All's Well That Ends Well: A Comedy (HarperPerennial by William Shakespeare

By William Shakespeare

Helena schemes with Diana to satisfy Bertram’s conditions and win his love, yet as Bertram’s infidelity and Helena’s deceits are printed, the viewers is left to wonder whether, in love, the top justifies the capability.

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Additional info for All's Well That Ends Well: A Comedy (HarperPerennial Classics)

Example text

She attempts to advise her sister Elizabeth about the encroachments of Mrs. Clay on her father’s affections, but her words are merely reported as “She spoke, and seemed only to offend” (I, 5, 37). Manifest rather is Elizabeth’s long, rude, and indignant reply. Anne’s response to this is again left oblique and unrecorded, the technique itself seeming to collaborate with her own lack of self-esteem, as if endorsing her non-importance. And this effect is repeated in exchange after exchange, with speeches to Anne given in full, her responses given only in indirect speech or the barest summary.

The notion of planes (or levels of attention) is especially pertinent to an author whose commitment in the later novels is increasingly to group scenes, and to the isolation of exchanges which occur within the inevitable social constraints of public places. If there are exceptions to the notion of Jane Austen as a predominantly dramatic novelist, with little interest in the visible scene, they would be those scenes of apparent interest in landscape. One obvious example is the chapter immediately before the Box Hill episode, the visit to Donwell Abbey.

Existing somewhere between character and narrator, these expressions subdue her even as they bring her forward. This merging of narrator and character is not, as D. A. Miller, argues, a surrender of Austen’s 1. 17 And this recession of the character in the narrative plane continues in another form throughout the first volume. The notion of distinct planes of conceptualization, in fact, essential in the discussion of mise en scène, is helpful in understanding the novel’s technique. Roughly speaking, Anne occupies the foreground, since she is the figure to whom the speech of other characters is often addressed, but the novel characteristically suppresses her own replies in return.

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