Talk:All's Well That Ends Well

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Is this really one of Shakespeare's most unpopular plays? What about Titus Andronicus? What about Henry VI? What about Pericles? What do y'all think?

I have a little concern about the listing of Shakespeare's plays... Although Romeo and Juliet does have the word "tragedy" in the title, and it is often thought of as a tragedy, I think it is actually considered a comedy by the strictest definition of terms... What do you think? :Simon 18:23, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't think anybody knows much about the popularity of many of Shakespeare's plays during his own lifetime. The records on performances are often scanty or non-existent. But I'd lump this one in along with Measure for Measure and The Two Gentlemen of Verona as Shakespeare's morally problematic comedies. We today rebel against the resolutions, such as they are, presented in these plays. The playgoers of Shakespeare's day probably did as well, but maybe not always for the same reasons.

As for other plays, such as Pericles or Cymbeline or The Comedy of Errors, among others, the debate on their quality is endless. Certain of Shakespeare's plays are frequently criticized as tedious and dull. (I believe it was John Dryden who excoriated Pericles as a "moldy old tale.") But everybody has their own idea, of course, of which plays should be in the list. D nuttle 15:21, 24 January 2007 (UTC) BS

Problem play, not necessarily unpopular[edit]

I think this play, correctly catagorized as a "problem play," should not be looked at as an unpopular one. The reason, I feel, that this one hasn't gotten the amount of stage time as "Much Ado About Nothing" or "Hamlet" is that it's confusing to those who want something more straightforward and easy. Thanks to the producers of the Shakespeare Canon, we get what we get becuase it will make money. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 01:42, 20 May 2007


I don't know how to edit wikipedia very well or I would add this myself, but there is a post-hardcore band named Chiodos who has an album with the same title. I was just thinking that there should be one of those "For the Chiodos album see *insert link*" things at the top. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 18:28, 3 June 2007

"Believed" with past participle[edit]

My grammar is getting a little rusty but does this edit need a verb, rather than a past participle used adverbially? The intent of the change is for the better. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:38, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Auxiliary verbs added.--Old Moonraker (talk) 07:41, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Performance History[edit]

"the earliest occurred in 1741 ... while the actor playing the King of France subsequently died" - the rest of the cast are presumably still alive? This vague and woolly paragraph confuses more than it explains about the play. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Heenan73 (talkcontribs) 14:40, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Expanded, to give the circumstances. --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:35, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

How about two synopses, one short and one long?[edit]

What I've found on other Shakespeare-play pages is that the synopsis is often short enough to be useless (Henry V page, I'm looking at you!). Why not use a "short synopsis" section, and a "full synopsis" section, for this and every Shakespeare play?

I wrote the long synopsis for this play. If it's too long, that's fine, I don't want to engage in a style war around here. But I think every S. play page could benefit from a synopsis with enough detail that one can follow the course of the plot.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by 73mmmm (talkcontribs) 16:14, 24 December 2014 (UTC) The above is my attempt at discussing the synopsis length 'too long' template.

Since the 'too long' complaint, there is now an additional short synopsis, and no other complaints or discussion of 'too long' in over 2 years, so I have removed the "too long" template. Here's my overall rationale for the length as it is: 1) The synopsis is one sentence per scene, for a play by quite likely the most famous playwright of all time. 2) I can only find record of one user thinking it's too long, and one user (me) thinking it isn't. There is no consensus, let alone discussion. 3) There are scads of wikipedia pages about literature/theater that are much longer about much more trivial things than this. 4) Take a look at the plot summaries of major novels on wikipedia; I don't believe this play's synopsis is out of line.

I don't quite understand the style matters around here, so I'm leaving a note on the talk page in full disclosure. I hope common sense applies here in some way, and not just style guides (which are not written in stone, anyway). In the bigger picture, believe it or not, there just aren't synopses of this play online, let alone many in print.

73mmmm (talk) 04:20, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

@73mmmm: Apologies for not noticing this sooner. Nothing more frustrating than feeling like you're writing into a vacuum! As for the synopsis, yes, the current one is clearly too long for Wikipedia, and the capsule summary makes it worse, not better (it's overall length, not the length of an individual section, that is the concern). There is no specific number of lines or such that is considered acceptable or unacceptable (it would vary by scope and complexity of what is being summarised), but you should probably use the "Plot" sections of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet as your reference. These articles are featured articles, which means they've been through an extensive peer review with input from many editors (and many editors who specialise in article quality and the project's featured content). Hamlet, in particular, was problematic to cut down due to the plot's complexity, and what's currently in the article is strictly speaking too long (it just barely managed to squeeze by because it is one of the most famous plays, by the most famous playwright, in the western canon; there would have been far less leeway given for a lower profile play).
That being said, the length of the synopsis is probably not the highest-priority improvement to the article right now. While it could profitably be cut down quite a bit, time would probably be better spent on expanding the other sections. As one example, the "Sources" section is best described as perfunctory, and there's no "Date and text" section (you can find a draft guideline for articles about Shakespeare's plays here, and the two featured articles linked above would also be good templates to use).
And finally, good to see more people help out with the Shakespeare articles here. Thanks for helping out; it's much appreciated! --Xover (talk) 11:29, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

Hi Xover, Thank you for explaining how editing works here. I will help add to and polish the All's Well page next time I can get around to it, including the date.

