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The painful moment when Polixenes forbids his son's marriage shows that although Bohemia is a healing place it is not a paradise. What is your response to Shakespeare's presentation of Bohemia in the design of the play as a whole?

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Introduction

The painful moment when Polixenes forbids his son's marriage shows that although Bohemia is a healing place it is not a paradise. What is your response to Shakespeare's presentation of Bohemia in the design of the play as a whole? Base your answer on a detailed examination of two or more sequences from the play. It is evident that a magnificent change takes place between the two settings of "The Winter's Tale", the fraught court of Sicilia and the rural landscape of Bohemia. The end of Act III, even before the entrance of Time in Act IV, marks the play's shift in mood. The scene on the seacoast of Bohemia begins darkly, with the abandonment of Perdita, followed by Antigonus's death at the paws of a ferocious bear. But the sudden appearance of the Shepherd and his son, with their comic dialogue and their discovery of the baby provides the first hint that this may not be a tragedy after all--indeed, it may be instead a classic fairy tale, complete with a lost princess raised in ignorance of her heritage. We are plunged immediately into a world that is completely different from the wintertime Sicilia of the earlier action. ...read more.

Middle

This is an example of how love has been able to blossom between the two as Florizel clearly has very different views to Leontes on the importance and equality of women. Perdita has been compared by critics to Proserpina (goddess of spring) in that she, too, brings the spring, she is crowned with flowers, and dispenses them to all the guests, and the audience feels that this "winter's tale" has broken out into spring colour, and it is all due to her arrival. The flowers occasion a debate between Polixenes and Perdita over the value of interbreeding flowers--he argues that a gardener can legitimately "mend nature--change it rather", while she prefers a purer nature, unsullied by human hands. The scene is ironic, however, for Polixenes argues for something in flowers--"you see, sweet maid, we marry / A gentler scion to the wildest stock" that he opposes in his son's case, namely, the mixing of royal and common blood. The Bohemian king forfeits our sympathies almost completely in this scene, for while we may sympathize with his anger at his son, nothing can justify the absurd heights of his cruelty towards the worthy Shepherd and the wonderful Perdita. Here we see Polixenes running parallel to the erratic behaviour of his once best friend. ...read more.

Conclusion

I hold it the more knavery to conceal it, and therein I am constant to my profession". This deliberate evil lacks their capacity for harm. None of his crimes have dire consequences, and his "knavery" actually ends up doing everyone a great deal of good, leaving the audience free to delight in his "constancy," and in his bamboozling of the poor Shepherd and his son, whom he terrifies with promises of the king's vengeance: "He has a son, who shall be flayed alive; then 'nointed over with honey, set on the head of a wasp's nest; then stand till he be three quarters and a dram dead; then recovered again...(and) set against a brick wall, the sun looking with a southward eye upon him, where he is to behold him with flies blown to death". In conclusion, Bohemia indeed provides comic relief for the audience and can definitely be considered as a 'healing place.' Although we do encounter tragedy in a sense with the forbidding of Florizel and Perditas' marriage, there is always a comic interlude to lift the tension and make things appear rather humorous as opposed to menacing and this is thanks to characters like the Clown and Autolycus. The contrast of Bohemia simply compliments Shakespeare's' tragic-comedy, theses scenes are awash with singing, dancing love and happiness, Sicilia on the other hand being fraught with despair, jealousy and death. Harriet Walker ...read more.

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