get what they want. The ambition shown in the play by Helena and what she does to get the husband she craves for is the norm in the real world. It is in human nature to strive to achieve their ambitions without caring for the means used.

In the play, Shakespeare portrays Helena, who is the play's protagonist, as a heroine rather than a villain. Helena is keen on the pursuit of her ambitions. When the King tries to stop her from healing him, Helena cannot take no for an answer. Helena is willing to put even her reputation on the line just so that he can heal the King. She does all this with the ultimate goal of winning the husband she wants above anything else. This side of Helena is also relatable to real life where people are willing to do anything, even risking their reputation, all to achieve that thing they desire most. Helena is portrayed by Shakespeare as being heroin despite using means that may be considered not morally upright. Such shows that it is not always wrong not to follow the usual way of doing things to achieve what we want. It is a reflection of the true nature of humans. People tend to go beyond moral boundaries, manipulating people and things on the way, all to get what they want (Hadfield).

It is not just Helena; there are also other characters in the play, which show a lot of determination in striving to achieve the things that they want. In the play, there is a lot of deceitfulness, lies, and manipulation. The characters in the play are not afraid to bend the law or lie to others in their pursuit of things that they desire. Parolles, a character in the play, is captured by the other French soldiers. To save his skin, he tells the French soldiers everything they want to know, including top secrets. The French soldiers expose him as being a coward. To save his life, Parolles tells his captors secrets. It shows the level people are willing to go to get what they want; in Parolle's case, to save his life (Hadfield). Such is reflected in the real world where people sell their friends, their countries, etc. to achieve their goals.


The whole play, "All is not well," is filled with tricks, manipulation, lies, and deceit. However, most of these tricks and deceits are justified as they lead to a bet ends. The manipulation in the play by Helena and the others are all in the name of achieving what they want. Helena is helped by the widow and Diana into tricking Bertram into sleeping with her. Bertram makes multiple deceptive oaths to Diana to get her to sleep with him. Bertram, on the other hand, is tricked by Parolles. Even Parolles, who is the most deceitful character in the play, is tricked by the French soldiers and kidnapped.

With all the lies and deceptions in the play, there are only a handful of people who can be said to be innocent. The lies are means by the characters in the play to get what they want. Almost all the characters in the play are lying and deceiving each other, one wonders, how can you tell the good characters from the bad ones? The answer to this can be said to be the title, "all is well that ends well." It can be interpreted as implying the end justifies the means. The methods used by Helena are justified as she finally gets what she had craved for a long time. The play reflects the nature of humans in the real world. People bend the law, manipulate people, lie to their friends, make fake promises to their partners, etc. all to get what they desire. The bedding trick is a true reflection of what some women do in society. It is a means employed to trick their husbands. The story shows the desire that human beings have to get what they want and always striving to certain the same regardless of the methods used.

Works Cited

Hadfield, Andrew. Bad faith in All's Well That Ends Well. Palgrave Communications, vol. 2, no. 16051, 2016. Retrieved from

Strong, David. The natural rights exerted in Shakespeare's Bed-Tricks. Philosophy and Literature, vol. 41, no. 1, 2017, pp. 76-94. doi:10.1353/phl.2017.0023.

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Essay Example: Literary Review of All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare. (2023, Jul 11). Retrieved from

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