All's Well That Ends Well: Theme Analysis

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Theme Analysis

All's Well That Ends Well is not a typical Shakespearean comedy.  The play contains elements of death, betrayal, hate, and loss of love.  The only reason the play is not considered a tragedy is because everything miraculously works out in the last half of the last scene of the play.  The play does contain instances of longing and love, but not Shakespeare's typical love at first sight or mutual love between characters. 

Helena, a poor physicians daughter, loves the character Bertram so much that she risks her life to win him in marriage.  When she does achieve her goal, she finds out he does not want her and would be happy to never see her again.  At first, she is saddened by the fact only to turn around and continue on her persistent pursuit of the marriage she covets.  The notion as the woman the pursuer in the romance is not one typical of its time period.  Though everyone in the play, with the exception of Bertram, seemed to love her, Helena was not the popular female stereotype of the time. 

Like Helena accepting the fact that Bertram snubbed her, other characters in the play seem to contain a wealth of forgiveness that is one of the major themes running through the play.  Without second thought, the characters seem to forgive one another for major indiscretions.  The King and Helena both forgive Bertram for his many mistaken deeds; while Lafew forgives Parolles for the evils he has done himself.  Though they are not shown to remain friends, Bertram also forgives Parolles in that he lets him live despite the fact he gave away secrets. 

Lastly, the title, Alls Well that Ends Well, is very important to the main storyline of the play.  It does not seem to matter to the characters or the audience what it took to achieve their position at the end of play, as long as they eventually get what they want.  The play's "forgive and forget" nature seems ideal for the theatre setting, but not for the trials of "real life."

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