Реферат: All's Well That Ends Well, in Shakespeare's Comedies. From Roman Farce to Romantic Mystery

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... Compared to the comedies I have discussed already, All's Well seems gray if not bleak, not because its viewpoint is jaded or disillusioned but because its chief characters do not delight us by their verve or humor or expansiveness of thought. Bertram is the least philosophical and perhaps the least intelligent of the heroes of the comedies. He does not reflect on his experiences, much less on life, and he seems incapable of introspection and self-knowledge. He never wrestles with alternatives even though he finds himself repeatedly in difficult predicaments. Although his conduct appalls those who love him, he is never burdened by shame or guilt, and he can be dishonest as well as callous. Because his inner life (if he has one) is hidden from an audience, it knows and judges him by his acts, which are thoroughly unlovely. Helena is a more complex character who is revealed as much through soliloquy as through dialogue. Unlike Bertram she is thoughtful and reflective by nature, yet her speeches lack choric amplitude and range because she is as self-absorbed as he is, forever occupied with her quest to become his wife. More than any other heroine, Helena is single-minded in her romantic dedication, and yet she is the least romantic in temperament of any Shakespearean heroine. As serious as her namesake, Helena of A Dream, she is incapable of light-heartedness or gaiety. Love does not inspire her to flights of whimsical or ecstatic poetry, and she seems nearly incapable of spontaneity. Thus while Helena will dare all for love, the Countess's remembrance of her youthful passion is the most poignant expression of romantic yearning in the play; and the only love scene, ironically enough, is the one in which Bertram attempts to seduce Diana. The hero and heroine are alone together only once and that is when Bertram takes his leave, never expecting to see Helena again. He seems almost incapable of tenderness, and she is almost indifferent to what he desires in her determination to become his wife.


The absence of romantic idealism in All's Well is not an inevitable result of Shakespeare's choice of the Boccaccian tale, which ends with the loving embrace of husband and wife. Even as Petruchio is less attractive than his counterpart Ferando in A Shrew, Bertram is less attractive than Boccaccio's Beltramo, although he is not coarsely contemptuous of women, as Petruchio is. Immature and inexperienced, he is quite incapable of seeing through Parolles' preposterous affectations, which he takes for courtly graces. He is also incapable of seeing beyond his immediate desires, but his faults would seem pardonable enough if Helena's determined pursuit of him did not bring out the worst in his character. He wants what most young gentlemen want-to win honor on the field of battle and to sow a few wild oats before he settles down to marriage and adult obligations. His youthful male instinct for freedom and adventure is opposed by Helena's desire to turn the would-be hero into a husband and father. Having just escaped his mother's watchful eye, Bertram yearns to prove himself a man among men. The disclosure in act 5 of his earlier attraction to Lafew's daughter seems almost an afterthought by Shakespeare because one cannot imagine Bertram in love or desiring to share his life with a woman. He does not love Diana or seek to win her love; he wants only the spoil of her maidenhead, which is no less a trophy than the capture of an enemy's drum. After he has proved his gallantry, won the esteem of his fellow officers, and possessed the prize of Diana's virginity, he is ready to marry Maudlin, especially when it will redeem him in the eyes of the King, his mother, and Lafew. ...