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The Winter’s Tale Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #7

Go, play, boy, play: thy mother plays, and I
Play too, but so disgraced a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour
Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play. (1.2.18)

Leontes says that while he plays and horses around with his young son, Hermione “plays” around on him, Leontes, with another man. By this point in the play, Leontes has convinced himself that that Hermione is cheating on him and he decides to pretend not to know about the alleged affair, for the time being. What’s interesting is that Leontes's repetitious pun on the word “play” draws attention to the way he sees himself as a kind of actor who plays a “disgraced” role before an audience that boos and “hiss[es]” at him while his wife behaves in a deceitful manner. This reminds the audience that Leontes is actually a character, being played by a real actor on Shakespeare’s stage.

Quote #8

I see the play so lies
That I must bear a part. (4.4.22)

Here, Perdita gives in to Camillo’s plan to disguise Perdita and Florizel so the young couple can escape to Sicily. When Perdita says she must play her “part” in Camillo’s little scheme, she draws out attention to how Camillo is also playing the role of a stage director.

Quote #9

Why, be so still; here's nobody will steal that from
thee: yet for the outside of thy poverty we must
make an exchange; therefore discase thee instantly,
--thou must think there's a necessity in't,--and
change garments with this gentleman: though the
pennyworth on his side be the worst, yet hold thee,
there's some boot. (4.4.24)

In the last passage, we pointed out how Camillo seems to resemble a theater director when he orchestrates Florizel and Perdita’s escape from Bohemia. Here, he continues to “direct” as he orders Autolycus to exchange clothes with the prince. This isn’t Autolycus’s first costume change – we’ve already seen him disguised as a robbery victim and a peddler. A few lines from now, we’ll watch him deceive the Old Shepherd and the Clown by pretending to be a nobleman.

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