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

Although ‘The Winters Tale’ seems to challenge contemporary attitudes towards women, in the final analysis it affirms them, do you agree?

Extracts from this document...


English Literature Coursework Question: - Although 'The Winters Tale' seems to challenge contemporary attitudes towards women, in the final analysis it affirms them, do you agree? In 'The Winters Tale' there is arguments for both sides of this statement. The play starts off with Leontes watching his wife, Hermione, and his best friend Polixenes talking to each other, he seems to think they are flirting and becomes jealous. He even worries that he is not the real father of his son Mamiillius. He says "Why that's my bawcock. What! Hast smutched thy nose? Leontes sees Hermione some how as his possession. At the time when this play was being written women did not have very many rights. This is shown by a quote which explains how suspected witches were treated, this treatment was inhumane and shows the lack of women's rights "Having taken the suspected Witch, she is placed in the middle of a room upon a stool, or table, cross-legged, or in some other uneasy posture, to which if she submits not, she is then bound with cords; there she is watched and kept without meat or sleep for the space of 24 hours. . . A little hole is likewise made in the door for the imps to come in at; they that watch are taught to be ever and anon sweeping the room, and if they see any spiders or flies, to kill them, then they may be sure they are her imps." ...read more.


This point in the play marks the entrance of the strongest female character of the play in Paulina. Paullina takes Hermione away and then comes back with the news that she is dead. When Paulina starts to shout at Leontes about the way in which he treated Hermione she is quickly accused of sexual infidelity because of her outburst. Leonties ridicules Antigonus Paulina's husband about her outburst and tells him to keep her quite, it is as if Leontes thinks that that Antigonus owns Paulina and can control her, as Leontes soon finds out it is not easy to control Paulina. After this incident in the play Paulina seems to be able to control Leontes in every thing he does, this would have been very unusual at the time when this play was written. Paulina seems to have a lot of control over Leontes she uses this power to manipulate him and make him do what she wants. Although what Leonties did was wrong the way in which Paulina is using Leontes guilt to manipulate him is not very moral, this explains why modern audiences may not have much sympathy for Paulina. At this time it was not unusual for people to remarry after the death of a partner, in fact it was very common, this was because of the low life expectancy. So the normal thing for Leontes to do would have been to remarry, but because of Paullina's constant reminder of Hermione he cannot do this. ...read more.


However this is probably the view that a modern audience would take. In the end Leontes gets his wife back and also his daughter. Although he was very unhappy during the time Hermione was dead he will now be happy. However Paulina who seemed to be in control of Leontes now has nothing to manipulate him with. Her husband Antigionus is dead and she has not remarried either. This is were Leontes takes over again as the strongest character in the play. He pairs Paulina off with his servant Camillo. He doesn't even ask her. At the time when the play was written this would no have been socially acceptable, however it could happen and would not have surprised a Shakespearean audience that much. It would have been like a strange movie plot in today's terms, and could be believed but a modern audience would find it very hard to believe. In conclusion there is a lot of ideas in the play, which show the opinions of women at the time which this book was written. At the start the man is in charge, this is how it would have been in Shakespeare's time. However in the middle a women seems in charge this would not have been the case in the 17th century, but in the end it is Leonties who is in control and ends up with the best outcome, I agree with the title that the winters tale confirms contemporary attitudes towards women in the 17th century. By Neil Whiteside. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Winters 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 GCSE The Winters Tale essays

  1. How does Shakespeare present relationships between men and women in The Winter's Tale, ...

    lord, best know / Whom least will seem to do so, my past life / Hath been continent, as chaste, as true / As I am now unhappy." The staging of the 'flirting' scene between Hermione and Polixenes is important to understand Leontes' degree of madness, and Hermione's degree of misbehaviour.

  2. How are women represented in "The Winter's Tale"? How might a modern audience react ...

    Female Patience is a concept that women will allow themselves to suffer in order to please their husbands. For example, 'patient Griselda' from the Clerk's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer shows this virtue. Hermione is portrayed as being a forgiving, obedient lady who will forever remain loyal to Leontes, similarly to Griselda.

  1. It has been said that in "The Winter's Tale" Shakespeare dramatises the contemporary struggle ...

    Paulina not only criticises the system but also provides alternatives and takes concrete action, aiming for justice and redemption. She uses the dramatic device of placing the King's baby daughter in front of him; "hath bought you forth a daughter; / Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing."

  2. Explore the role of women in 'The Winters Tale'

    She gives him her undivided attention. When Hermione is being accused of adultery by Leontes, we see her strong and self-reliant character. "I am not prone to weeping, as our sex commonly are" This is not typical behaviour for a woman of this time. This strength is shown, when she tells her "women" not to cry for her because there is "no cause".

  1. How does Shakespeare present relationships between men and women in The Winter's Tale and ...

    Modern audiences may see the resurrection of Hermione as either of these. Shakespeare's contemporaries would probably have seen Leontes' torment as a fitting punishment for his jealousy and misguided retribution as he is witnessed plotting to have Polixenes murdered. Both modern and Shakespearian audiences would have commended Hermione's faith and

  2. review for "the winters tale "

    even when the family was around even the smallest movement or touch, for example; playing with each others feet, made audience feel a sense of romance. Although I felt the strongest theme throughout the play was the tragedy, which continued throughout the whole play, from start to finish, whereas the

  1. What contribution does Paulina make to the concerns and effects of The Winter's Tale?

    She is presented as the holder of great magical forces but not in the usual negative portrayal like witches of the time Shakespeare uses the character of Paulina to comment on the importance of courage and faithfulness.

  2. Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale

    In the following scene, Paulina displays that she is not only willing to defend her friend among servants, but is also willing to carry out her plans among elite men. Upon entering the king's chambers, Paulina addresses the lords sarcastically: "Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me.

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