It's not really for me to cut my synopsis down: a) I don't have the heart for it (it was my own work, straight from the primary text, of a play without much existing scholarship. Also, believe me or not, I had two world-class professors check it for inaccuracies) b) even when I look at this soberly, I don't quite agree with some of the wikipedia standards, and most of my rationale is noted above. I just don't see how consensus rules of thumb should win out on whether it's 500 words or 2500 words, or whether a page having a short and a long synopsis is better or worse (I am sure bandwidth ultimately matters, but at the same time, it's hard to take 1 KB vs 2 KB seriously).

Conversely, I do see exactly why the 'feature article' standard makes wikipedia a much better place, even if that means that murkier corners of wikipedia are ridiculously copious in their verbiage. And since I checked and I'm here to play fair, I'll leave this note here: Hamlet synopsis ~1500 words. All's Well synopsis ~2200 words. I should note that, having studied All's Well thoroughly, it's a more plot-heavy and dense play than some other Shakespeare works (which is probably a big part of why there are practically no detailed synopses out there). Thanks Xover! 73mmmm (talk) 16:52, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

@73mmmm: No, you shouldn't feel obliged to trim the synopsis yourself; all good faith contributions are welcome (perfection is not a requirement ;D). However, you should be prepared that someone will come along and slap a new "synopsis too long" maintenance tag on it at some point. Many editors will do that almost as a reflex whenever they happen across an article, even though they have no particular interest in it (heck, it might even be me that does it, a few years down the road when I've forgotten all about this conversation). I'd offer to help trim it down (and I might take a stab at some point), but I'm not sufficiently familiar with the play to feel confident I wouldn't completely butcher it.
I won't claim to be familiar with the full rationale for the limitations on synopsis length, but the main point is what the community has determined to be an acceptable tradeoff between an accurate and detailed summary, and accessibility for the reader. A synopsis that is too long is hard to read, and it tends to drown out the rest of the article. There are generally plenty of sites on the web for plot synopsis, so the synopsis in Wikipedia articles should only be sufficiently detailed for the needs of the article. Bandwidth isn't an issue, readability is.
PS. On talk pages it's customary to indent replies relative to the message they respond to, using ":" at the beginning of the line for the first reply, "::" for the second, and so on. So my reply to you here is indented one level with ":". Any reply to my message should be indented one more level with "::". It's also often a good idea to trigger a notification for the editor you're replying to to make sure they don't miss your message (I have thousands of pages on my watchlist, it's really easy to miss a reply). You can do that by linking to that user's user page with [[User:Xover]], or by using the template {{re}} (like so: {{re|Xover}}). The template will show up in your message like your username does at the beginning of this message; and it will make a notification show up in the recipient's menu like you should have seen as a result of my message. Neither one is a big deal if you forget or can't be bothered (some of this stuff can be really tedious), but they're little niceties that can make talk page discussions a little more convenient. --Xover (talk) 22:29, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
@Xover: Ok, I'll try to indent right now, and to ping you. My place on wikipedia will probably be the occasional minor edit, the occasional de-vandalsim or de-advertisement, and the very occasional in-depth 10-15 hour project, like my work on this page, maybe once every year or three. Of course, you know if bandwidth isn't a problem, I will still ask: why not two synopses, one short and one long? But as I alluded to above, I might rock the boat but I'm not here to overturn it. I may question the hive-mind every time, but that's about it. Anyway, I took great joy in creating the synopsis for the very last Shakespeare play without one on en.wikipedia!! I brag about it to people who couldn't care less!! Cheers!73mmmm (talk) 06:27, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
@73mmmm: Heh heh. Yeah, I'm also quite unreasonably proud of various very obscure little contributions on here that nobody would really understand why they are such a big deal to me. I can only say, they please the author of my story. :)
That being said, a good plot summary here is no small thing, and I very much appreciate the contribution. That it is not 100% in compliance with Wikipedia's style guide and conventions does not detract from that i any way.
Regarding the two synopses, since the issue is the overall length of the synopsis, relative to the rest of the article, and its readability, adding a short synopsis just compounds the problem of the long synopsis rather than alleviate it. To make matters worse, having two sections that deal with the same thing in different ways is confusing for readers. In other words, I would suggest simply removing the capsule summary and then just leave the fully summary as it is for now. There is no urgent need to make it shorter, and if you're not motivated to do it yourself (quite understandably, I assure you) it can easily wait until someone has the time, expertise, and inclination to deal with it. As mentioned, there are several more urgent needs for improvement in the article than an overly long plot synopsis.
And finally, I'm glad to hear you'll continue to contribute to the project as time and interest dictate. While Wikipedia has lots and lots of articles (I think it passed the 5 million mark recently), a lot of them are of really rather depressingly poor quality; and the surest way to improve them is lots of editors making many small improvements over time. A concerted effort by experienced editors and subject matter experts can dramatically improve a single article in a short time, but that has very little impact on the millions of other articles that need improvement. So welcome, and thank you, and I hope you find many interesting little (or bigger) projects to work on, and that please the author of your story. :-)
Regards, --Xover (talk) 11:26, 31 January 2017 (UTC)

