The Winter’s Tale ★★☆☆½

winterstale (Custom)

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Title: The Winter’s Tale
Author: William Shakespeare
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Play
Pages: 256
Words: 74K


From Wikipedia

Following a brief setup scene the play begins with the appearance of two childhood friends: Leontes, King of Sicilia, and Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. Polixenes is visiting the kingdom of Sicilia, and is enjoying catching up with his old friend. However, after nine months, Polixenes yearns to return to his own kingdom to tend to affairs and see his son. Leontes desperately attempts to get Polixenes to stay longer, but is unsuccessful. Leontes then decides to send his wife, Queen Hermione, to try to convince Polixenes. Hermione agrees and with three short speeches is successful. Leontes is puzzled as to how Hermione convinced Polixenes so easily, and so he begins to suspect that his pregnant wife has been having an affair with Polixenes and that the child is Polixenes’. Leontes orders Camillo, a Sicilian Lord, to poison Polixenes. Camillo instead warns Polixenes and they both flee to Bohemia.

Furious at their escape, Leontes now publicly accuses his wife of infidelity, and declares that the child she is bearing must be illegitimate. He throws her in prison, over the protests of his nobles, and sends two of his lords, Cleomenes and Dion, to the Oracle at Delphos for what he is sure will be confirmation of his suspicions. Meanwhile, the queen gives birth to a girl, and her loyal friend Paulina takes the baby to the king, in the hopes that the sight of the child will soften his heart. He grows angrier, however, and orders Paulina’s husband, Lord Antigonus, to take the child and abandon it in a desolate place. Cleomenes and Dion return from Delphos with word from the Oracle and find Hermione publicly and humiliatingly put on trial before the king. She asserts her innocence, and asks for the word of the Oracle to be read before the court. The Oracle states categorically that Hermione and Polixenes are innocent, Camillo is an honest man, and that Leontes will have no heir until his lost daughter is found. Leontes shuns the news, refusing to believe it as the truth. As this news is revealed, word comes that Leontes’ son, Mamillius, has died of a wasting sickness brought on by the accusations against his mother. At this, Hermione falls in a swoon, and is carried away by Paulina, who subsequently reports the queen’s death to her heartbroken and repentant husband. Leontes vows to spend the rest of his days atoning for the loss of his son, his abandoned daughter, and his queen.

Antigonus, meanwhile, abandons the baby on the coast of Bohemia, reporting that Hermione appeared to him in a dream and bade him name the girl Perdita. He leaves a fardel (a bundle) by the baby containing gold and other trinkets which suggest that the baby is of noble blood. A violent storm suddenly appears, wrecking the ship on which Antigonus arrived. He wishes to take pity on the child, but is chased away in one of Shakespeare’s most famous stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Perdita is rescued by a shepherd and his son, also known as “Clown”.

“Time” enters and announces the passage of sixteen years. Camillo, now in the service of Polixenes, begs the Bohemian king to allow him to return to Sicilia. Polixenes refuses and reports to Camillo that his son, Prince Florizel, has fallen in love with a lowly shepherd girl: Perdita. He suggests to Camillo that, to take his mind off thoughts of home, they disguise themselves and attend the sheep-shearing feast where Florizel and Perdita will be betrothed. At the feast, hosted by the Old Shepherd who has prospered thanks to the gold in the fardel, the pedlar Autolycus picks the pocket of the Young Shepherd and, in various guises, entertains the guests with bawdy songs and the trinkets he sells. Disguised, Polixenes and Camillo watch as Florizel (under the guise of a shepherd named Doricles) and Perdita are betrothed. Then, tearing off the disguise, Polixenes angrily intervenes, threatening the Old Shepherd and Perdita with torture and death and ordering his son never to see the shepherd’s daughter again. With the aid of Camillo, however, who longs to see his native land again, Florizel and Perdita take ship for Sicilia, using the clothes of Autolycus as a disguise. They are joined in their voyage by the Old Shepherd and his son who are directed there by Autolycus.

