Helena; She Gives All For Love! All’s Well That Ends Well

“Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven.”

Helena is going to pursue the Count Bertram, although, it will be anything but easy. Helena cures the King and asks to be granted one request; the count’s hand in marriage. She accomplishes the King’s restoration from remedies left by her father. She was fortunate to know her father’s cures, but that alone doesn’t win her cause. After hazarding her own life against the success of her father’s medicines, she exemplifies a great example of persistance and courage, pursuing her heart’s desire even after being harshly scolded by the count for her simple backround.  She is a hero that inspires us to attain the impossible. Helena jumps through hoops in order to fulfill Bertram’s two impracticle requests; {getting} a child by him [after he had foregone all association with her] as well as the {his} priceless family ring, and All’s Well That Ends Well in this tragicomic play. Bertam affirms the hint of an engagement and promises to love her dearly, ever ever dearly. In spite of our reservation’s about him, Bertram does stays true to himself. Earlier when he agreed to marriage to appease the King and then skipped town to be a soldier, it tarnished our opinion of his character, yet ultimately he does stay true to his word and presages a motif from The Tempest; Prospero’s Philosophy:

this swift business I must uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light.

Was Bertram perfect, no; he said some very unkind things in the King and Helena’s prescence, yet Helena fancied him and that’s all that matters. Shakespeare sheds light on the notion that when you love someone, you don’t love them because they are perfect, but rather you love them because that’s what your heart feels. To borrow from Midsummer, “Things base and vile, holding no quantity, love can transpose to form and dignity. ” Yes, Bertram verbally agrees to marry Helena and then books it out of town, planning never to reunite, but putting our judgmental hat aside we can look at his character from a sympathetic perspective. He is pressured by the king to marry Helena with yes being the only acceptable answer. According to the King, she is young, wise, fair but these words spoken are from a king just cured of being gravely ill. The King is here at least partially biased. Perhaps Bertram is accustomed to some idiosyncrasies of Helena’s which he just can’t stand; or maybe he just doesn’t like the idea of someone choosing for him. We may be reminded of Portia [in Merchant] who laments, “O me, the word choose! I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike.” Bertram has no say; the The King puts him in a position where if he fully and absolutely rejected her, he would lose all the honor he enjoys as a count by disobeying the King’s wishes; consequentially, the Count Bertam gives Helena a seemingly impossible quest. The fact that Helena goes through what she does; following him through dangerous war zones; not to mention using the bed-trick in order to have his child, clearly shows there’s more to her love for Bertram than meets the eye. She obviously loves some things about him that no one would be able to understand unless we were her. The fact that he is good-looking [his curls in our hearts’ table] isn’t enough to justify her zeal to win his love. Perhaps Bertrams lesson to Helena was akin to Portia’s father’s counsel: who chooseth me must give and hazard all {she} hath. After the vicissitudes of her journey, we can say with confidence Helena satisfied this.

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