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Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale – Conference I, Part 2

The first three acts of The Winter’s Tale contain the tragedy of the play. The final two acts, based on the principles of comedy, resolve the tragedy. King Leontes accuses his faithful wife Herimone and best friend King Polixenes of adultery. He flees to save his life and she is put on public trial. She stands firm in her defense; the king will hear none of it. Even a message from the oracle claiming her innocence does not set with the king: the oracle is wrong in the mind of the demented royal. Their son Mamillius has taken ill over his mother’s plight, and with the denial of the oracles decree, dies. His death represents the loss of grace. It is Leontes versus the truth, and he and his family and his kingdom will lose and suffer. Once the imagination becomes corrupt, man is capable of anything. Shakespeare is showing us in the short span of these first three acts what will take centuries for the world to reap as the consequences of denying the Roman Catholic Church. But this is a play of hope, and the final two acts resolve the damage done in the fist three.

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