English 431B: Advanced Shakespeare

A survey of the works from the second half of William Shakespeare's career

The Winter’s Tale Notes

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Written near the end of his career.

The opening speech of the play gives the impression that it is made half on-stage and half off. This is to draw the audience into the action. The second half of the speech in Act 1, Scene 1 is important to note.

Two secondary characters: Camillo (Sicilian) and Archidamus (Bohemian)

Act 1, Scene 2

Time is a major motif throughout the play.
* Line 11 (+) –> Polizenes
* Line 34 (+) –> Hermione’s plea for Polixenes to stay
* Polixenes line ~62(+)/line 67 (+)
* Polixenes is a family friend, has known them since childhood

Doctrine of original sin
Adam and Eve affected all humankind after them; stained by the fist sin. Sacrement is done by Christians to baptise people to wash away that sin.

The world of this play however is pre-Christianity.

Speech is more likely about sex.

“Stronger blood” mention alludes to sexual passion

Sexuality of scoiety is overt, yet simultaneously submerged. It is subtle, but there.

Leontes notices strange juxtaposition of facts. He suspects Polixenes impregnated his wife.

Strangeness of the world of the play. It exceeds ‘strangeness’ other plays.

Leontes is deranged.
*Line 128 (+)
– Talking to Mamillius (his son, who’s young about 5 or 6 years old)

Difficult speech to follow for his son.

Leontes mind is turning in on itself. He is going crazy, becoming paranoid.

Leontes switches his thoughts mid-speech, which further paints a portrait of his deteriorating mental state.
–> The actor must convey confusion of character.

His jealousy feeds on emotion, not factual evidence. Leontes is his own Iago.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Heroism  in speech
Act 3, Scene 2
Hermione: “Since what I am to say must be but that…” (Line 20- 52)

Strange that the king goes mad quickly and re-gains his sanity quickly.

Play ‘Pericles’ bares several similarities to this play.

Shakespeare’s change in style was a signal in the shift in societal tastes.

In an instant everything changes in the world of this play.

Act 4, Scene 1
Personification of Time: Old man, bearded, toga (perhaps), carried a scythe (perhaps), carried an hour-glass. 16 years has gone by in a blink of an eye.



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