Monday, September 26, 2011

Pardon my absence, I was off 'playing'

I try to attend a play at the Utah Shakespeare Festival every year.  Unfortunately, I missed last year due to circumstance and other obligations, and I was consigned to miss it again this year, however, in a bit of a miracle--one that sadly doesn't quite compare to Hermione's return to life--I was able to attend A Winter's Tale and pay my yearly respects to the great playwright.  Speaking of Hermione and the spectacle of (in a way) her rebirth, seeing the play made a huge difference in that moment compared to reading.  First, I read the play thinking she was actually dead and that there was an actual statue of her that came to life in the end. The 'a-ha!' moment for me was King Leontes' describing the 'statue' of Hermione.  Somehow I missed this part until I saw the play live in Cedar City:

Second Gentleman. I thought she had some great matter there in hand; for she hath privately twice or thrice a day, ever since the death of Hermione, visited that removed house.

What's interesting to me is that I was more shocked that she was alive and hidden the entire time than the idea of her coming back to life via heavenly means.  Also, while it took away in one aspect a bit of Christianity embedded in the play, I found a few others, but   this exchange between Leontes and Paulina in the last scene of the play made me think most:

  • Leontes. What you can make her do,
    I am content to look on: what to speak,
    I am content to hear; for 'tis as easy
    To make her speak as move.

  • Paulina. It is required
    You do awake your faith. Then all stand still;
    On: those that think it is unlawful business
    I am about, let them depart.

This part makes me think of the time Jesus healed the man who was bedridden.  It may not be the best relation, but I see and hear Leontes' words as a reminder to Christ's reply to those who scoffed as His ability to forgive sins:

Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

  I struggle to make a straight up connection between the two, but "for 'tis as easy To make her speak as move" simply reminds me of the power of forgiveness that God alone has concerning our sins.  It's as if Paulina holds that forgiving/judging power for Leontes' trespass against his wife, and Shakespeare wants us to remember how we are changed and forgiven.


  1. This is an interesting connection. I like it. I, too, took particular notice of this scene during the play, but I failed to realize the relation to Christ that you did. I did find it interesting, however, that Paulina reserves the right to decide when Leontes gets to know that his wife has been alive all along. Did Hermione agree to this? Did she decide to allow Paulina to decide when she should make her life known to her husband? How could she handle being away from him, knowingly, for sixteen years? Or was it not very knowingly?

    These questions weren't answered in the play, but I can't help but wonder about this. I like Paulina, but why does she get away with this? (Obviously there is some dramatic necessity for it all, but all that disregarded, the question still stands.)

  2. I enjoyed reading about the connection that you made here. I never thought of it this way, but during the play Paulina was very careful that no one should touch the statue until she was ready for them to...she was intent that Leontes' soul should be healed before he is rewarded. When Leontes exercises faith, then the miracle is granted, just as in life.

  3. I really like this. I have been waiting for someone to write a connection to Christianity. It is odd though, the whole plan Paulina and Hermione had. How hard would it be to live in a hut for 16 years just to make sure your husband is fully repented.

  4. Yeah you guys said a lot of things I was thinking about when I made the connection. I feel that Paulina gets away with it because she is somewhat of a foil to God's character. Like Justin said, God decides when to grant miracles. And Austin, knowing Paulina's character, and again comparing it to God, I don't think that Hermione really would have a say in the plan because Paulina's will be done.