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Free Study Guide-All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare-Free Notes
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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES

ACT IV, SCENE 2

Summary

In this scene, Bertram pursues Diana, who appears to succumb to his flirtations. She asks him for his ring. At first he declines to give it to her since it is a token of family pride and honor; but Diana insists, saying she will only give herself to him if he gives her the ring. She then makes plans to meet him after dark for one hour. She sets the condition that he is not to speak to her during that hour. Then, she promises to give him her virginity.

Notes

Bertram's character is further degraded in this scene. He debases himself by seducing Diana and giving away his family heirloom to supposedly win her body. His courtship is obviously marked by shallow sentiment as opposed to true affection. He states that "love is holy," but ironically urges Diana to satisfy his "sick desires".


Diana's mother has warned her all about Bertram and told her of the plan she has made with Helena. As a result, Diana holds the wicked Bertram in complete contempt and remarks after he leaves that my mother told me just how he would woo, / As if she sat in's heart".

When Diana remains aloof to his advances, Bertram becomes more pressing in his protestations of love. He explains to her that he was forced to marry Helena and never loved her. At the same time, the hypocritical man asserts his undying love for Diana while knowing all the time that he just intends to make temporary use of her. To satisfy his own desires of the flesh, he lies openly to her by pledging, "I love thee / By love's own sweet constraint, and will for ever / Do thee all rights of service." Diana knows better than to believe him. She claims that his pledges and swearing are just a common trick used by men trying to seduce women. Bertram insists that he is innocent and that his "integrity n'er knew the crafts / That you do charge men with".

This scene moves the plot of the play towards its resolution. In accordance with Helena's plan, Diana pretends to yield to Bertram and demands his ring. At first Bertram is reluctant to part with it because it is a symbol of his family honor and faith. Diana retorts that her chastity is a precious jewel that demands a high price. Finally, Bertram agrees and says, "Here take my ring ; / My house, mine honor, yea, my life be thine, / And I'll be bid by thee". Bertram is such a cunning seducer that he even promises to marry Diana after his wife's death, showing that he is devoid of honor and honesty.

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