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Read the following extract from Act I Scene II of the play. How do the ideas and language of these speeches help to create the effect of Leontes' jealousy?

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Introduction

The Winter's Tale - William Shakespeare Read the following extract from Act I Scene II of the play. How do the ideas and language of these speeches help to create the effect of Leontes' jealousy? The scene is set in Leontes' palace, Polixenes is ready to leave the country after his nine-month visit, and he thanks Leontes for his hospitality. Leontes wants him to stay a week longer, but Polixenes explains that he must return the very next day in order to take care of affairs of state in Bohemia. Leontes insists that he must stay; "I'll no gainsaying", but Polixenes will not be persuaded. Leontes then tells his wife and queen, Hermione, to talk Polixenes into staying. Speaking with Polixenes out of Leontes' hearing, she soon overcomes Polixenes' objections and he agrees to stay a week longer. Hermione then gets him to talk about his friendship with Leontes when they were both young. When Hermione tells Leontes that Polixenes has agreed to stay, Leontes comments that Polixenes did for Hermione what he would not do at Leontes' own request. He tells her that she has never spoken to better purpose since the day she agreed to marry him. ...read more.

Middle

His nature of derogatory speech towards his wife is one that is unexpected and unnecessary; he insults Hermione frequently referring to her as a "hobby horse" a prostitute and that she is "As rank as any flax-wench that puts to/Before her troth-plight" he is referring to Hermione here as a very common woman, who has experiences with men before marriage. Leontes's language becomes increasingly puerile referring to his wife as a "gross lout" and "mindless slave". He orders Camillo to poison Polixenes: "Were my wife's liver/Infected as her life, she would not live/The running of one glass." Camillo, realising that Leontes will not "be cured" of his "diseased opinion", agrees to "fetch off" Polixenes on the condition that Leontes spares Hermione as he feels she is innocent, blameless and is seen in the King's eyes as above suspicion. Leontes then departs promising to "seem friendly". Camillo shares his predicament with the audience. Either he must disobey a King or murder one. He concludes that his task is clear and he must "forsake the court". Coincidentally Polixenes enters and mentions to Camillo how he has noticed a change in Leontes behaviour to him. ...read more.

Conclusion

In comparison a Jacobean audience of the time, would regard this as a sudden in stability of the mind that would quickly resolve itself. The reaction would be calmer and less shocking than that of a modern viewer. Leontes attitude to women is unconstructive, derogative and cynical. He feels superior to women which was characteristic of the time. In Jacobean times, women were allowed only limited freedom. Women were seen to be inferior to men, at the time this sort of behaviour from Leontes was acceptable, and women were placed under great suspicion in Jacobean times. They were expected to obey men, in a royal court women were used politically, this is reflected in the way that Hermione is used by Leontes to persuade Polixenes to stay. In contrast a modern audience would have a more equal and balanced view of women. To conclude, jealousy is evident in Leontes due to Shakespeare's use of language, the way in which Leontes is almost talking to himself, it self absorbed speech, he reveals his own envy in intense feelings. His speech patterns are often fragmented this is also clear evidence of his bitterness. Shakespeare presents Leontes's jealousy as peculiarly his own and as that kind of self-inflicted lunacy to which everyone can fall victim. ?? ?? ?? ?? - 1 - ...read more.

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