The Winter’s Tale: A Paradox of a Play

 

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“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” – Anne Bradstreet

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” – Ernst Fischer

Shakespeare wrote some really bizarre stuff in his lifetime, but The Winter’s Tale out-weirds most of the roster.

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Did Shakespeare even have a map?

Like, for one thing, it’s somehow a bleak and snowy winter in the normally sunny-central, Mediterranean island of Sicily. Meanwhile nestled far to the north between Germany and Poland is the unexpected land of sunshine, flowers, and summery-silliness…Bohemia.

 

Which apparently has a coastline no one knew about…because all maps clearly indicate how unfortunately landlocked the country is.

As if manipulated geography and climate zones weren’t enough, a statue comes to life, a man is eaten by a bear, and a people rise from the dead.

What in the world is going on here?

In the vernacular, a “winter’s tale” is an absurd story of enchantment and faraway places told to fight off cold and dark days of snow and ice. A fairy tale. So in calling his play by such a title, Shakespeare was signaling to all of us that this was a story not to be taken seriously in details; but the greater themes of the story aim at something larger, and act to stave off the darkness and cold. Continue reading

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