Reading Journal

What I'm reading

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Winter's Tale by Shakespeare

I wasn't sure whether this was a tragedy or a comedy all the way to the 5th act. Great play. As I was reading this, I told Holly "Shakespeare is a really good writer." Duh. :)

King Leontes (wrongfully) suspects his wife Hermione of committing adultery with his best friend Polixenes. I love the last line about the tenth of mankind.
There have been,
Or I am much deceiv'd, cuckolds ere now;
And many a man there is, even at this present,
Now, while I speak this, holds his wife by th'arm,
That little thinks she has been sluic'd in's absence,
And his pond fish'd by his next neighbour, by
Sir Smile, his neighbour. Nay, there's comfort in't
Whiles other men have gates, and those gates open'd,
As mine, against their will. Should all despair
That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
Would hang themselves.

King Leontes accuses Antigonus of not being able to restrain his outspoken wife Paulina.
Leontes: A gross hag!
And, losel, thou art worthy to be hang'd,
That wilt not stay her tongue.

Antigonus: Hang all the husbands
That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
Hardly one subject.

Imprisoned, falsely accused, and denied her children, Hermione isn't afraid of Leontes' death sentence.
Sir, spare your threats!
The bug which you would fright me with I seek.
To me can life be no commodity:
The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
I do give lost, for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went. My second joy,
And first-fruites of my body, from his presence
I am barr'd, like one infectious. My third comfort,
Starr'd most unluckily, is from my breast --
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth --
Hal'd out to murder. Myself on every post
Proclaim'd a strumpet; with immodest hatred
The childbed privilege denied, which'longs
To women of all fashion; lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i'th'open air, before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive
That I should fear to die. Therefore proceed.

Paulina accuses King Leontes after Hermione's death.
But, O thou tyrant,
Do not repent these things, for they are heavier
Than all thy woes can stir. Therefore betake thee
To nothing but despair. A thousand knees,
Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
Upon a barren moutain, and still winter
In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
To look that way thou wert.


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