PEOPLE HATE BERTRAM. This year the Shakespeare on the Sound production was “All’s Well That Ends Well”. I walked the two blocks down the hill to see it this week. I read it in college as one of Shakespeare’s problems plays, and I had seen it performed. It is done infrequently because a lot of people dislike it. In fact, Mary Jane and Annalisa each refused to go with me. The reason that they didn’t want to see it is that the play is about the love that Helena bears for Bertram—and Mary Jane and Annalisa and most of the other people who see or read the play hate Bertram. I admit that I also, to use an expression of my father’s, have a scunner on Bertram.
Tony Tanner—my favorite critic—comments that: “Shakespeare certainly seems to want to make Bertram blacker than black with NO extenuations….Bertram is his own man. It just happens that it is a particularly rotten sort of man to be.”