In Sicilia, Leontes is still in mourning. Cleomenes and Dion plead with him to end his time of repentance because the kingdom needs an heir. Paulina, however, convinces the king to remain unmarried forever since no woman can match the greatness of his lost Hermione. Florizel and Perdita arrive, and they are greeted effusively by Leontes. Florizel pretends to be on a diplomatic mission from his father, but his cover is blown when Polixenes and Camillo, too, arrive in Sicilia. The meeting and reconciliation of the kings and princes is reported by gentlemen of the Sicilian court: how the Old Shepherd raised Perdita, how Antigonus met his end, how Leontes was overjoyed at being reunited with his daughter, and how he begged Polixenes for forgiveness. The Old Shepherd and Young Shepherd, now made gentlemen by the kings, meet Autolycus, who asks them for their forgiveness for his roguery. Leontes, Polixenes, Camillo, Florizel and Perdita then go to Paulina’s house in the country, where a statue of Hermione has been recently finished. The sight of his wife’s form makes Leontes distraught, but then, to everyone’s amazement, the statue shows signs of vitality; it is Hermione, restored to life. As the play ends, Perdita and Florizel are engaged, and the whole company celebrates the miracle. Despite this happy ending typical of Shakespeare’s comedies and romances, the impression of the unjust death of young prince Mamillius lingers to the end, being an element of unredeemed tragedy, in addition to the years wasted in separation.

My Thoughts:

These Ancient History plays, based on Greek history stuff, bore the stuffing out of me. Plus, the characters act completely nonsensical.

Leontes going into his jealous rage for no reason, then suddenly repenting, it just pissed me off. Of course, he repents after his wife and son die and he has sent his newborn daughter to be killed by exposure. What a bastard.

While I’m always a sucker for a Redemption story, simply changing your mind about some extremely horribly bad behavior is NOT redemption. Gahhhhh, I’m really disliking this Shakespeare fellow at the moment.


47 thoughts on “The Winter’s Tale ★★☆☆½

  1. You are in a clearing. There are exits to the north and east. You find the sword of Zaggoroth. Suddenly, the beast of Arghesy approaches, it’s teeth sharp and eyes bright. What do you do?

    1) Run?
    2) Stay and Fight?
    3) Read A Winter’s Tail by Shaikespeare?
    4) Turn to page 74

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Glad you’re enjoying these back and forths. I hope it encourages more people to read the comments section here on my blog 😀
        And it helps that my partner in crime is quick on his feet. Sometimes I wonder how he does it…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, seriously had to laugh at that comment from tensecondsfromnow. I know what I would do, but hey I’m not you😊
    I have never read Shakespear in any form, it just never really appealed to me in any form (and yeah I know that’s maybe considered a form of heresy on my part😅). Seeing this review though and reading up on the story, I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon😅😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 10seconds and I have a pretty good comedy gig going on. I feel bad for all the people who don’t read the comments section, because they are missing out on a modern comedy classic 😉

      Reading Shakespeare is a goal I’ve had since the 90’s. It has just taken me a long time to get around to it and while I must admit that it really isn’t a “successful” journey, I am glad to be doing it. But you will NEVER hear me trying to get others to read Shakespeare :-/

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, yeah I already noticed that a couple of times, good stuff indeed! 😂 (And who doesn’t love pick a path to adventure books…I have an entire collection of them!😀😀)
        Yeah, well…I never say never, so who knows, I might one day pick up a Shakespeare book as well, but it certainly won’t be something that I’m planning in the near future that’s for sure 😂

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Ok, you are in a clearing as the sun sets. A Voltan warrior approaches, his axe raised. What do you do?

            1) read volume nine of Philip Jose Farmers Trilogy of Zaggeroth?

            2) hide in a rabbit hole

            3) transcribe the complete works of Shakespeare

            4) grow a Freddie Mercury moustache

            Time is running out…

            Liked by 1 person

                    1. I remember our school library had a whole rack of the CYOA books and I tore through them. Of course, I cheated a lot too. Keeping my finger on the page until I decided which outcome I liked 😀

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. You are Macbeth. The King stands in the way of your ambitions. Do you…

                      1) Kill the King?
                      2) write to your local political representative?
                      3) kill everyone
                      4) visit a local farm and find out how milk is made?

                      I know you’re good at this kind of thing, let’s see that rpg mind in action!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Ok, you are Hamlet. Your suspect your uncle has killed your father. Do you…

                      1) kill your uncle.
                      2) talk to yourself and be horrid to your girlfriend
                      3) sail to England.
                      4) kill everyone and let Fortinbras sort them out.

                      Time is running out…

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember liking this one, but I only read a shortened prose version of it, never the actual play. I’ll be curious to see what I think of the source material when I eventually get around to reading it. Abridged and modernized versions might just be the way to go with all of Shakespeare…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am reading an omnibus Complete Collection and so far things to seem to be in alphabetical order with some sort of genre dividing it up? I’m pretty sure I’m done with the comedies, currently in the ancient histories and still have the tragedies and regular histories to go through.

      All that to say that I don’t know what is coming up until I turn the page….

      Liked by 1 person

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