All’s well that ends well — “thing” etc.

This is thrown together of course and the numbering collides with the one I used for nothing, but the purpose is to see if there’s any support for my claim here that Shakespeare’s use of these words involves his interest in things whose existence is in a certain sense questionable: emotion, theater, deceits. [In what sense is the existence of those things uncertain?]

Two examples of the nothing-something ambiguity playing out in All’s Well that leap out are Parolle’s boasting –his claims to being something are nothing– and Helena’s unconsummated marriage ( “‘Tis but the shadow of a wife you see, The name and not the thing”).

All Things, Anything, Everything, Something, Thing

All things: 2.1.758 (Hel. It is not so with Him that all things knows As ’tis with us that square our guess by shows). 1.2.303 (King. All but new things disdain.)

Anything: 1.1.165 (a withered pear will you any thing with it? Hel. Not my virginity yet.) 3.6.1758 (Second Lord… never trust my judgment in any thing.) 4.3.2320 (Bert. I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now he’s a cat to me.) 5.3.2916 (Bert. Am I or that or this for what he’ll utter, That will speak any thing?)

Everything: 2.4.1258 (Hel. In every thing I wait upon his will.) 4.3.2233 (2nd Lord. nor believe he can have every thing in him by wearing his apparel neatly.) 4.3.2342 (Par. he has every thing that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should have, he has nothing.)

Something: 1.3.436 (Steward to countess. “It concerns you something to know it.”) 1.3.573 (“There’s something in’t/ more than my father’s skill.”) 2.5.1291 (Lafeu. A good traveller is something at the latter end of a dinner; but one that lies three thirds and uses a known truth to pass a thousand nothings with, should be once heard and thrice beaten.) 2.5.1354 (Hel. Something; and scarce so much: nothing, indeed.) 3.5.1712 (Mariana. He’s shrewdly vexed at something: look, he has spied us.) 4.1.1984 (First soldier. Something to save thy life.) 4.3.2095 (Second Lord. there is something in’t that stings his nature) 4.4.2452 (Hel. You, Diana, Under my poor instructions yet must suffer Something in my behalf.)

Thing: 1.1.225 (Hel. The mightiest space in fortune, Nature brings To ioyne like, likes; and kisse like natiue things.)  2.2.877 (Clown. I see things may serve long, but not serve ever.) 2.3.893 (Lafeu. to make modern and familiar, things supernatural and causeless.) 2.3.1026 (Hel. From lowest place when virtuous things proceed, The place is dignified by the doer’s deed). 2.4.1212,1213 (Clown. Truly, she’s very well indeed, but for two things. Helena. What two things?) 2.5.1277 (Par. These things shall be done, sir.) 3.6.1626 (their promises,/ enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these engines of/ lust, are not the things they go under). 4.3.2102 (2nd Lord. I will tell you a thing.) 4.3.2111 (1st Lord. as we are ourselves, what things are we!) 4.3.2413 (Par. simply the thing I am Shall make me live.) 5.3.2743 (King. Our rash faults Make trivial price of serious things we have.) 5.3.2974 (Par. and things which would derive me ill will to speak of; therefore I will not speak what I know.) 5.3. 3028 (Hel.‘Tis but the shadow of a wife you see, The name and not the thing.)

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