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[personal profile] capriuni
I've not forgotten this series of posts, but random events have left me drained of spoons, and my momentum got rather scattered.

Instead of trying to figure out witty ways to write about how the theme of "parents and children", is the leitmotif of this play, I'm just going to quote all the lines where people of different ages are talked about, and let you see for yourself. In other words, I'm just going to back up the proverbial dump truck, and drop a load of quotes on you, in chronological order in the play... Mostly (I may not be able to resist giving an aside or two).

Anyway, here's the opening boilerplate, with links to the other posts I've made, so far (Please start with Part One, if you haven't already, Part Two is why I am so passionate about this play, and why I want to read it aloud in the town square, so I'd be happy if you read that, too. But you can save it for the end, if you want):



Part One: Synopsis ("Once upon a time...").

[Note: I've corrected a detail of the plot since I first posted this, and I've also added a footnote with Shakespeare's character and place names]

Part Two: Major Themes and Context, with quotes (Conflict between personal conscience and the law, women as the keepers of moral authority, and questioning the limits of an hereditary, theocratic, monarchy).

Part Three: Secondary Themes (The relationship between parents and children, the passage of time, and watching children grow up).

Part Four: Plot and Character Crafting

Part Five: Links to other people's interpretations



ARCHIDAMUS:
I think there is not in the world either malice or
matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable
comfort of your young prince Mamillius: it is a
gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came
into my note.

CAMILLO:
I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it
is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the
subject, makes old hearts fresh: they that went on
crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to
see him a man.

ARCHIDAMUS:
Would they else be content to die?

CAMILLO:
Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should
desire to live.

ARCHIDAMUS:
If the king had no son, they would desire to live
on crutches till he had one.
    Act 1: scene i


    [Gotta love a little shade-throwing on Ableism/Ageism!]


LEONTES:
[. . .] My brother,
Are you so fond of your young prince as we
Do seem to be of ours?
    [*ahem* -- seem ?? a little foreshadowing there, Will?]


POLIXENES:
If at home, sir,
He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter,
Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy,
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all:
He makes a July's day short as December,
And with his varying childness cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.
    Act 1: scene ii

---

First Lady:
Come, my gracious lord,
Shall I be your playfellow?

MAMILLIUS:
No, I'll none of you.

First Lady:
Why, my sweet lord?

MAMILLIUS:
You'll kiss me hard and speak to me as if
I were a baby still.

[. . .]

[. . .] Pray now
What colour are your eyebrows?

First Lady:
Blue, my lord.

MAMILLIUS:
Nay, that's a mock: I have seen a lady's nose
That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.

    [That is such a six-year-old's joke: to trick a grown-up into "admitting" they have blue eyebrows!]


[Later, in the same scene, after Leontes has ordered his wife to prison, and publicly accused her of both adultery and plotting to kill him]

ANTIGONUS: (To Leontes)
It is for you we speak, not for ourselves:
You are abused and by some putter-on
That will be damn'd for't; would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him. Be she honour-flaw'd,
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven
The second and the third, nine, and some five;
If this prove true, they'll pay for't:
by mine honour,
I'll geld 'em all; fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations: they are co-heirs;
And I had rather glib myself than they
Should not produce fair issue.
    Act Two: scene i


    [Yup, Antigonus is written as unambiguously good in this play, and he's talking of honor killing his own daughters -- he's doing it as hyperbole, to make the point how much he does not believe the king's accusation, but still.... That's an example of how the state of Women's Rights stood in England, when Shakespeare wrote this, if these lines would not have caused a an eyelid to bat. Included for both the specific ages mentioned, and the gender.]


Shepherd: (Coming upon the baby in the basket)
I would there were no age between sixteen and
three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the
rest; for there is nothing in the between but
getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry,
stealing, fighting--Hark you now! Would any but
these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty
hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my
best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find
than the master: if any where I have them, 'tis by
the seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an't be thy
will what have we here! Mercy on 's, a barne a very
pretty barne! A boy or a child, I wonder? A
pretty one; a very pretty one: sure, some 'scape:
though I am not bookish, yet I can read
waiting-gentlewoman in the 'scape. This has been
some stair-work, some trunk-work, some
behind-door-work: they were warmer that got this
than the poor thing is here. I'll take it up for
pity: yet I'll tarry till my son come; he hallooed
but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!
    Act 3: scene iii


Enter Time, the Chorus

Time:
I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror
Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error,
Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
To me or my swift passage, that I slide
O'er sixteen years and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap, since it is in my power
To o'erthrow law and in one self-born hour
To plant and o'erwhelm custom. Let me pass
The same I am, ere ancient'st order was
Or what is now received: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,
The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving
That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia, and remember well,
I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
I list not prophecy; but let Time's news
Be known when 'tis brought forth.
A shepherd's daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never, yet that Time himself doth say
He wishes earnestly you never may.
    Act 4: scene i


Shepherd:
Fie, daughter! when my old wife lived, upon
This day she was both pantler, butler, cook,
Both dame and servant; welcomed all, served all;
Would sing her song and dance her turn; now here,
At upper end o' the table, now i' the middle;
On his shoulder, and his; her face o' fire
With labour and the thing she took to quench it,
She would to each one sip. You are retired,
As if you were a feasted one and not
The hostess of the meeting: pray you, bid
These unknown friends to's welcome; for it is
A way to make us better friends, more known.
Come, quench your blushes and present yourself
That which you are, mistress o' the feast: come on,
And bid us welcome to your sheep-shearing,
As your good flock shall prosper.

    [Comparing the mature confidence of an adult woman to the awkward shyness of a teenager, at her first big social gathering/role as hostess]


[Later, at the same feast]

POLIXENES:
Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you;
Have you a father?

FLORIZEL:
I have: but what of him?

POLIXENES:
Knows he of this?

FLORIZEL:
He neither does nor shall.

POLIXENES:
Methinks a father
Is at the nuptial of his son a guest
That best becomes the table. Pray you once more,
Is not your father grown incapable
Of reasonable affairs? is he not stupid
With age and altering rheums? can he speak? hear?
Know man from man? dispute his own estate?
Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing
But what he did being childish?

FLORIZEL:
No, good sir;
He has his health and ampler strength indeed
Than most have of his age.

POLIXENES:
By my white beard,
You offer him, if this be so, a wrong
Something unfilial: reason my son
Should choose himself a wife, but as good reason
The father, all whose joy is nothing else
But fair posterity, should hold some counsel
In such a business.

    [Remember: this is the same son that, 16 years earlier, in Act 1, Polixenes had said: "He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter" Also, this exchange is a call back to the mention of "they that go on crutches" (code marker for "elderly" in general) that opened the play in Act 1 scene i]


    Act 4: scene iv




And so we come full circle

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