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TOPIC: Act 5 scene 3

Act 5 scene 3 9 years 5 months ago #2033

  • kelcb22
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does anyone have an opinion on why hermione is so willing t oforgive Leontes after she had to be hidden or was dead for sixteen years? Why isn't she more excited to see perditia? Does she not see her at first hence paulina telling her ,turn good lady our perdita is found?
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Act 5 scene 3 9 years 3 months ago #2210

  • cbishop
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Good questions. Here are some thoughts based on our production of it around 1996.

Why is Hermione forgiving? Several ways to look at it. On the realistic level, obviously she has been cared for by Paulina and would be totally aware of Leontes' grief and repentance, and 16 years is a very long time. The piece, after all, is about forgiveness and regeneration, and if she was unable to make that reach it'd be an utterly different play.

But I also think that the statue isn't just a device; on the metaphoric (and psychological) level, it represents exactly what her state is. Both she and Leontes, spiritually, have been frozen in time: they are dead creatures. With Leontes' touch, both come alive: the flow begins. And there is no sudden rushing into each other's arms: I think it has to be played with both so overwhelmed they can barely stand. Imagine blood flowing back into your veins for the first time in 16 years — the extraordinary joy *and* the pain. i think of the scene in TALE OF TWO CITIES when the old man is released after years & years in the Bastille.

Why doesn't she see Perdita immediately? For this same reason. The moment is too overwhelming to take in more than one narrow focus at a time. Why isn't she "excited"? I think she's so overwhelmed she can barely speak. She has never seen this child of hers; until today she believed it dead. So she has to speak very formally, very sparingly, if she's to speak at all.

It's the most emotionally moving scene in Shakespeare, I feel. Building up to Leontes' touch and "Oh, she's warm," and we think that's the climax, but the moment that follows, when she turns to see Perdita for the first time, that's the killer.

Peace & joy—
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