All's Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 2

Summary

Bertram woos the widow's daughter, Diana, with success, or so he thinks, and therefore he gives her his family ring as a token of their arranged meeting:

Bertram: It is an honour, 'longing to our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
Which were the greatest obloquy i' th' world
In me to lose.
Diana: Mine honour's such a ring;
My chastity's the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
Which were the greatest obloquy i' th' world
In me to lose. (42-50)

Diana agrees to let Bertram into her chamber at midnight on condition that he remain absolutely silent during their encounter and that they stay together for one hour only. At that time, she will place another ring on his finger, "that what [which] in time proceeds / May token to the future our past deeds."

Analysis

The language in this scene is bland — Bertram utters cliches, calculated to capture the fancy of a girl with whom he wants to have sex, and she knows it:

My mother told me just how he would woo,
As if she sat in 's heart. She says all men
Have the like oaths. (67-69)

Diana is, of course, acting for a price, yet notice the delight she takes in teasing Bertram along the way. He tells her, Parolles-like, that her cold manner is inappropriate, that she should be "as your mother was / When your sweet self was got." Diana's reply is calculated to irritate:

Diana: No. My mother did but duty;
Such my lord, as you owe to your wife.
Bertram: No more o' that! (12-14)

Shakespeare drives the point home that Bertram is very irresponsible when he relinquishes his family ring; Diana mockingly repeats, word for word, his "bequeathed down from many ancestors" speech.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Bertram refuses to marry Helena because he




Quiz