The Winter's Tale

Structure and Absurdity in The Winter's Tale 12th Grade

It is easy to accuse Shakespeare of absurdity and shapelessness in The Winter’s Tale, because, as a play, it shifts between genres (tragedy and comedy) and certain events are beyond reality. However, The Winter’s Tale is a work of art, and a well-crafted one, with a strong, convincing narrative which develops logically from Leontes’ irrational jealousy and rage to his impulsively imprisoning and banishing his wife and daughter to finally being reunited with them, having undergone a psychological or spiritual change whereby he calmly and patiently rediscovers his love for Hermione and rejoins his daughter after sixteen years.

In terms of form and shape, the play is structured into two very distinct halves. The settings of Sicilia and Bohemia, and the contrasts between them, divide the play generically: tragedy and comedy. While Sicilia represents Leontes’ ‘infected’ mind, Bohemia is a place of comic relief and happiness. In the festival, Perdita is reminded by Florizel to ‘apprehend nothing but jollity’: this typifies the overall sentiment of Bohemia, which is in stark contrast to Sicilia, where there is nothing to celebrate and there exists a general feeling of negativity and accusation. Leontes calls his wife an ‘adulteress’...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 943 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7594 literature essays, 2152 sample college application essays, 318 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in