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The Winter’s Tale

The Winter’s Tale is rich in messages to the Catholic audiences of Shakespeare’s time, but did not threaten his role as a public playwright in the company of the king, James I. Shakespeare was forced to do two things simultaneously throughout his career: remain a loyal subject, and write Catholic plays. The Winter’s Tale contains coded messages that gave hope to Catholics who suffered persecution. The king accuses his wife of infidelity and condemns the accused father to death. The king’s loyal servant, Camillo, warns the accused father and together they flee to Bohemia. Bohemia, at that time offered refuge to Catholics fleeing persecution. Pope Paul V (1605–1621) was born Camillo Borghese and was the reigning pope at the time of the production of this play. This is code but it is obvious. Camillo is the good servant working behind the scenes. This play is saying indirectly that the pope is in charge, trust him, he is doing what he can. Paulina, who defends the innocence of the queen, is based on Maudlin Brown who spoke out in defense of the Faith. The conflict at the start of the play concludes with reunion of all those who were separated.

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