The Importance of Time in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale Essay

The Importance of Time in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale Essay

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The Importance of Time in The Winter's Tale

 

Leon. No foot shall stir.

Paul. Music, awake her; strike! [Music]

Tis time; descend; be stone no more; approach;

Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come!

I'll fill your grave up: stir, nay, come away:

Bequeath to death your numbness; for from him

Dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs:

--The Winter's Tale (V.iii.98-103)

 

Unlike most of Shakespeare's earlier plays, The Winter's Tale moves from tragedy to comedy. The disastrous consequences of Leontes' jealousy and tyranny are resolved by the passing of time. Only after sixteen years can the two royal families come together again. Time also plays a significant role in the reading of the chosen passage. The passage is full of commas, colons, semi-colons, and periods, which force the lines to be slowed and pausing. The frequent punctuations draw the reader's attention to time and its effects on the words being spoken by the characters. The scansion of the passage illustrates Shakespeare's mastery of time as he manipulates the rhythm of the lines using varying foots and meters. Time seems to be the crucial element in not only the scansion of this passage, but in the development of the play as a whole.

 

Line ninety-eight begins with a half-line consisting of only two feet, "No foot shall stir." The brevity of the line and the slowness of the opening spondee help to create the tension before Paulina attempts to summon the statue of Hermione. Leontes wants everyone to stand still while Paulina tries to give life to the statue. He says, "No foot shall stir" (98). Meanwhile, the metrical feet in line ninety-eight do "stir" as the pentameter is broken up into two ha...


... middle of paper ...


...vidual from imminent danger. When time is misused or misjudged, as seen in Leontes' hasty accusations and also in Antigonus' tardiness in returning to the ship, Time can lead to utter destruction.

 

Works Cited

Gomez, Michelle. "A History of Clocks." Online posting. 4 Mar. 2001.

Shakespeare, William. The Winter's Tale. Ed. J.H.P. Pafford. London: Routledge, 1994.

Works Consulted

Bloom, Harold. The Winter's Tale (Modern Critical Interpretations). Chelsea House Publishers, 1992.

Granville Barker's Prefaces to Shakespeare: A Midsummer Nights Dream: The Winter's Tale: The Tempest. Granville Barker. Heinemann, 1994.

Innes, Sheila. The Winter's Tale (Cambridge School Shakespeare). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Pyle, Fitzroy. The Winter's Tale: A Commentary on the Structure. New York: Routledge & Paul, 1969.

 

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