Shakespeare - Alls Well That Ends Well
Scene 1. Bertram, the young Count of Rossillion, is leaving home to take his place at the court of the
King of France, who is gravely ill. Bertram bids farewell to his mother the widowed Countess, her
friend the old lord Lafew and the young and virtuous Helena, daughter of a famous doctor now
deceased, who lives as a dependant in the old Countess’s household. Helena is passionately in love
with Bertram, though without hope because he is so far above her in birth. Parolles, a blustering
soldier who has attached himself to Bertram, is also going to the French court and Helena determines
to follow. She has learned the mysteries of medicine from her father; if she can cure the King, she may
win Bertram’s heart.
Scene 2. The ailing King tells of war between the Florentines and Sienese; he will give permission to
any young gentleman of France who wishes to go to Italy in search of glory. Bertram arrives and the
King greets him warmly.
Scene 3. The Countess gently forces Helena to admit her love for Bertram and reveal her plan to
attempt the King’s cure. The old lady kindly offers her support.