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All's Well That Ends Well (The Pelican Shakespeare) Paperback – August 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 113 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014071460X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140714609
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This dark comedy, written in the very early 1600s, is the latest title in the revamped "Pelican Shakespeare" series, which offers definitive texts of the plays with scholarly introductions, essays, and notes. You can't go wrong with this wonderful series. FICTION
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on July 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a bitter play with a happy ending. It's full of people deceiving and cheating each other but the title is fulfilled and all ends well. Or does it?

Is the happiness at the end of the play deserved? Do two wrongs make a right? The well-known proverb says they do not, so we would expect Shakespeare to agree but he doesn't. The hero and heroine, Bertram and Helena, wrong each other but in the end they get what they want, especially Helena, so two wrongs do seem to make a right. And yet, something feels off. The memory of deceit and trickery remains with the protagonists, so perhaps things don't end that well after all.

Helena is a sincere, loving, deserving woman. Her late father was the physician to the House of Rossillion. She is in love with Bertram, the young count, but as mere servant she cannot aspire to marry into nobility. She does have an ally however in the old Countess Rossillion and Bertram's mother. The countess thinks Helena's qualities outshine her low status and is happy at the thought of Helena as her daughter-in-law. But how to match the two?

Helena's father left her a secret cure with which she heals the dying King. As a reward, she asks that he gives her the husband of her choice. The King agrees and she chooses Bertram. Bertram is aghast and accepts only after the King threatens him. He cheats Helena however as he resolves to go abroad without ever consummating the marriage.

He makes his way to Florence and enters the service of the Duke. Much to everyone's surprise, not least the audience's, Bertram reveals himself a valiant warrior. He falls in love with a local woman, Diana, but knowing he is married she refuses his advances.

In the meantime, Helena follows Bertram to Italy in secret and meets Diana.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Wilfong on July 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
In giving this play 4 stars, I am comparing it against Shakespeare's other work, not against any other writer.
This is supposedly one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", but I don't see the problem. We have characters who have extreme emotions (a favorite Shakespeare motif) and some situations that border on ridiculous, but the emotion and heart of the conflict reflects reality in a way that only Shakespeare can produce. Although modern audiences may balk at Helena's throwing of herself at a man who disdains her, we must remember that Helena is in love, and thus, not always rational. Love wants its desires, not practical solutions.
Alls Well also includes a wonderful Shakespearian character in Parolles. The man is a coward, a fool, and a braggart. The irony (and joy) of his character is that he knows and accepts these faults in himself. Despite his poor qualities, he is really the most honest character in this work. Read this play if for no other reason than to introduce yourself to this this great character.
Existential questions about self worth and the paradoxical nature of humanity are the real crux of this play, and once again, Shakespeare shows us what it means to be human. As one character says in Act IV, "The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together..." Alls Well demonstrates this in the dual nature of almost every character and plot device.
As for the Pelican Shakespeare series, they are my favorite editions as the scholarly research is usually top notch and the editions themselves look good as an aesthetic unit. It looks and feels like a play and this compliments the text's contents admirably. The Pelican series was recently reedited and has the latest scholarship on Shakespeare and his time period. Well priced and well worth it.
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By Ricardo Mio on October 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"All's Well That Ends Well" is one of Shakespeare's "problem comedies" because the conventional workings of comedy are stretched to the breaking point. We wonder what it is Helena sees in snobbish, ungracious and stiff-necked Bertram. Helena is pure-hearted, resourceful, and not easily defeated. Bertram is high-born and a louse. He disdains her obvious virtue and beauty, and finds her ludicrous as a prospective mate, due to her lowly birth as a poor physician's daughter. So, what is it that Helena sees in him? Shakespeare never gives us a satisfactory answer, and we are left with what amounts to a cliche: love is blind.

"All's Well that Ends Well" may have originally been titled "Love's Labor's Won," a play thought to have been lost, and a companion play to "Love's Labor's Lost," written around 1590-92. Some critics thinks so, and point to a line in the play as evidence, uttered by Helena: "This is done; Will you be mine, now you are doubly won?"

There is a consistent theme regarding men and women in Shakespeare's comedies and "All's Well That Ends Well" is no exception. Shakespeare adored women, and praised the marriage covenant as the very cement holding civilization together. He portrayed a good marriage as not merely romantic but as heroic. He created a series of female characters who were both passionate and pure, who gave their hearts spontaneously and remained true to the bargain in the face of tremendous odds. Men, on the other hand, are not nearly so good or so pure and require chastening before they are allowed to get the girl. Indeed, men are fickle and quick to shy away from commitment. They do not recognize true love when it stares them in the face. These are the very qualities that describe Helena and Bertram.
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