The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0241 Thursday, 29 January 2004
Date: Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 23:22:20 +1300
Subject: Letters in Alls Well
I'm currently directing a performance of All's Well and have been struck
by the number of letters that appear or are referred to in the play.
There are letters referred to from the Countess to Bertram and to
Helena. Then letters from Bertram to his mother and to Helena. A letter
from Helena telling the Countess she is leaving. Later in Florence
Bertram sends letters to Diana, the Countess writes to her son (what
about? - something that 'stings his nature'), Helena writes letters
about grieving to death, Bertram writes to tell his mother he is
returning, Parolles writes to Diana then later to Lafeu, Helena writes
to the King and so does Diana.
At one point in Act II Scene 3 Bertram says "There's letters from my
mother: what the import is, I know not yet." Parolles' reply is "Ay that
would be known" - but it never is.
Has anyone any thoughts about what, if anything, all these letters
signify? While some seem integral to the plot quite a number aren't. Can
anyone recall a production that made something out of them?
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