William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

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The Winter's Tale

is classified as a comedy by the composers of the First Folio, a late romance, an allegory or a solstitial play by modern scholars, and “an old tale” by the characters themselves, who nevertheless insist we must accept it as true. While its title recalls those of

A Midsummer Night's Dream


Twelfth Night

, which have to do with seasonal rites rather than with actual events of the plot, it shares many features with the group of Shakespeare's last plays – storms at sea, families broken and mended, pagan gods, magic tunes – and definitely requires more than the average suspension of disbelief. The plot draws on an improbable story by Robert Greene,

Pandosto or The Triumph of Time

, to which Shakespeare adds several impossibilities, as was his frequent practice. He…

3636 words

Citation: Goy-Blanquet, Dominique. "The Winter's Tale". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 October 2005; last revised 10 September 2019. [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8178, accessed 19 April 2024.]

8178 The Winter's Tale 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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