Review: The Winter’s Tale

Posted 3 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Winter’s Tale
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

The jealous King of Sicily becomes convinced that his wife is carrying the child of his best friend. Imprisoned and put on trial, the Queen collapses when the King refuses to accept the divine confirmation of her innocence. The child is abandoned to die on the coast of Bohemia. But when she is found and raised by a shepherd, it seems redemption may be possible.

And here I am, at the last title that I’ve listed to read for this year’s William Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in. The title seemed fitting as we enter the winter season soon enough 😉

Once again, I find myself unsure what to thik of this play. On the one hand, it’s easier to follow compared to some of the recent comedies I’ve read, but on the other I’m not sure I would even group this under comedy (despite of the happy ending–from the bit I researched, apparently scholars are also wondering about this play a bit)? I had to look up why this play was titled the way it was too, as there’s no sign of winter anywhere in this story 😛

It’s a pretty bizarre tale, with royalty and peasants, shepherds and clowns roaming about. Once again we have a tale here where the husband thinks his wie is cheating on him, which results in a whole lot of drama and confusion. There are some familiar tropes here that Shakespeare has used in other plays, but I didn’t really think much of the characters here which is why some of the themes weren’t as powerful as they could’ve been in my experience reading the story. The setting in which this story is placed in seems fantastical as well; there are places like Bohemia and Sicily, but with the names and the practices, I couldn’t quite place what time period this story was set in. It was interesting though.

Overall, this play was okay. Felt rather bizarre, at times frustrating with the jealous king in question being, well, a bit of a stubborn arse. It wasn’t boring or horrid, but it wasn’t as captivating as some of his other plays. Nonetheless I’m glad to have gotten around to reading it.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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6 Responses to “Review: The Winter’s Tale”

  1. vicky blake

    When I read Winter’s Tale I thought it didn’t work and was completely bonkers but then I saw it at The Old Vic with Simon Russell Beale and found it incredibly moving, especially the final scene. It needs to be really well acted though!

    • Nice! I’ve only seen Simon Russell Beale in The Hollow Crown production and he was amazing as Falstaff (which I suppose eases the fact that Peter Capaldi didn’t win in that category at the BAFTAs that year; both were excellent performances) 🙂

  2. Oh, I love The Winter’s Tale! Though I don’t really care for Perdita and Florizel, I love so many of the other characters–Hermione with her calm dignity, Paulina with her fearless tongue, even Leontes who does so much wrong. I think it’s a really beautiful story with its message of hope and redemption and the ending, if seen in the theatre, I think would be truly stunning.

    I guess, if it helps, you can consider the first half of the play to be occurring in winter, though. Mamillius mentions to his mother that “a sad tale’s best for winter” when he offers to tell her a story.

    I happen to like the tragicomedy aspect of the play, too, even if it seems to have given scholars headaches trying to squish it into a neat categorization. 😀

    • Thanks for the info about the play! I admit, I find it amusing that scholars are a bit baffled about this play, but then in the same vein I understand why! It definitely felt like it was going the tragic route at one point, but then as you mentioned it is quite hopeful and redeptive at the end so it’s hard to categorise it one way or the other xD

      I think I might feel differently about the plays I’ve rated 2 stars if I see the story on stage rather than reading about it.

  3. I read this play for the first time recently, as well. (Krysta made me.)

    I do think it’s a play that doesn’t necessarily have as much “immediate reward” as some of Shakespeare’s other work. I did enjoy it, but I get the impression it will be the type of text I find more interesting after I think about it for awhile, write a paper about it, etc.

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