All's Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scenes 4-5

Summary

Helena assures the widow and Diana that their help will be rewarded: " . . . Heaven / Hath brought me up to be your daughter's dower." In other words, they will simply have to endure a bit longer until the plot reaches its end.

In Rousillon, Lafeu comforts the Countess, who believes that Helena has died, "the most virtuous gentlewoman that ever Nature had praise for creating." They discuss the return of Bertram and the anticipated arrival of the king of France, who "comes post [haste] from Marseilles, of as able body as when he numbered thirty [was thirty years old]." A match is proposed between Lafeu's daughter and Bertram. Also present is the clown Lavache, whose wordplay and sexual jokes grow tedious to Lafeu.

Analysis

Things grow worse before they get better, although "all's well that ends well," as Helena assures Diana. The scene at Rousillon is out of joint, and even the clown "has no face, but runs where he will." The "death" of Helena weighs on their minds, and the clown's off-color foolery seems grating and very much out of place, even to the point where Lafeu "grows aweary" of him. The clown remarks on a scar which Bertram is covering with "a patch of velvet." Such a scar might be the result of an honorable encounter in battle, yet to Lavache it seems more likely to be the mark of a lanced ulcer, of the sort which appears on syphilitics. This ugly note closes the scene.

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