Spring-Summer: The Sheep-Shearing Festival
The role of Time as Chorus in iv i has already been discussed (see above, p. 13). He bridges the years between one movement and the next with a subtle emphasis on the timelessness, yet temporal continuity, over which he presides, and he turns the audience’s mind away from the inward-looking, arrested grief of Leontes to the new, expansive characters whom he ‘names’ to them as ‘Florizel’ (a prince of romance, with obvious ‘floral’ overtones) and ‘Perdita’ (‘the lost one’). The work of effecting a transition from ‘winter’ to ‘spring’, however, has already been assisted by the scene at the conclusion of Act iii in which the child is exposed and discovered by the Old Shepherd. There tragedy and comedy meet. Its first half is an extension of the destructive movement, reaching its culmination in the deaths of Antigonus and the sailors, accompanied by storm (a recurrent symbol in Shakespeare for tragic disorder) and the cacophonous din of the bear hunt. In the second half the child is rescued from death; and the contrast with what has preceded is clearly signalled by the words of the Shepherd to his son: ‘Now bless thyself; thou met’st with things dying, I with things new-born’ [iii iii 109–10].
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