The Winter’s Tale: Country into Court
Within the starkly-distinguished antitheses of pastoral convention, the Sicilian court is represented as the scene of suspicion, mistrust, surveillance, conspiracy, injustice, and tyranny; while the Arcadian simplicity of rural Bohemia reveals a society of freedom, openness, community and love. The two antagonistic stage-worlds of the play revolve around the polar axis of the famous sixteen-year gap, with its fill-in Chorus from a personified Time, and throw off a series of ancillary and subordinate oppositions: art versus nature; class-division against communal solidarity; tragedy confronted by comedy. As always in pastoral discourse the locus amoenus of the bucolic paradise provides a constant point of reference by which the constraints, inhibitions, corruptions and injustices of the court society may be measured.
The Winter’s Tale has hatred in the first part and love, where there was hatred, in the last … Not only does the middle part stir the mind and heart of itself, but by the contrast of its beauty, love, youth, confidence, happiness, country life, and venial roguery, it intensifies the dramatic effect of the ugliness, the oppressive adult madness, hatred and murderous crime at court in the first part.31
KeywordsMale Ideology Pastoral Convention Pastoral Discourse Courtly Love Courtly Manner
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