| Quote #7
My second joy
A defiant and eloquent Hermione explains why death wouldn’t be the worst punishment Leontes could hand out. Not only has Mammilius (the “firs-fruits of [her] body”) been stripped away from her, but her newborn infant has also been torn from her “breast” while breastfeeding. Not only that, but Hermione was denied the “child-bed privilege,” a period of time in which new mothers are supposed to be given total privacy and bed rest. (This was a huge deal in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England.) In other words, Hermione has experienced a living hell and there’s nothing Leontes could do to make her suffer more. Or so she thinks. Keep reading…
| Quote #8
Remember when we said Hermione thought things couldn’t possibly get worse for her? Here, a servant enters the courtroom with news that Mammilius has died (ostensibly from grief over the way Leontes is treating his mother). Soon after, we’re told that Hermione has died of a broken heart (3.2.3) and Leontes spends the next sixteen years of his life repenting for the suffering he’s caused.
| Quote #9
Let me be punish'd, that have minded you
Even after Leontes repents for causing the death of his wife and son, it seems like Paulina goes out of her way to constantly remind Leontes of what he’s done. After a lord chastises her for reminding Leontes that Hermione is dead, Paulina says something like “Oh gosh! I’m so sorry. Please forgive me for being such a foolish and big-mouthed woman. I didn’t mean to remind you that you basically killed your wife and both your kids.” Is she serious? We don’t think so. Paulina’s mock apology seems like another excuse to torture Leontes by reminding him, again, that he’s caused the deaths of his family members and her own husband.