A-Z Shakespeare: The Winter’s Tale

“I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful;
In every one of these no man is free.”

William Shakespeare

Awesomeness: 3/10

Because… it’s actually quite boring. And would never actually happen. Not even in a fantastical, Tempest-type way. It would just never happen.

Colour: Blue

Date: 1610/11

Events: King Leontes is convinced that wife Hermione has been unfaithful with his best friend King Polixenes. He plots to murder Polixenes, who escapes with the help of good guy Camillo. Leontes’ accusation distresses son Mamillius so much that he dies, causing Hermione to die also, of grief, apparently, but not before her daughter Perdita is abandoned in Polixenes’ land (’cause Leontes thinks it belongs to Polixines). Sixteen years later, Perdita falls in love with Polixenes’ son, they return to Leontes’ land, are reunited with their respective families, Hermione’s statue comes alive, everyone lives Happily Ever After. The End.

First line: “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.” Snappy.

Genre: Gods, I don’t know. The Complete Oxford Shakespeare says it is a comedy, so I’ll go with that.

High point: The shepherds’ masque in Act Four.

Interesting fact: Features the oddly incongruous, and famous, stage direction “Exit pursued by a bear”.

Joke: “I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.” “Ay, and have been so any time these four hours.”

Killed: Mamillius and Hermione, by Grief; Leontes’ adviser Antigonus, by aforesaid bear; some random sailors, by a sea-storm.

Laughed at: Autolycus, thief and rogue, and Shakespeare’s most ineffective villain.

Musical: Yes: Autolycus sells bad ballads to some unsuspecting peasants, and there are some shepherds’ dances.

Number of scenes: 15, spread over five acts.

Obscurity: 7/10

Place: Sicily and Bohemia, wherever that is. Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge, claims it is part of the Czech Republic.

Quote: “Innocence shall make false accusation blush, and tyranny tremble at patience.”

Role I’d play: Paulina, wife of Antigonus, who gets to shout at Leontes whenever he’s being unreasonable, which is most of the time.

Stolen from Robert Greene’s prose romance Pandosto: The Triumph of Time.

Time: Around Shakespeare’s time, as far as I can tell.


Voiced in my head by: Andrew Scott, for Autolycus.

Would I see it in a theatre? Probably not.

X: The Tenth Line: “Beseech you – “

“Yes? Hello? What?” (The Snappy Quip): “Our praises are our wages.”

Z: The Last Line: “We were dissevered. Hastily lead away.”


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