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All's Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare, Pelican) Paperback – September 30, 1965


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Product Details

  • Series: Shakespeare, Pelican
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Sub edition (September 30, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140714308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140714302
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,036,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Susan Snyder is Gil and Frank Mustin Professor of English Literature, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Cummings on January 12, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
All's Well has been unfairly treated. It's supposed to be one of Shakespeare's worst plays, but it is truly fascinating. It is subtle, and the conflicts are rich. Here, no one is purely good or bad, and perhaps it's the difficulty of feeling drawn to a variety of characters who are in conflict that makes people dislike this play. The female lead is bravely determined. The male lead is completely controlled by the political situation. Of course he wants his freedom! The adoration that the female lead feels for him must seem like a trap. . . And yet she does feel it, and she's willing to do everything to realize her dream. I love the reality of this play. It isn't glorious like Hamlet, it isn't abject like Lear. Instead, it's a picture of a middle class reality that gives us insight into sex, liberty, love, and authority.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As you would expect from Oxford, this is a very well done edition of the play, with a comprehensive introduction (though I wished for a little more theatre history myself) that covers the major issues in this "problem" comedy (though it is not nearly so much a problem play as, say, Troilus and Cressida, in fact being much closer in many ways to Measure for Measure), several textual appendices, an index, useful textual- and foot-notes (there seem to be a great many phrasings in this play that need explanation--a result of revision?), and two of Shakespeare's direct sources in Erasmus and Painter. There were a few points when I disagreed with the interpreations offered in the footnotes, but overall, the apparatus is excellent.

As for the play itself, the main action concerns the efforts of Helen to recapture her husband Bertram, who is given to her by the King as a reward for curing his fistula. He does not think she, as a physician's daughter, is worthy of his station and flees to the wars in Italy without consumating the marriage. The comic subplot involves the exposure of the cowardice of his companion, Paroles. Helen evnetually fulfills the requirements Bertram sets out in a letter--to obtain his ring and bear a child by him--through a bed trick, and the play ends where it began, with the King (echoes of Lear?) offering Diana, who helped in the trick, her choice of husband.

Overall, a very good edition of a less popular play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on July 27, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's one of Shakespeare's lesser-loved plays, so why did I have so much fun reading "All's Well That Ends Well"?

Helena is a young woman who loves Bertram, son of her protectress. Bertram is uninterested in Helena, however, preferring to sow his wild oats along distant battlefields with women he doesn't have to waste time with in the morning. When events conspire to place Bertram in Helena's arms, he shrugs them off and breaks her heart anyway. But Helena won't give up on Bertram, no matter how much of a cad he may be.

It's called a "problem play" for some reason, perhaps because it's hard to understand Helena's unwavering devotion. It could be called a "remarriage comedy" or a battle of the sexes with the women clearly on top. To me, it's a story of hopeless infatuation redeemed, in a way that doesn't shortchange the pain of love most if not all of us have experienced more than we care to remember.

Helena explains her blind devotion eyes wide open: "Religious in mine error, I adore/The sun that looks upon his worshipper/But knows of him no more."

Bertram prefers the companionship of Parolles, described well by several critics as a comic Iago. Your miles may vary, but for me Parolles was one of Shakespeare's most joyously despicable foils, a hollow braggart undone by his own excesses. Also, as a character you need Parolles to mitigate the worst of Bertram's behavior (he doesn't know better than to follow Parolles, even if every other member of the cast sees right through him.)

Early on there's a wonderful exchange about the pros and cons of virginity between Helena and Parolles, Parolles pointing out that if virginity is so wonderful, how can it be wrong to lose it in order to create more virgins?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By meowzers on May 25, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered what I thought would be this book because it had the really big font for "All's Well That Ends Well". I needed big font because this book is a prop for the stage.

Now I'm sitting here with a book I need to begrudgingly use.
Honestly, how hard is it to use the correct picture for your book?
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