In the play The Winter’s Tale, the significance of the title The Winter’s Tale is that it highlights foreshadowing and slight irony by giving the character with the least lines, Maxmillius, one of the most important lines: “A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one of sprites and goblins” (Shakespeare 51). The Winter’s Tale also happens to occur during the wintertime. This line foretells the play’s general plot, depicting that the play will most likely be of a sad and depressed nature and may end tragically.
It is also ironic because the reader, till this point, has not realized how significant of a character Maxmillius turns out to be since this character does not seem to impact the play significantly. The function of setting in The Winter’s Tale is to provide important background information for the play and allow many specific events in the plot to happen. For example, certain plot events like the murder of people without any objection would not be allowed or culturally accepted in certain time periods and cultures.
Another example is when they abandon Perdita. She was left in a forest with “fairy gold” in hopes of giving her a chance at life. In different time periods or regions, the baby would not have just been taken and the superstitious beliefs would not have allowed the Shepherd to adopt the child without inquiry or suspicion. Social relationships are also important to the development of setting, for example, women are treated poorly and have little or no power over their lives in the patriarchal society.
This allows Hermione to be treated with little or no respect when accused of a crime and gives her little power. Other prominent females in the play also have little control over decisions and government, and depend on the power of persuasion, such that of Paulina true intentions of trying to convince Leontes to have mercy on the baby, as shown on when she states, “We do not know How he may soften at the sight o’ th’ child. The silence often of pure innocence persuades when speaking fails” (Shakespeare 120).
In the play The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare employs an example of external conflict when he writes about the fight between Leontes and Polixenes over Polixenes’ fidelity to show that loyalty is often tested due to jealousy. The conflict between Leontes and Polixenes is man vs. man, starting when Leontes plots to murder Polixenes over his assumptions: as shown here: “…mightst bespice a cup To give mine enemy a lasting wink…Maliciously like poison” (Shakespeare 33).
However, it is most likely that after a certain amount of years, Leontes has most likely apologized to Polixenes, seeing as they seem to have forgiven each other or remained neutral sometime over the past sixteen years. An example of internal conflict in The Winter’s Tale is when Leontes struggles to face the fact that he may not be correct in his assumptions about Hermione and Leontes.
It seems that several times in the text, he refused to consider the objections of his assumptions being wrong by various people, even ignoring the Oracle by continuing to believe that Hermione is guilty: “You had a bastard by Polixenes, And I but dreamed it…Look no less than death” (Shakespeare 95).
He ignores various objections to Hermione’s supposed guiltiness, and demands that both Hermione and the newborn infant to be killed. In the result of his actions, Hermione and Maxmillius have died, and he later begins to mourn for them instead of detesting them. Hermione is shown to be a charming, graceful, compassionate hostess, as she seems to persuade Polixenes to stay with little difficulty, as shown: “My prisoner or my guest? By your dread “verily,” One of them shall be (Shakespeare 15). ” Polixenes then responds with “Your guest them madam.
”She is also shown as a regal, graceful character, seeing that she seems to be respected enough and favored among the government. Her personality is important to the plot because her charismatic nature is what gets Leontes suspicious that she is having an affair. Hermione is not shown throughout the book as dynamic, for she does not change significantly and does not stray from her personality. Her possible changes does not seem to affect the plot much due to the fact that Leontes would have accused her of the crime regardless if she had changed throughout the play.
The author seems to use Hermione as the innocent blame taker, showing that it is often the powerless that take the responsibility of the actions of the powerful. This character is psychologically interesting to the audience due to the possibility that they have been in similar situations, where they have taken the blame for when they are innocent. From a thematic perspective, Hermione also seems to represent the philosophical idea that the innocent eventually rise victorious against the blamers.
This idea relates to the play’s main theme because it is parallel to that irrationality and pride often lead to disastrous results. She functions within the structure of the plot by being the blame-taker of the story and being critical for many plot events to happen. This character does have some effect in driving the plot, however, there are also others who drive the plot. Hermione seems to define many of the characters seeing that people respect her, such as Paulina or Polixenes.
Hermione’s actions and words affect the meaning of the play as a whole by showing that the friendship and loyalty of her friends prove that being respectful and loyal to one’s peers pays off in the end. In the play, Leontes is portrayed as a somewhat rash, jealous character who makes quick assumptions. His personality is important to the conflict of the plot since the plot revolves around his accusation that Hermione was unfaithful, starting with his thoughts of cheating: “To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods. I have tremor cordis on me.
My heart dances, But not for joy, not joy (Shakespeare 19). ” He does change in a dynamic way, after the deaths of his wife and child, he becomes humbler and wiser from his previous mistakes. The author uses this character to make a comment on human nature that pride and jealousy can ultimately lead to disastrous results and be the downfall of oneself. This character is most likely psychologically interesting to the audience due to his irrational choices and interesting perspective. Leontes also presents the philosophical idea that a one should not be rash in making one’s decision.
This idea relates to the play’s main theme of that pride and greed lead can lead to one’s downfall. The thematic importance is revealed to the reader by his mistakes and by plot twists. Leontes functions within the structure of the plot as the antagonist, being the one who causes the most trouble. The plot seems to revolve around him and his decision specifically, as well as the many people affected by his actions, so Leontes does drive the plot. His actions and words affect the meaning of the play as a whole because his actions lead to the play’s thesis.
In conclusion, The Winter’s Tale, written by Shakespeare, showcases how pride and jealousy can lead to disastrous results and one’s downfall, through the use of foreshadowing, images, and setting details that appear repeatedly to reinforce the theme. For example, when Maxmillius tells a sad story to his mother, this scene is crucial to the plot as it sets the tone for most of the play.
This later follows up with constant accusations from Leontes, and defense from others who believe Hermione and Polixenes is innocent. This play functions to tell modern day society that one must be able to accept their faults and make changes for the better.
Courtney from Study Moose
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