On today’s episode of The Literary Life, we wrap up our discussion of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale with a look at Act 5. Our hosts, Angelina Stanford, Cindy Rollins and Thomas Banks also announce our next book to read together, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Angelina notes that Act 5 is all about reconciliation and redemption. Thomas points out that Shakespeare had a challenge here in how to bring this play to a close with all those relationships resolved. Cindy brings up Paulina’s character and the significance of her name.
Our hosts discuss the truth that though in an ultimate sense all will be made right, this play reminds us that in this life, there are some things that are not fully redeemed. They also talk about how Shakespeare plays with both the audience’s expectations and with the form in this act. Leontes’ imagination is also in need of redemption, and we see that happen here at the end of the play. Thomas makes the connection between the myth of Pygmalion, Euripedes’ Alcestis and A Winter’s Tale.
The theme of resurrection is so prevalent in this final act, particularly in the case of Hermoine, but also in other characters and plot points. The winter is over, and spring has come to Sicily. The old order is not restored. A new order has been brought into being.
We are excited to announce a new online conference coming on March 13-14, 2020. Our theme will be Re-enchanting the World: The Legacy of the Inklings. Our keynote speaker is Inklings scholar, Joseph Pearce. Go to Angelina and Thomas’ new website HouseofHumaneLetters.com for all the info and to register.
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An ancient rhetorician delivered a caution against dwelling too long on the excitation of pity; for nothing, he said, dries so soon as tears; and Shakespeare acted conformably to this ingenious maxim, without knowing it.William Hazlitt
A work of art is a world unto itself, but all works of art belong to one world.Harold Goddard
In all narration there is only one way to be clever, and that is to be exact.Robert Louis Stevenson
Hermione in the House of Paulina
by C. S. Lewis
How soft it rains, how nourishingly soft and green
Has grown the dark humility of this low house
Where sunrise never enters, where I have not seen
The moon by night nor heard the footfall of a mouse,
Nor looked on any face but yours
Nor changed my posture in my place of rest
For fifteen years–oh how this quiet cures
My pain and sucks the burning from my breast.
It sucked out all the poison of my will and drew
All hot rebellion from me, all desire to break
The silence you commanded me. . . . Nothing to do,
Nothing to fear or wish for, not a choice to make,
Only to be; to hear no more Cock-crowing duty calling me to rise,
But slowly thus to ripen laid in store
In this dim nursery near your watching eyes.
Pardon, great spirit, whose tall shape like a golden tower
Stands over me or seems upon slow wings to move,
Coloring with life my paleness, with returning power,
By sober ministrations of severest love;
Pardon, that when you brought me here,
Still drowned in bitter passion, drugged with life,
I did not know . . . pardon, I thought you were
Paulina, old Antigonus’ young wife.
Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays by William Hazlitt
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Poems by C. S. Lewis
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