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Shakespeare & Beyond

Imagining Shakespeare: What happens in the statue scene from "The Winter’s Tale?”

Illustration of the statue scene from the end of Shakespeare's
Illustration of the statue scene from the end of Shakespeare's
Illustration of the statue scene from the end of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," by Owen Jones

Plate 44 (drawing the curtain) of Owen Jones’s Scenes from The Winter’s Tale, mid-19th century.

Spoiler alert: something magical happens in the last scene of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. If you haven’t read or seen it—maybe you’re waiting for Folger Theatre’s upcoming production, which begins March 13—stop reading now. We don’t want to ruin it for you.

A engraving of Sarah Siddons as Hermione in "The Winter's Tale."

Sarah Siddons as Hermione. Adam Buck, 1802. Harvard Theatre Collection. Catalogue of dramatic portraits, ART File S568 no.52 (size XS).

If you’re familiar with The Winter’s Tale, you know that in the first part of the play, Leontes, king of Sicilia, is hosting his friend Polixenes, king of Bohemia. Suddenly, Leontes becomes unreasonably convinced that his wife, Hermione, has committed adultery with Polixenes. Leontes calls for Polixenes to be killed, but he escapes.

Hermione, under arrest, gives birth to a daughter; Leontes orders the baby to be taken overseas and abandoned. The death of the couple’s young son, Mamillius, brings Leontes to his senses. But it is too late. Word arrives that Hermione, too, has died. In Bohemia, a shepherd finds and adopts the baby girl, Perdita.


[…] Folger Theatre’s new production of The Winter’s Tale starts tonight with a pay-what-you-will preview. To celebrate, we asked our followers on Twitter and Instagram to share stagings and illustrations of the famous “statue scene” from the end of the play with the hashtag #ImaginingShakespeare. We also delved into the Folger collection and shared some images of our own. Check those out and learn more about the scene in our previous post. […]

What's your favorite statue scene from "The Winter's Tale?" — March 13, 2018