All’s Well That Ends Well is not one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays. In fact, it’s one of his plays that is very rarely performed. It is also not a widely loved play: it currently sits at 31 on our list of best Shakespeare plays (out of a possible 39). However, I recently watched a brilliant production by The Globe Theatre in London and it reminded me that is plenty to love about this largely ignored Shakespeare play. All’s Well That Ends Well is not only an under-appreciated play, it also features a number of great monologues—particularly for the leading female role of Helena. So although it is a lesser-known play, definitely consider it when looking for a Shakespeare monologues for auditions.
One of the great things about using monologues from plays like this is that they aren’t overdone in auditions. There are many Shakespeare monologues such as “Thou nature art my goddess” or “I left no ring with her what means this lady” that auditors have heard to death. These unfamiliar Shakespeare monologues can help you stand out at an audition: they show that you have done your homework.
All’s Well That Ends Well Character List
This should be a helpful guide to the core characters in the play, and will save you some time in deciding what monologues are appropriate for you. Remember that gender is no longer a big factor in auditioning. Age is also not such a big concern, as long as it doesn’t make the text feel remote. For instance: if you are eighteen and performing King Lear, it is unlikely playing a very old king will be an idea you can easily connect with. This may result in your work feeling disconnected.
King of France: 40-65
Duke of Florence: 40-65
Bertram, Count of Roussillon: 20-35
Parolles, a follower of Bertram: 20-35
Countess of Roussillon, Mother of Bertram: 40-65
Helena, a Gentlewoman under the protection of the Countess: 18-30
Lavatch, a Clown in her household: usually played by an older male, but could be any age
Lafew, a lord: 50+
Old Widow of Florence, (referred to as Capilet): 50+
Diana, Daughter of the Widow: 20 -35
All’s Well That Ends Well Female Monologues
Helena Monologue Act 1 Scene 1
This first monologue from Helena is actually a soliloquy, which means you are alone on stage. This is an important factor as it will affect your performance and your relationship with yourself and the audience. The Countess believes that you are crying over your father, but in fact you are crying over Bertram leaving who you are deeply in love with. While you are unable to share these thoughts in the preceding scene, you confide your true feelings to the audience once everybody leaves.
O, were that all! I think not on my father,
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
I have forgot him. My imagination
Carries no favour in’t but Bertram’s.
I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. ’Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
Th’ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must die for love. ’Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour, to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls
In our heart’s table – heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.
But now he’s gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?
One that goes with him. I love him for his sake,
And yet I know him a notorious liar,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward.
Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him
That they take place when virtue’s steely bones
Looks bleak i’th’ cold wind. Withal, full oft we see
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
Helena Monologue Act 1 Scene 3
In this scene, Helena is confessing to the Countess (Bertram’s mother) that she loves her son. The Countess has a special fondness for Helena, and they have a good relationship, but Helena is well below Betram is social standing. For this reason, she is aware how far-fetched the idea of marriage would be.
Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.
For more information on Helena’s Monologue from Act 1 Scene 3
Helena Monologue Act 3 Scene 2
‘Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France.’
Nothing in France until he has no wife.
Thou shalt have none, Roussillon, none in France;
Then hast thou all again. Poor lord, is’t I
That chase thee from thy country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim, move the still-piecing air
That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord.
Whoever shoots at him, I set him there.
Whoever charges on his forward breast,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to’t,
And though I kill him not, I am the cause
His death was so effected. Better ’twere
I met the ravin lion when he roared
With sharp constraint of hunger; better ’twere
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Roussillon,
Whence honour but of danger wins a scar,
As oft it loses all. I will be gone:
My being here it is that holds thee hence.
Shall I stay here to do’t? No, no, although
The air of paradise did fan the house
And angels officed all. I will be gone,
That pitiful rumour may report my flight
To consolate thine ear. Come, night; end, day;
For with the dark, poor thief, I’ll steal away.
All’s Well That Ends Well Male Monologues
Parolles Monologue Act 1 Scene 1
Parolles is speaking with Helena, trying to convince her of the folly of maintaining one’s virginity. Parolles is a brash and confident character unafraid to share his thoughts. I have included the Helena interjection so you know it’s there, but this works well as a complete monologue.
Virginity being blown down, man will
quicklier be blown up. Marry, in blowing him down
again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your
city. It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature
137to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational
increase, and there was never virgin got till virginity
was first lost. That you were made of is metal to make
virgins. Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten
times found; by being ever kept, it is ever lost. ’Tis
too cold a companion. Away with’t!
I will stand for’t a little, though therefore I die a
There’s little can be said in’t; ’tis against the rule
of nature. To speak on the part of virginity is to accuse
your mothers, which is most infallible disobedience.
He that hangs himself is a virgin: virginity murders
itself, and should be buried in highways out of all
sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against
nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese,
138consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with
feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish,
proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most
inhibited sin in the canon. Keep it not; you cannot
choose but lose by’t. Out with’t! Within t’one year it
will make itself two, which is a goodly increase, and the
principal itself not much the worse. Away with’t!
King of France Monologue Act 1 Scene 2
I would I had that corporal soundness now
As when thy father and myself in friendship
First tried our soldiership. He did look far
Into the service of the time, and was
Discipled of the bravest. He lasted long,
But on us both did haggish age steal on,
And wore us out of act. It much repairs me
To talk of your good father. In his youth
He had the wit which I can well observe
Today in our young lords; but they may jest
Till their own scorn return to them unnoted
Ere they can hide their levity in honour.
So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness
Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were,
His equal had awaked them, and his honour,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speak, and at this time
His tongue obeyed his hand. Who were below him,
He used as creatures of another place,
And bowed his eminent top to their low ranks,
Making them proud of his humility,
In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man
Might be a copy to these younger times,
Which, followed well, would demonstrate them now
But goers backward.