On Not Being Reconciled to Bertram:Alls Well That Ends Well and the Conventions of Renaissance Comedy

A.P. Riemer


All's" Well That Ends Well is a "problem play". It is said to contain a much greater concern with social and moral issues than most of Shakespeare's earlier and less "serious" comedies. Yet criticism is exercised by certain peculiarities of characterization and presentation which are so contrary to its elevated atmosphere. Consequently, the play's difficulty has often been stressed; it is frequently regarded as a fascinating failure, an essay in the treatment of pressing moral and sexual problems which had, somehow, gone wrong through Shakespeare's ill-advised attempt to pour this potent stuff into the old bottle of comedy.

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