DOES “ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL” END WELL? Shakespeare knew when he created Bertram that he was playing with the audience’s expectation of a happy ending to a romantic comedy. At the end of the play boy and girl have been brought together. But what if the boy has shown himself to be a jerk? Tony Tanner points out that Helena in the last act twice says—“optimistically”—“All’s well that ends well”. But the king says has a final word after that: “All yet seems well….” Shakespeare had problematic “happy endings” in Love’s Labor’s Lost, Measure for Measure, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. I only realized recently that the title of “All’s Well that Ends Well” is meant to pose a question.

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