All's Well that Ends Well
Scene: Rosillion, before the Keep
Enter Parolles, in fool's garments
And so our tale is ended,
It's parts played out,
It's drums and heralds quieted;
And yet, for my part, I would part with one more gift,
Ere I bid you all adieu;
For my fear is that, of the truths imparted in our tale,
There is one that may pass unnoticed,
As the merest of Morpheus’ notions that fly fleetingly through Nocturne’s domain;
Note ye: the tale now imparted,
A fool hath been exposed,
And another concealed.
The former, being myself;
Brought low as befits my behaviors, demeanor, and general character.
No grudge have I for this naming;
Have not my deeds precluded an alternate?
If one is to behave as a boor,
One will be named such.
Indeed! No complaint may I,
A rascal, and base villain,
Hold ‘gainst those that name me so.
Yet, what of the other fool?
What of he whose base behavior hath showed him no more than I,
Though his blood be of a higher stature as befits his noble lineage?
In truth, I name none, other than Bertram himself!
In his particulars, how doth he differ from foolish Parolles?
Note ye how he may feign love for a woman,
That he may enjoy the picking of her womanly bloom,
And yet discard her, as a wilted rose, when he hath done?
Or that he may hold his blood as sacrosanct;
As if its properties alone do raise him above the good heart of a sainted commoner,
Though he be little more than a scurrilous cur?
Enter Bertram and Helen, above. They embrace, as lovers.
In truth, I pity him,
Held as he e’er shall be
In a life that he both deserveth and deserveth not;
Enslaved, through the honor of his blood and dignities,
To a woman for whom he would feign love,
Though he despise her.
For which among mortal men can so quickly change his mien
From scorn to love?
Especially when his outward companions do compel it of him?
All the more bitter, then,
The courtesies afforded him by his peers and his lessers,
Knowing, as he must, what a base person his heart makes him.
A better part is that of humble Parolles:
To be despised openly and truthfully (and deservedly).
Parolles need never fear that the rueful smile cast upon him
May hide more than it doth reveal: scorn, derision, contempt.
For Bertram, each smile is but a mask,
To hide the sneers and whispers that follow him to his unhappy grave!
If our play doth offend in this matter,
Blame not, Parolles!
Your scorn, I accept, and having accepted,
Care not for it!
Those base parts of yourself may chide you,
And if it please you to make Parolles the object of your scorn,
So be it!
I’ll to my grave an honest man, in my dishonesty.