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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: July ::
Hermione?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0307  Friday, 23 July 2010

[1]  From:     David Evett <
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     Date:     July 20, 2010 6:22:44 PM EDT
     Subj:     Re: SHK 21.0294  Hermione?

[2]  From:      Evelyn Gajowski <
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     Date:      July 20, 2010 7:49:35 PM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0294  Hermione

[3]  From:      Martin Mueller <
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     Date:      July 20, 2010 11:18:22 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0294  Hermione?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:        David Evett <
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Date:        July 20, 2010 6:22:44 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0294  Hermione?
Comment:     Re: SHK 21.0294  Hermione?

Just in terms of theatrical efficacy, I want to join the "She hangs about 
his neck" crowd, while remembering a memorable production at Stratford, ONT 
(1986?) in which three splendid actors -- Goldie Semple as Hermione, Colm 
Feore as Leontes, and Martha Henry as Paulina -- took that scene with 
mesmerizing slowness, as though every word was being squeezed out in a 
bubble of emotional tension so great that any false note might break it. The 
giant main stage auditorium was full and rapt. When Hermione finally raised 
her hand and then placed her arms around her neck it was like the flowing of 
melted glass, until the two were locked in a long, still, silent embrace, 
only finally broken by the whispered, "She hangs about his neck." The 
fullness of the reunion was that complete and solid. It had been hard earned 
by Feore's anguished repentance, which he spent mostly abased before his 
confessor, Paulina -- and the interspersed joys and frustrations of the 
courtship of Perdita and Florizel in a richly rustic Bohemia, whose own 
union as described in the previous scene and only swiftly acknowledged in 
the whirl of the final minute of this one would have been equally belied by 
an equivocal treatment of her parents' reconciliation. I've seen a dozen 
productions of the play; this one ranks among the two or three most moving 
and satisfying of any of the hundreds of Shakespeare plays I've seen, on any 
stage.

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Evelyn Gajowski <
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Date:         July 20, 2010 7:49:35 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0294  Hermione?
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0294  Hermione?

Dear SHAKSPER members,

I'd like once again to remind members that, in an earlier SHAKSPER 
discussion of this question, Adrian Kiernander described the idea of the 
reconciliation of Hermione and Leontes in the final scene of The Winter's 
Tale as "a heterosexual male fantasy of forgiveness."

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[Editor's Note: I believe the discussion to which Evelyn refers is here 
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2009/0458.html. This is an appropriate time 
to remind subscribers that the SHAKSPER fileserver is the home of the 
archives of twenty-one years of discussions on this list as well as a wealth 
of other information. If you have not visited it lately, you might play with 
the search and browse functions to find something of interest to you. Also, 
There will be a redesigned, modernized site in the future. -Hardy M. Cook]

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Martin Mueller <
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Date:         July 20, 2010 11:18:22 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0294  Hermione?
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0294  Hermione?

I like Dan Venning's observation that any play worth its salt contains 
spaces that need to be filled out differently from one production to 
another, with the text leaving a lot of leeway. 

That said, explicit choices not made tell their own story. Leontes and 
Hermione find each other (sort of) after sixteen years of penance diligently 
supervised by the long-term psychotherapist Paulina -- shades of a story in 
Bandello that Shakespeare had used in Much Ado. They conspicuously do not 
fall into each other's arms, as do Odysseus and Penelope after twenty years. 
There are deep echoes of the Pygmalion story -- the status come alive -- but 
time leaves its marks. The relationship of mother and daughter seems to take 
precedence over that of husband and wife -- a point both accentuated and 
marred in a production many years ago where Judith Dench played both the 
mother and the daughter. You sat there seeing the point of it but worrying a 
little too much about how it was being done. 

The leeway in the text has its limits: Leontes and Hermione living happily 
ever after does not seem to be on the front burner of the author's 
intentions. And that seems in keeping with the title, "A Winter's Tale." In 
Greene's source story, Hermione really dies, and Leontes commits suicide, 
overcome both by remorse about his way of relating both to this wife and his 
daughter. 

It's a little less gloomy in the Winter's Tale. But not as bright as in A 
Midsummer Night's Dream, where it is also the case that a lot of bright 
things come to confusion. 

MM

I'd like to add a ps to my posting. Several people have drawn attention to 
the implicit stage directions in the observations of people around Leontes 
and Hermione. From this one might gather that they are like Odysseus and 
Penelope and do indeed fall into each other's arms after many years. 

On the other hand, the embrace of Odysseus and Penelope is the focus -- one 
might almost say, the telos -- of the entire story, and it is followed by 
some very explicit lines about how they make love and then tell each other 
their stories. Hermione does not address her husband -- in this regard she 
is like the Euripidean Alcestis, who almost certainly hovers in the 
background of this story --. She does address her daughter. 

As for the implicit stage directions about the couple's embrace, one could 
argue that the reunion of husband and wife is beyond words and that we here 
have a sort of ineffability topos. Perhaps. But the dramatist's focus seems 
to be on mother and daughter. Will she say anything? What and to whom? These 
are the questions that the audience is eager to have answered. And they are 
answered when Hermione speaks to her daughter. 



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