Sick with Jealousy
Leontes' sudden fit of jealousy and suspicion is reminds us of another famous Shakespeare character... x10. Leontes convinces himself of his wife's infidelity, despite the evidence to the contrary. Shakespeare presents his jealousy like a sickness or a disease.
If jealousy is a sickness, what is the cure?
Shakespeare on Jealousy
Shakespeare's characters are pretty familiar with the green-eyed monster.
Click through the slides for character quotes about jealousy from Shakespeare's work.
Watch a scene fromThe Winter's Tale with Simon Russell Beale (Shakespeare Uncovered on PBS). Here we see Leontes deep in the grip of irrational jealousy.
What Happened to Mamillius?
In The Winter's Tale, Mamillius dies as a direct result of his father, Leontes, condemning his mother, Hermione. Across all of Shakespeare's plays, there are 10 non-violent deaths of characters due to extreme emotional states.
A Questionable Death
Leontes realizes his mistake after his son dies, but the consequences of his actions continue. Just as his remorse is sinking in, news arrives that Hermione passed away.
Or did she? At the end of the play, Leontes has mourned for 16 years. Paulina brings the repentant king to a statue of Hermione, which springs to life. Is it magic? A miracle? Or an elaborately faked death?
What do you think happened to Hermione?
A Family's Undoing
The consequences of Leontes' actions ripple throughout two kingdoms. His penitence continues for 16 years. He acknowledges his guilt in three words:
"I am ashamed."
The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's "problem plays" because it doesn't fit neatly into one genre. But hey, neither does life. For some, like director Michael Witmore, that's part of its appeal.
A Problem Play?
How does someone redeem themselves from their past mistakes?