The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0316 Monday, 26 July 2010
Date: July 23, 2010 2:26:05 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0283 Hermione?
Comment: Re: SHK 21.0283 Hermione?
Although it is true that Hermione does not speak to Leontes, the words Shakespeare
gives to the other characters indicate a mutual reconciliation. Paulina tells
Leontes to take Hermione's offered hand, Polixenes says "she embraces him" and
Camillo agrees saying "she hangs about his neck." I suppose it would be possible for
the play to be produced where all these statements are sarcastic, and not actually
reflecting Hermione's actions, but that seems to be fighting the text.
Furthermore, one of the reasons the end of Winters Tale is so striking is that
unlike Pericles we don't get two scenes of reconciliation, (overkill to my taste, I
get all emotionally involved in Pericles' reunion with his daughter and when he gets
back together with his wife, I think, "oh yeah, her too.") In Winter's Tale, the
first reunion and forgiveness happens offstage, and the lords of the court tell the
audience of the wonder of it, so that the one grand miracle on stage is Hermione's
statue come to life. How strange to have so much build up to the reconciliation and
then have it be only a half hearted one. Leontes still rejected, only Perdita
received into her mother's arms?
The beauty of the play is its grace. Hermione talks again and again about grace,
about people getting what they could never deserve. It would be a shame to throw out
that grace to let Hermione "get even" with Leontes.
Mary Baldwin College
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