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Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale – Conference I, Part 1

The last four plays of Shakespeare’s career are his romances (PericlesCymbelineThe TempestThe Winter’s Tale.) In these plays he sums up all he has learned about life and his craft. They are filled with religious notions that his Catholic audience will recognize. He is sending them a message of hope. These plays too are a unique blend of comedy and tragedy. All drama is based in conflict. The conflict in comedy deals with individual desires verses the social norm. In the end a comprise is made and all parties are satisfied. The conflict in tragedy is an individual who challenges the metaphysical and gets crushed in the process. Wisdom is the fruit of this suffering. In the romantic plays there are no gigantic characters like Macbeth or Othello; rather the plot drives the play. There are no external forces to tempt the main character to do wrong; they just do it. The natural and supernatural (fantasy) is woven throughout to help move the plot along. In The Winter’s Tale the king without reason accuses his best friend and faithful wife of infidelity. He decides what is real and what is not: the very principle of Protestantism.

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