The Character of Helena

4 April 2015
An analysis of the character of Helena in Shakespeare play “All’s Well That Ends Well.

This paper presents a character analysis of Helena in the Shakespearean play All’s Well That Ends Well.” Often criticized for her manipulative deeds and lack of feminine attributes, Helena’s personality is explored by focusing on her feminine and masculine traits and by analyzing her motives. Shakespeare’s use of literary devices such as foreshadowing is also explored.
“In Shakespeare’s plays, we often find the female characters to be more powerful and unique in their attributes than the ones that existed in actual 17th century English society. This is exactly the impression we get from the character of Helena in All’s well that ends well, as the woman refuses to be bound by moral and societal restrictions and passionately seeks fulfillment of her desires. Not only that, we also notice that Helena, though lower in social standing than her husband Bertram, doesn’t take into account the status barriers and being fully aware of her rights as a wife tries to win her husband over despite his persistent rejection.

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The theme of ethics and morality dominantly overshadows the entire play with readers being forced to analyze and judge every person’s motives and every situation in the light of twisted sense of morality that Helena possessed. Helena’s character has been a constant source of conflict among critics as Levin (1930) writes, `Some regard her as a genuine romantic heroine–resourceful, yes, but also virtuous, feminine, charming, and modest. She never behaves cynically, and her motives are above reproach . The alternative view is that Helena mercilessly pursues Bertram. Whether she is at first motivated by love, sex or ambition she sets out to trap Bertram, succeeds, and–when he flees her–captures him again. She gets the husband she deserves, a spoiled aristocrat.` (Levin, pg. 131)”

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