Stephen Orgel, "Introduction" to The Winter’s Tale (Oxford University Press 1998)

    1. Genre
      1. tragicomedy: the epitome of drama
      2. cf. Frontispiece to works of Ben Jonson
    2. Obscurity and elucidation
      1. Text is often obscure; no solution to be expected
    3. Mysteries of State
      1. James and WT
        1. Monarch’s dogged adherence to absolutism brings him to edge of tragedy
        2. He is restored to power
        3. Oedipal rivalry between Prince Henry and James, Mamillius and Leontes—extravagant expectations
    4. Leontes’ jealousy
      1. Frequent in Sh.; divided loyalities; generational struggle
      2. Wife’s possibility of betrayal—Othello
      3. Way he thinks—evidence produced from within, like Othello, misprision—nothingness and loss
    5. Motivation
      1. Return to childhood and retreat from sexualty
      2. Marriage as continuing state of sin and dangerous condition in sh.
      3. Masculine vs. feminine prerogatives; descent through the female
      4. James as masculine mother; exclusion of women
      5. Play’s ambivalence about Paulina, p.2 [but she’s clearly the hero, and male gynephobia is the problem]
    6. Hermione’s trial
      1. H. confronts her husband with his fantasies—paranoid dubiety: "My life stands in the level of your dreams"
      2. Cultural coordinates; fears about bastardy—James’ fears; Elizabeth called a bastard—Elizabeth’s bastardy, like Perdita’s, was pure creation of the royal will of HVIII
      3. Appeal to oracle acknowledges fallibility of human justice
      4. Connection between Mam’s death and the oracle and the rejection of oracle is not logical, a superstitious connection in L.’s mind. [cf. Edgar and Gloucester]
    7. Mamillius’ death
      1. Limits the restoration at end or stands for loss of childhood, which is recaptured by return of Perdita (Cavell)
      2. Oedipal rivalry between Mam. And Leontes—twin and rival; Prince Henry vs. James
    8. Hermione’s death
      1. Leontes doesn’t believe it or take it seriously and forgets immediately the death of son when he realizes his mistakes
      2. Paulina must goad and punish Leontes for him to take his sins seriously—Orgel claims this absorbs her as part of the king’s conscience—questionable reading 35
        1. Hers is most powerful moral voice, but its absorbed by the king
      3. Is Hermione’s death real or not—Shakespeare playing tricks on the viewer [just as in Lear 4.6]. Paulina and Leontes guarantee her death 3.1.232
        1. This is trickery to enhance the coming to life of the statue for us as well as characters
        2. Sh. Drama does nto create a consistent world
    9. Pastoral
      1. Many varieties of pastoral—not idyllic or just soft and hard
      2. Pastoral is essentially tragicomic
      3. Bear and seacoast of Bohemia are commonplaces
      4. Antigonus’ misinterpretation of vision and being eaten by bear, shows pastoral as unideal [so of course does Autolycus and peasant jealousies]—nature no kinder than civilization—unrestored losses
      5. Bear is pivot from tragedy to comedy
      6. Pastoral is another perspective to consider human issues
      7. Time
        1. From action to narration [e.g. Bible is human history, god’s narration]
        2. Amoral overview (p.41)—breaks theatrical illusion in the middle—cf. Henry V
      8. Nature and Art
        1. P. as courtly
        2. Sheep big business
        3. Intrusion of royalty is appropriate
        4. Perdita’s catalogue—King Dis taking away Prosperpina—mythic undertext
        5. Perdita’s catalogue evokes the rape—dangerous pastoral love affairs
        6. Florizel’s intrusion and calling her Flora suggest story of rape of Chloris [Perdita’s nervousness]—rape produces flowers and poetry p. 45
        7. Intrusion of time in the world vs. Edenic pastoral; cycle of seasons—Spring to the earth
        8. Perdita’s violent rejection of bastardy and the pollution of nature by art, and painting—her innocence and demand for it somewhat misguided—play praises art and nature’s combination elsewhere—and Polixenes’ defense is reversed by his rage at the mixture of royal and common blood.
    10. Marriage Negotiations
      1. Royal marriages—resolve power struggles; James’ pacifism/Catholic marriages
      2. Florizel’s hand is royal property—only works out because Perdita is princess
    11. Autolycus
      1. Lone wolf, love story as rape story in Autolycus’ heritage—lupine nature; lone wolf
      2. Vagabondage, cony catching, fear and entertainment and commodity
      3. Entertainer, playwright
      4. Theft and lying
      5. Ballands are preposterous stories, light on questions of evidence in play; awakening of faith; Winter’s Tale
      6. Quintessential actor and manipulator, most subversive, but he subverts errors
    12. Paulina’s Gallery
      1. Art collection as popular
      2. Artists as philosophers and sages, essential to supporting legitimacy of monarchs
      3. James commissioned life life sculptures of Mary and Elizabeth for Westminster Abbey—memorialize, reconcile and restore
      4. Giulio Romano chosen because Vasari praised him specifically for lifelikeness of his sculptures (56)
    13. The Statue in the Chapel
      1. Dependence on evidence of things not seen—as Mamillius’ death; you must awaken faith
      2. Evidence of both eyes and ears is controverted in this play—story of Perdita’s recognition in 5.2 is only recounted
      3. It is precisely Leontes’ incestuous feelings for Perdita that Paulina redirects toward Hermione—dangers of desire; Perdita threatens mother
      4. Paulina’s magic is not witchcraft as earlier accused but legitimate magic—permitted by King’s fiat
      5. Claims of transcendance
        1. Virtuous magic verging on the miraculous (59)
        2. The chapel
        3. Holy language
        4. Primacy of spirit over letter
        5. Idea of sin and purging
        6. Offending the gods
        7. Salvation throiugh faith; [damnation through loss of faith—what happens so suddenly to Leontes; experiences original sin in 1.2; fall from innocence]
        8. Paulina’s name
        9. Disclaimers of the superstitious—5.3.43, 3.3.39
        10. [Winter’s tale is the Xmas story—salvation by shepherd of the baby—female baby in Tempest and in Revelation.]
        11. Why claims of occult powers by Paulina
          1. Demystified by Hermione who says she’s just been waiting
          2. Magic is indespensable element in all society’s erotic arrangements
          3. Witchcraft associated with bawdry [whore of babylon? Sycorax]
          4. Magic as theatre 61
            1. Greenblatt’s "Shakespeare and the Exorcists"
            2. Many plays about Witches and magic
          5. Interrelationships of art, magic, religion and theatre form a topos for aesthetic experience in the age.
          6. Evocation of wonder; spectacle is essence of drama
          7. Paulina and Prospero’s masque—the discovery curtain
    14. The statue in the Theatre
      1. Increasingly because emotional center of play
    15. What the Statue didn’t say
      1. Attention to Leonte’s suffering, but nothing said about what happened to Hermione during 16 years
      2. Modern interest in restoration of marriage would have been less interesting than restoration of Perdita to Sh’s audience. Long separations of family members were common. [This is lame; why make Leontes’ love the centerpiece?]
      3. Main point is restoration of Leontes’ authority and restoration of daughter and mother