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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES
ACT III, SCENE 3
There is a flourish and sounding of trumpets and drums as the Duke, Bertram, and Parolles enter the court at Florence, along with the soldiers. The Duke appoints Bertram the general of the cavalry and says that he invests his trust and love in him. Bertram courteously replies that although it is a heavy responsibility, he will endeavor to discharge it to the best of his ability and will venture to the very edge of danger. The Duke is satisfied by Bertram's reply and wishes him good fortune in his endeavors. Bertram appeals to Mars, the god of war, and remarks that from this day onward, he will be a lover of the drums of war and "hater of love".
This brief scene shows Bertram's arrival in Florence. The duke appoints him the general of his army, the first step toward the military glory Bertram is certain will make him great.
It is important to remember that Bertram was not supposed to go off to fight. Once again he shows disobedience to the King and furthers the theme of deception in the play.
ACT III, SCENE 4
In Rousillon, the Countess enters along with the Steward, upset over Helena's midnight departure. In a farewell letter, Helena tells the Countess she is responsible for the entire mess and hopes now Bertram will feel free to come home. She says she has gone off on a pilgrimage, never to return. The Countess is incensed by Bertram's conduct and the hurt she can sense in Helena's words. She tells the Steward to write to Bertram about Helena's departure and to choose his words appropriately so as to do justice to Helena's worthiness and the Countess' grief. She hopes that Bertram will return as Helena suspects, and that Helena herself, after hearing of his arrival, may be drawn back to Rousillon by her pure love.
This scene is in perfect contrast to the one immediately preceding it. Blameless Helena, deeply troubled and sorrowful, presents herself as a calm, noble figure while Bertram, who truly is to blame for a bad situation, carelessly pursues his military career with no thought to the suffering of others. Once again, the Countess shows her fondness for Helena and recognizes that she is a more noble character than her own son. She is hopeful that the couple will somehow make amends in the future.