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By William Shakespeare

Helena schemes with Diana to meet Bertram’s conditions and win his love, yet as Bertram’s infidelity and Helena’s deceits are printed, the viewers is left to wonder whether, in love, the top justifies the capacity.

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Extra resources for All's Well That Ends Well: A Comedy (HarperPerennial Classics)

Example text

The other possibility is that the invisible hand is not a real influence at all, either on men’s actions or on their effects, but merely a pattern that emerges when those actions are regarded in the aggregate from a distance. This pattern bears all the signs of divine intent, in that it creates beneficent order from selfish chaos – except that it preserves the absolute freedom of individual actions. This view has the advantage of both harmonizing with the religious idea of a divine plan – since practically speaking there is nothing to distinguish the capitalist order from the divinely planned one – and entirely dispensing with the need for divine intervention.

The national good depends here on the individual’s extension of his sphere of self-interest to include the rest of the nation, defined as the place where he feels ‘at home’. Smith asserts that the individual merchant would rather keep his capital close to home than establish far-flung trading routes among different countries, because he can keep it better under surveillance. For instance if an Amsterdam merchant has trading posts in Lisbon and Königsberg, he feels ‘uneasiness ... at being separated so far from his capital’, and routes the goods through Amsterdam, so that he may have ‘some part of his capital always under his own view and command’, rather than sending the goods directly between the cities (WN I, 454–5).

Capitalism is both a national and an international structure: while the capitalist fantasies I will analyse here are usually explicitly committed to the welfare of their authors’ respective nations, they are also unable definitively to bracket out the idea that capitalism might bring instability as well as wealth from abroad. British novels tend to be a little more strongly committed to the promises of the new economic order, and perhaps are more vividly self- conscious about the paradoxical connection between this optimistic future and the failures that may lead up to it – but the literature of many countries at this time contains an element of ludic dismay at the uncontrollable nature of the new society, and a search for intellectual and emotional ways of erecting boundaries against it.

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