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The Winter's Tale (1623)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,197552,304 (3.67)193
This 1611 tragicomedy begins with the tyrannical actions of a jealous king and concludes with romance and reconciliation.
  1. 10
    Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare (Voracious_Reader)
    Voracious_Reader: Both The Winter's Tale and Pericles use a chorus to advance the play's action.

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English (52)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (55)
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The plot was based on a work of prose fiction called Pandosto (1588) by Robert Greene. The play opens with Leontes, the king of Sicilia, entertaining his old friend Polixenes, the king of Bohemia. Leontes jealously mistakes the courtesy between his wife, Hermione, and Polixenes as a sign of Hermione’s adultery with him. In a fit of jealousy, he attempts to have Polixenes killed, but Polixenes escapes with Camillo, Leontes’ faithful counselor, whom Leontes has sent to kill him. The pregnant Hermione is then publicly humiliated and thrown in jail, despite her protests of innocence. When the child, a girl, is born, Leontes rejects the child out of hand and gives her over to Antigonus, the husband of Hermione’s attendant Paulina. Antigonus is instructed to abandon the baby in some wild place. Having learned of his mother’s mistreatment, Leontes’ beloved son Mamillius dies, and Hermione too is carried out and reported dead. Having lost everyone important to him and having realized the error of his ways, Leontes is left to his solitary despair. Meanwhile, the baby girl, named Perdita, is brought up by a shepherd and his wife in Polixenes’ kingdom of Bohemia. She appears in Act IV as a young and beautiful shepherdess who has been discovered by Polixenes’ son Florizel. Needless to say, her true status is eventually discovered once she and Florizel have arrived at Leontes’ court in Sicilia. In a climactic ending, Hermione is discovered to be alive after all. She had been sequestered by Paulina for some 16 years until the time for reunion and reconciliation arrived. Leontes is shown a seeming statue of Hermione, so lifelike that one might imagine it breathes. The “statue” comes to life, and Hermione is seen to have aged during her years of separation and waiting. Leontes, to his intense joy, realizes that he loves his wife more than ever. The recovery of the daughter he attempted to kill is no less precious to him. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Jan 18, 2022 |
Leontes deserved worse than a happy ending. This is not how you treat your wife, sir.
Paulina was great though. ( )
  _Marcia_94_ | Sep 21, 2021 |
Interestingly, despite being a rather conflicting mix of tragedy, humour, and romance, with a usual heapin' helpin' of coincidence, this one works better than the past two or three I've pounded through, but enjoyed very little.

But seriously, what kind of king can afford to hang with his BFF for almost a year?

Overall, one I consider a touch more slight than his better known plays, but I had to laugh at the unexpected bawdiness of the mention of dildos, orgasms, and the "jump her and thump her" lines. Shakespeare, you old dog! ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.
( )
  drbrand | Jun 16, 2021 |
Shakespeare: Hmm. "Content. 'Tis strange"... In fact, don't care much at all for it (hence all the histories I just retold, the plays I plagiarized from others). Honestly, I'm just bored by form– all tragedies and comedies have the same predictable stories.
Oh, I've got it: I'll write a play that begins as a tragedy–let's set it in winter because "a sad tale's best for winter" (2.1.25)– but halfway through, I'll come out on stage dressed up as Time, holding an hourglass, and re-do the whole play. I'll ask the audience to bear with me (mmm, yes, that's a good word, "bear"... I'll play a lot with that one, maybe even have a guy get chased offstage by a bear).
Antingonus: Arghhghhhh
Shakespeare (unbothered): You know, suspend disbelief like you're supposed to do in theater (I mean, who even cares that Bohemia's not really on the coast– anything is fair game in theater, right?). Right, so I'll come out and ask everyone to bear with me (smirk) while I speed up time: "to th' freshest things now reigning" (ha, that's good, "raining," get it? We're moving into spring rains, fertility, rebirth, etc) "and make stale/ The glistering of this present, as my tale/ Now seems to it."
Okay, so as we move into summer, my winter's tale will become "stale"/old news in the warmer weather.

Oh yeah, and let's make the "winter tragedy" be about a king who wrongly accuses his wife of being a whore, since "stale" is also slang for whore, and I like a good pun, you know? "The Winter's Stale?" Get it? Ha ha.
He'll kill her and his son (who he thinks is someone else's love child), banish his newborn daughter, but everything will be fine in the end-- a statue of the kings wife will be SO realistic that it comes to life. Ugh, and theater's so perfect for this too. Only actors can make representations of living people physically breathe. My art's way better than those stupid gilded monuments, since my characters are always coming to life again on stage. So in this play, everyone's a winner!

Antigonus and Mamillius: Hey!
Hermione: Hello? I was killed by my husband and then I have to marry him?
Paulina: My husband gets eaten by a bear and then I have to marry some random guy at the end? Psh, happy ending? What century do you live in?

Shakespeare: Ok, well, maybe the little boy stays dead. And Antigonus does get eaten by a bear, but that bear scene is just so good, it's got to stay. (I mean, how quotable are these stage directions: "Exit pursued by a bear"? So quotable.) [To the women] Hey, who's writing this play anyway?

Barthes: Well actually... ( )
  melanierisch | Oct 25, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (244 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andrews, John F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armfield, MaxwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnet, SylvanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bate, JonathanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bjerke, AndréTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braunmuller, Albert RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claus, HugoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farjeon, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, RomaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greene, RobertContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, George B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hudson, Henry N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kermode, FrankEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kittredge, George LymanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LaMar, Virginia A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pafford, J. H. P.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pierce, Frederick E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitcher, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasmussen, EricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schnazer, ErnestEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tonkin, HumphreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wells, Stanley W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.
What's gone and what's past help
Should be past grief.
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Not she that burns in 't.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is for the complete The Winter's Tale only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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This 1611 tragicomedy begins with the tyrannical actions of a jealous king and concludes with romance and reconciliation.

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Average: (3.67)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014071488X, 0141013893


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