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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Camillo and Paulina
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1420  Friday, 8 June 2001

[1]     From:   Rita Lamb <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Jun 2001 22:29:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 07 Jun 2001 16:05:12 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Pauli

[3]     From:   Richard Regan <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Jun 2001 00:18:45 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rita Lamb <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Jun 2001 22:29:29 +0100
Subject: 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina

I don't know how Leontes' action would appear in the real world, but in
the half-fairytale world of this play, it makes good sense to me.

For most of the unseen years of Hermione's 'death' Paulina has been
leading a vital double life.  She has been preserving Hermione, while
attending on Leontes like a genteel fury, the living embodiment of his
guilty conscience.  Once the royal reunion happens however she's
completely unemployed.  Moreover she is now not the wife of a missing
lord but an acknowledged widow.  I imagine at this point a contemporary
audience would picture her retiring from court and living the sort of
pious existence the old Countess Rousillon has in AWTEW. This wouldn't
do for Paulina, who needs to be active.

So if I had been a woman in that audience, I'd have thought it a poor
return for all Paulina had done if she was shipped off to some early
retirement home.  She's not above fifty, surely.  A nice new husband and
a leading role at court is a much better reward, and a totally
satisfying ending.

Leontes says he partly knows how Camillo feels. I'm happy to believe
him.  I quite willingly imagine all sorts of tentative remarks and
significant glances offstage, prompting the king into making his happy
pronouncement.  Anyway, Leontes must know Paulina pretty well by now,
surely, and she has just (wistfully IMO) announced that there's nothing
for her to do now they've all found each other but be an old solitary
dove and mourn her dead husband till she drops off the perch herself.
What should the king reply to that?
'Yes.  When are you leaving?'

I think Leontes comes up with the only feel good solution.

Rita Lamb

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Jun 2001 16:05:12 -0700
Subject: 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina

>The answer, I believe, is "No." [Is that "cynical" enough for you, Mike?]
>
>--Ed Taft

More than enough, Edmund.  Being a wide eyed dreamer, and a sucker for a
love story, especially if the lovers have to overcome themselves to
embrace love, I have another line through this scene.  Leontes is in
restitution overdrive.  He has grappled with his guilt for what he did
to his wife, and again embraces her in love.  That done, he now has an
opportunity to make restitution for depriving Paulina of her husband,
and does so.

As a playwright for The King's Men, if the King ever figured out what
Shakespeare was up to, assuming your scenario is correct, the company
could soon be looking for a new patron.  Not a great idea.

Is that naive enough for you, Ed?

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Jun 2001 00:18:45 EDT
Subject: 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1401 Re: Camillo and Paulina

I agree with Professor Taft on the final moments of The Winter's Tale.
His insights seem just right for Shakespeare's conception of the trials
of Leontes.

At the risk of seeming frivolous next to HIS ideas, I suggest also that
Shakespeare is still trying to balance elements of tragedy and comedy in
the final scene. The stretched language of Act 5 evokes almost a
desperation to pull off this most challenging form of tragicomedy, and
what better way to end it than with another marriage?

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

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