One of the themes that emerges from Shakespeare’s comedy All’s Well That Ends Well is the conflict between old and new, age and youth, wisdom and folly, reason and passion. As one critic points out, a simple glance at the characters of the play reveals an almost equally balanced cast of old and young. “In performance it is apparent that the youth of the leading characters, Helena, Bertram, Diana and Parolles, is in each case precisely balanced by the greater age of their counterparts, the Countess, the King of France, the Widow of Florence and the old counselor Lafeu.”1 Indeed, the dialectic between youth and age is established in the first act as the Countess sees a mirror of her former self in Helena’s love sick countenance in scene three when she exclaims “Even so it was with me when I was young,” and Bertram’s worthiness to the ailing King of France in the previous scene appears to hang upon his youthful resemblance to his deceased father. As the King explains, “Such a man might be a copy to these younger times,/Which followed well would demonstrate them now/But goers-backward” [I.2. 49-51].
Like so many literary youths of his day, Shakespeare went backward for his source material for All’s Well and based the play on Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. Boccaccio’s early sixteenth-century story revolves around Giletta of Narbona, the daughter of a wealthy and respected physician. Giletta, like Helena (the daughter of the deceased–and indigent–Gerard de Narbonne), falls in love with young count Beltramo, follows him to Paris where she remedies the King’s incurable disease, and, because of her newly-acquired royal favor, is granted the right to demand a husband: Beltramo. Despite …
… middle of paper …
…ng the confusing and difficult landscape of gender politics and postmodern deconstruction. And rather than accept Helena’s all too confident statement that “All’s well that ends well,” we might more willingly embrace the King’s more ambiguous statement,” All yet seems well.”
1 J.L. Styan, All’s Well That Ends Well (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984) 15.
2 W.W. Lawrence, Shakespeare’s Problem Comedies, 1931 rpt (New York: Ungar, 1960).
3 Anne Barton, “Introduction,” All’s Well That Ends Well in The Riverside Shakespeare ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974) 501.
4 Ibid, 500.
5 David McCandless, “Helena’s Bed-trick: Gender and Performance in All’s Well That Ends Well” Shakespeare Quarterly 45 (1994): 455.
6 Richard A. Levin, “All’s Well That Ends Well, and ‘All Seems Well’,” Shakespeare Studies (1980): 131.
7 McCandless, 450.
Signs of Racism by Rajiv Kapur
Signs of Racism by Rajiv Kapur
Signs of Racism offers a glimpse into what racism means today.
Historically, racism was more prevalent, more obvious, but actually
less disparaging to the victim than it is today. You see, SoR
underlines the fundamental reasoning that quiet, subtle jabs with
racist remarks are more pestilent. The subjugated can overcome overt
oppression because none ‘can respect his oppressor.’ Kapur offers us a
number of examples of what the signs of (subtle) racism are; many of
which may not be obvious to readers.
SoR provides proof that the antagonistic sentiments of racists are due
in part to not one, but several factors – each offering a very
convincing argument. Kapur provides signs that at first may appear
benign, are actually deeply motivating factors of malevolence to
people of other races. SoR makes it quite clear to all, that racists
do not feel compassion for members of the race which they are
displaying their ‘subtle’ partiality.
Racism is shown to stem from an individual who needs to maintain
(albeit, an imaginary) position of supremacy. A racist will use all
means possible to subjugate the victimized race. A racist feels no
remorse or sympathy for the impact his racist actions have on the
victimized. The overall aura of all the signs projects a racist of
hatred and heartless sensibilities.
SoR is not an impartial piece of literature. Kapur provides us with
the views of a person afflicted by subtle racism. Consequently, we see
the views of the victim and not the racist expressed. This position is
espoused by the majority of the world, and so is readily accepted.
(That might be an interesting concept for a book, though – Hatred of
the Bigot.) This partiality does not impair his writing, however. On
the contrary, the lifetime reality Kapur was familiar with (covert
racism) supports his subjective reasoning.
The description (or rather, oblique explanation) of a racist was also
emphasized in SoR – a racist is a racist regardless of ‘religion,
intelligence, cultural level, social status, benevolence towards
members of their own race or social motivation.’ The stereotype of a
racist is abolished. Kapur argues that racists come from all races and