• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Act 1 of "The Winter's tale",

Extracts from this document...


"Leontes is no more than a case study in obsessive mania: he is not credible at all." "Leontes' jealousy - despite its rapid onset- is entirely convincing in its power and the horror it creates in the audience." Consider these opinions in relation to Act 1. How far does the text support each of these opinions? In Act 1 of "The Winter's tale", it is evident that Leontes' madness and suspicions over an affair between Polixenes and Hermione are increasing at an extreme pace. However, this essay will seek to analyse whether or not the, perhaps, overly paranoid nature of this is realistic in the impact it has on the audience. There are clear examples, that in the opening lines of Act 1 Scene 2, there is a very close bond between the two kings, Leontes and Polixenes. As they've been friends since childhood, this is to be expected and Leontes is keen for his friend to stay with him a while longer. "Stay your thanks a while And pay them when you part." The fact that there are shared lines between the pair of them emphasises this closeness. They are extremely close and so this makes the events that occur later in the scene baffling to the audience, because of this early closeness. Arguably however, closeness is not being shown at all in this early encounter, and it can be likened to the first scene of the play where Camillo is engaging with Archidamus. ...read more.


However the conclusions he comes to are ridiculous. ""mingling bloods" He is implying that Hermione's blood has been mingling with Polixenes' and so she is bearing his child. The audience will definitely see this as madness: it is unlikely that they have had an affair, but to come to this is overly paranoid. Leontes proceeds to say "Th' mort o'th'deer". This however, has double meaning: firstly it can mean that he wants to kill Polixenes. The alternative meaning to mort though is orgasm, which is obviously more implication that Polixenes and Hermione have been having an affair. The disturbance in Leontes' mind is shown by poor punctuation, and changes in vocabulary and speech rhythms. Initially there was a small part of the audiences mind which may well have thought that Leontes was being very intuitive and spotting something that nobody else had seen. However as his speech breaks down like this, it's obvious that he is unable to thing properly, and the audience becomes increasingly aware of the paranoia which is driving him to conclusions which are incorrect. For example twice in quick succession he questions whether or not Mamillius is actually his son, even though he is now seven years old. "Art thou my boy?" line 120 "Art thou my calf?" line 126 His thought processes appear to be drifting all over the place, and there is the repeated image of the cuckold. ...read more.


Leontes proceeds to list lots of things that have happened which show that he is obviously not making something out of nothing, including "kissing with inside lip" - he has not actually seen this at all though, he is clearly mad to the audience. Debatably, it could be said that obviously if you're certain people have had an affair, you don't need to have seen it - you know what they have done, meaning that this could be realistic, and compared to any sane person who's partner has had an affair. Leontes is so desperate for Camillo to endorse his theory, that he is incensed when Camillo refuses to accept it. "I say thou liest" he says. At this point, Leontes is obviously beyond reason. No longer satisfied with Camillo, he pushes aside the fact that he's unwilling to believe him and instructs Camillo to kill Polixenes. "To give mine enemy a lasting wink" Camillo, obviously disobeys this because it is clear Leontes is not in his right mind, and so the audience will tend to follow this opinion. In conclusion therefore, there are elements of realism to Leontes' suspicions of Polixenes and Hermione initially, as the close contact between the two of them makes Leontes see things which aren't actually there. However, this rapidly spirals out of control into pure paranoia, meaning that the audience see Leontes for exactly what he is - a paranoid man who is clearly mad. ?? ?? ?? ?? Patrick Stevenson HU ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Winter's Tale section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Winter's Tale essays

  1. How do relationships succeed or fail in the Winter's Tale?

    We cannot know if Paulina and Antigonus married for love, as a large proportion of marriages were, in those times political particularly for lords and ladies of the court. Love, may follow later but in terms of Jacobean realism it would be realistic that neither the husband nor wife loved each other.

  2. "The Winter's Tale:" 'The Madness of Leontes appears with terrifying speed and threatens to ...

    he orders that someone 'Bear the boy hence' and take his wife 'to prison,' quite physically tearing mother and son apart. What makes Leontes' act so terrible is the disregard for the emotions of his son whom he supposedly 'so fond' of.

  1. Character Analysis of Queen Hermione

    faint and suspicious death, one would know that Queen Hermione would not allow herself to hate and despise her husband for his irrational thinking and judgment.

  2. Winter's Tale Essay on Reference to the Gods and Fate

    For example Florizel is a Prince dressed as a humble swain, and Perdita is a princess dressed humbly also, however, Perdita is ignorant of her royal background. Shakespeare employs pronominal usage of "I" and "you" in the speeches of both Florizel and Perdita, to further reinforce the fact that they mirror each other.

  1. Read the following extract from Act I Scene II of the play. How do ...

    He is slowly losing his dignity in the court. I believe that a modern audience would think this behaviour is irrational; there is no reason for him to do this. He is disrespectful to Hermione in various mannerisms. Modern audiences may feel this is an act of vindictiveness.

  2. The painful moment when Polixenes forbids his son's marriage shows that although Bohemia is ...

    involving as it does a sort of double betrayal, is not up to his usual standards of highly moral conduct, he is the agent of the happy ending, and so can be forgiven. Besides, the old man's desire to see his homeland again demands the audience's sympathies.

  1. Examine Act 3 Scene 2 and consider its importance in the development of the ...

    It is because of this series of revelations that the audience witnesses a change in Leontes' character. Leontes characteristically begins the court scene with an arrogant speech. Leontes has the full attention of the court and takes advantage of Hermione's absence, therefore the absence of any interruptions.

  2. Some critics have claimed that the structure of "The Winters Tale is clumsy - ...

    All of these time sequences are separated into acts. The first three acts are set in Sicilia they all notify us of Leontes and Polixenes' long friendship with each other. It then spirals out of control due to Leontes' jealousy over Polixenes, the death of Mamillius and the aparent death of Hermione.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work