Forces of Nature in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale

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Forces of Nature in The Winter's Tale "A sad tale's best for winter," young Mamillius declares (2.1, 25). So ominously begins Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, a story that the audience is immediately tempted to deem a tragedy. However, unlike many of Shakespeare's other later works, which accrue more and more tragedy as the play progresses, The Winter's Tale begins tragically, but concludes happily. The play contains strong elements of both comedy and tragedy, and the course appears to be dictated by the character's relationship with Nature or her representatives. The first few scenes of the play immediately unfold in tragedy with Leontes' unwarranted suspicions of Hermione's infidelity with his long-time friend Polixenes. His initial suspicions stem from the trivial observation that "at [his] request [Polixenes] would not (visit their kingdom longer)," yet with Hermione's, he would (1.2, 87). This iota of jealously erupts into a full fledged and frantic explanation for why his friend would give into his wife's pleading, and not his own. Leontes' decides that the reason must be that "[his] wife is slippery" (1.2, 273). In a flagrant abuse of power, Leontes deals with his own jealousies by indicting his wife and publically slandering her. Again, the charge is completely ridiculous and unfounded, for even Leontes' advisors insist that "the Queen is spotless in the eyes of heaven" (2.1, 131). However, Leontes' false accusations and tyrannical behavior resembles hubris, and is certain to not be viewed favorably by higher forces. Apollo's oracle also belongs under Nature's protection, and any offense taken against it is punishable by Nature. During Hermione's trial, the oracle is brought in and reads: "Hermione is... ... middle of paper ... ...erest. Early seventeenth century England also credited the supernatural, whether it be God or Nature, with having a great deal of influence over their lives. The Winter's Tale serves as a powerful reinforcement of this notion, yet also leaves the audience with sense of hope and optimism in their own lives. Thus, Nature even fashions her seasons as she wills. One year Winter may harvest death and spiritual chill, yet sixteen years later, may reap renewal, redemption, and the warmth of love. At the happy conclusion of the play, Paulina accurately assesses the group to be "precious winners all" (5.3, 131). Works Cited and Consulted Daly, Mary and Jane Caputi. Webster's First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language. Boston: Beacon Press, 1987. Pyle, Fitzroy. The Winter's Tale: A Commentary on the Structure. New York: Routledge & Paul, 1969.
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