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At first I didn’t expect to like The Winter’s Tale. Leontes’ ravings got to me. His stubbornness and refusal to consider his friends’ reasoning was maddening to watch, sort of like how it’s maddening to see misunderstanding after misunderstanding in a romantic comedy. Yet, his wrath and foolishness drove the plot so I learned to accept it.
I started by just reading the play, planning to watch the 1981 BBC production later. I decided then to watch the first two acts on the DVD. I got used to the video and it is best to experience Shakespeare acted out not read. The BBC shot The Winter’s Tale as a play, with minimal sets which worked well for me.
I’m not sure what I think about the two parts of the plot, given their different tones. I enjoy the division in Law & Order, but the tone is the same in the policing and courtroom sections. But I’ll cut Shakespeare some slack, though I wish I had a better understanding of his reasoning.
My favorite character was Paulina because she was strong in her speaking up to Leontes. Interesting that he didn’t respond with an “Off with her head.” She kept Hermione alive and had more inner strength than the Queen.
I did like Queen Hermione, who does state her case clearly, but she was wispy and borderline frail, which didn’t help her in the long run.
Act 4 and 5 which focus on the love story between Hermione and Leontas’ daughter Perdita and Florizel, the son of Polixenes. It’s quite pastoral and fluffy. Perdita as the epitome of filial piety and feminine beauty was saccharine, but in time I came to like her.
The end with Hermoine’s return and reuniting with Leonta was too far fetched for my taste. Yet, I was ready for the play to wrap up.