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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
WT - Act V scene 2
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0454  Tuesday, 11 March 2003

From:           Susan St. John <
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Date:           Friday, 07 Mar 2003 20:09:31 -0700
Subject:        WT - Act V scene 2

I am a Drama teacher and I am working on The Winter's Tale with my high
school acting students.  While studying the various themes and plot
points I just threw in a question about Act V, scene 2.  I asked the
students WHY they thought Shakespeare had chosen to have three minor
characters describe the climactic reconciliation of Polixenes and
Leontes, and the discovery of Perdita's true identity, rather than show
the scene taking place.

After I asked, I realized I had never really heard anyone discuss this
issue, other than to comment that it was "odd."  I surmise that it has
something to do with the audience believing as fact what another
character reports so convincingly, but might disbelieve the sincerity of
the reconciliation if they saw it happen.

One of my students thought maybe Shakespeare didn't want his play to be
too long and figured that playing the scene out would take longer than
telling it in a third person narrative.

I saw WT in Stratford last summer and could have SWORN that I saw the
scene happen!  Did they actually stage it or was the description so
vivid that I am remembering seeing something I never actually saw??
Could THAT have been WS's intent?

Any theories from the list?  I'd be interested in your opinions or
things you've read on this topic; or point me toward some theorists'
work that I could read on my own.  I would like to share some other
ideas with my students.

Thanks in advance,
Susan St. John

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