No indication of date[edit]

There is no discussion of the date of the play here' as withbother plays. And no given my previous experiences as sn editor I can't be bothered tondo it myself but thought I'd point it out. (talk) 13:46, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

Who decides whether a synopsis is too long or too short?[edit]

On what standard is wikipedia deciding what's too long when there are longer wikipedia pages on more trivial matters than a Shakespeare play? Is the shortening of the synopsis here a consensus decision, or the actions of one person?

(Full disclosure: I'm miffed that my long synopsis was deleted. There was absolutely no public-internet detailed synopsis of the play, so I created one. It stood for years. It was long but accurate. I have a degree in English Lit, and I got help from Emma Smith from Oxford, who checked it for accuracy and intelligibility)

Here are the four plays closest to All's Well That Ends Well by length, and their current wikipedia synopsis lengths:

  • Romeo and Juliet: ~629 word synopsis
  • Henry VI, Part III: ~1042 word synopsis
  • AWTEW goes here by actual length
  • Richard II: ~593 word synopsis
  • Merry Wives of Windsor: ~1032 word synopsis

The new shortened version of the AWTEW synopsis: ~390 words

Current AWTEW analysis and criticism section: ~627 words

Previous capsule summary: ~335 words

My previous full synopsis: ~2196 words

Was it long? Yes. Is the new one short? Yes. But there's a quality question beyond that. I'll leave you to judge the quality of the new one for yourselves, but at minimum it editorializes ("Thus all ends well") and it leaves Paroles to the end of the section. More to my point, across all of Shakespeare-on-wikipedia, how are the pages stronger for having short synopses? Why not a capsule summary and a full synopsis? I just don't see any point in saving space on matters as concrete as a detailed synopsis of what actually happens in the plays, which is at least as important as the analysis and criticism section. 73mmmm (talk) 09:41, 29 April 2019 (UTC)

@73mmmm: All content decisions on Wikipedia are made by consensus. Establishing consensus can be achieved many ways, but one commonly adopted method is the bold—revert—discuss method: an editor makes a change they believe beneficial, another disagrees (signaling it by reverting the previous change), and all interested parties then discuss the matter on the article's talk page until a consensus is formed. The link gives more details on the method and its pros and cons, but one main goal of it is that changes can be made directly without needing long discussions first. In most cases this is desireable. In a typical case a change is made and nobody objects, signalling an implied consensus in favour of the change; and when someone does object, the change is easily reverted and the discussion can happen only when actually needed.
As to the length of the plot summary, there is no bright-line rule, but one commonly cited guideline is the subject-specific guide for plot summaries for films. It is not always a good fit, and so needs to be applied with some nuance, but it is a good rule of thumb to start with. That being said, Shakespeare's plays typically have a much more convoluted plot than your average modern mainstream film, and so it is often necessary to have a longer plot summary. An extreme example of this is Hamlet.
Now I do agree with you that we should not be quite so afraid of long plot summaries, so long as we avoid the sort of "fancruft" that tends to sneak in on articles on popular culture subjects (think the Twilight movies or the Marvel franchise); but the concern for the reader should still weigh heavily. Wikipedia articles are an overview of the subject and needs to cover all aspects in somewhat comparable proportion. If the plot summary becomes excessive it will unbalance the article and be off-putting to the reader.
All that being said, if you think you can further improve the plot summary then you should feel free to do so. If you believe the change will be controversial then opening a discussion here first may be a good idea, but it should include some specific proposal (not just an abstract discussion of length limits) so interested editors have something concrete to assess. I haven't looked at the current plot summary, nor read the previous one in a long time, so I don't have any immediate opinion on their relative merits.
PS. There are about 1500 Shakespeare-related articles on Wikipedia, and most of them are in dire need of improvement, but only a very small handful of editors who regularly work in the area. If this is your field or a subject that interests you, even small contributions could have a huge positive impact on our coverage of Shakespeare. By my own observation (others may disagree) we are particularly weak on critical approaches and literary criticism in general in the play articles (and almost completely blank on gender studies, feminist, and queer theory approaches). --Xover (talk) 10:53, 29 April 2019 (UTC)