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The Winter’s Tale Time Quotes

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

Quote #7

Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,
The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving
That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia, and remember well,
I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
I list not prophecy; but let Time's news
Be known when 'tis brought forth.
A shepherd's daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never, yet that Time himself doth say
He wishes earnestly you never may. (4.1.1)

There’s a lot going on in this passage (more than we can possibly cover here), but here’s something we think is pretty important. Addressing the audience, Time goes out of his way to remind us that we are “spectators” watching (or reading) the progression of the “play,” an activity that basically allows us to pass the time (so to speak) in a pleasant way. Time also alerts us to the fact that, while we’re engaged with Shakespeare’s drama, time outside the theater marches on.

Quote #8

Sir, you have done enough, and have perform'd
A saint-like sorrow: no fault could you make,
Which you have not redeem'd; indeed, paid down
More penitence than done trespass: at the last,
Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them forgive yourself.
Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemishes in them, and so still think of
The wrong I did myself; which was so much,
That heirless it hath made my kingdom and
Destroy'd the sweet'st companion that e'er man
Bred his hopes out of. (5.1.1)

We know that sixteen long years have passed since Leontes lost his family. Here, it becomes clear that, for the long-suffering King of Sicily, time seems to have stood still. The memory of his wife and his own “blemishes” prohibit the king from moving forward. Leontes's grief and guilt keeps him frozen in time.

Quote #9

Beseech you, sir,
Remember since you owed no more to time
Than I do now: with thought of such affections,
Step forth mine advocate; at your request
My father will grant precious things as trifles. (5.1.7)

Here, Florizel pleads with Leontes to be an advocate for his relationship with Perdita. What’s interesting is that Florizel asks the king to remember the “time” when he was young and in love, which suggests that the passage of time has the effect of hardening us – as we age, we lose touch with the things that are most important, like love.

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