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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 #10

such a deal of wonder is
broken out within this hour that ballad-makers
cannot be able to express it.
Here comes the Lady Paulina's steward: he can
deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? this news
which is called true is so like an old tale, that
the verity of it is in strong suspicion: has the king
found his heir? (5.2.1)

The Second Gentleman’s description of the fantastical unfolding of events that led up to Perdita’s reunion with her father draws our attention to the implausibility of Shakespeare’s story. There’s so much “wonder” in it that even “ballad-makers” (writers who composed ballads out of news stories) would have a hard time conveying the details of how Leontes's “found his heir.” The whole thing sounds more like an “old” winter’s tale, which is a great story but one that doesn’t have much credit. Here, it seems that Shakespeare is acknowledging the implausibility of his own play/work of art.

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