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SCENE SUMMARY WITH NOTES
ACT V, SCENE 1
Helena arrives in Marseilles with the widow, Diana, and two attendants. Again, she promises to repay them handsomely for their efforts on her behalf. A gentleman appears on the street, and Helena asks for directions to the King, only to discover that the King has already left for Paris. At first the party of women are discouraged, thinking all their efforts have been wasted. But Helena retains her confidence and asserts that all's well that ends well although at present the situation appears to be bleak. Helena asks the gentleman to deliver a letter to the King, and assures him he will be rewarded for his pains. She tells the gentleman she will follow him to Rousillon as quickly as she can. The gentleman agrees to this, and Helena and the other women prepare for another journey.
The pace of the action increases when Helena arrives in Marseilles only to find that the King has left for Rousillon. There is a sense of urgency, a race against time. This short scene moves the action quite rapidly and inevitably toward the final confrontation scene--a scene in which everyone converges on the court at Rousillon.
ACT V, SCENE 2
Parolles and the clown enter the inner court of the Countess' palace in Rousillon. Parolles gives the clown a letter for Lafeu. Parolles, no longer well-dressed and proud, comments on his present state of disfavor. He reminds the clown that they had been friends when he used to wear fresher clothes; but now he smells of Fortune's displeasure. The clown replies that Fortune's displeasure stinks. Lafeu enters and the clown leaves the two of them alone. Parolles grovels for Lafeu's forgiveness, and Lafeu, after a few wise comments about Parolles being to blame, graciously forgives Parolles.
This scene marks the final stage of Parolles' downfall as he grovels for forgiveness. Lafeu graciously pardons Parolles, and the two are reconciled. The importance of this scene has to do with the nature of Shakespearean comedy. Even the lowliest characters at the end of a comedy must be reconciled so that all loose ends are tied up, good feeling abounds, and everything ends well.