All's Well That Ends Well


All's Well That Ends Well was written in 1605. It has remained as one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays until recently. It has been referred to in the past as a 'problem play' because it is neither a tragedy or a comedy and because the male protagonist, Bertram, seems so unsympathetic in comparison with the female lead, Helena. Bertram's change of heart is also sometimes seen as too quick and therefore dramatically unconvincing.

But the romantic story is full of warmth and features one of Shakespeare's favourite tricks - gender role reversal.

Helena is gifted, kind and in love with a man who does not love her in return. When he is forced to marry her against his will, he volunteers to fight in a distant war, desperate to experience life, rather than be tied to a devoted wife. Heartbroken that her love has forced him to join the war, Helena turns her back on the world until years later fate throws them together again.

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Teaching Shakespeare