Parisian Literary Salon

creating community through reading and discussing literature

The Winter’s Tale

- by William Shakespeare (3 week study)

We were, fair Queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day tomorrow as today,
And to be boy eternal.
  ( 1.2.63-66)

The Winter’s Tale was written late in Shakespeare’s career. Critics have always been divided on how to respond to the play. The anxiety to find appropriate genre taxonomy for the play has lead to the creation of the romance for those plays which do not follow the recognizable lines of genre convention common to Shakespeare’s canon: history, tragedy, and comedy. The Winter’s Tale  does not settle into a tragic tone, a comic tone nor even ultimately a romance; although aspects of all of these are imbedded in this piece of divergent impulses. Though the major human questions that Shakespeare has addressed throughout the plays: loyalty and treason, jealousy, human responsibility (both in governance and intimate relationships) fate fighting will, innocence and temptations and the drive forward of time are all engaged here, the resolutions are less obvious- and more interesting for that.  The quote contains both the nostalgia for a lost innocence and an Edenic world just out of reach; can this bliss be recaptured in the adult world? What can we believe in once we have recognized the disguises and manipulations of those we once believed in?  Come into the Winter’s Tale and we will find what the art reveals.