#TeamHermione

Right off the bat in The Winter’s Tale, we learn that this play has a similar set up to that of Much Ado About Nothing; there is a jealous, insecure man who accuses a woman who is not as socially powerful based on his pure belief of her infidelity. Again, we see that the woman’s thoughts and opinions are not considered in the slightest. Other similar patterns in this storyline are the construct of women supporting women (in the case of Hermione and her ladies-in-waiting), the main male antagonist (Leontes) being relentless in his effort to ruin a woman’s reputation because of his “hurt feelings”, and on another note, the structure of wordplay/banter/wittiness is a similarly significant part of the action/movement of the play.

However, I do love the way in which Hermione, the Queen, asserts herself. Unlike Hero and also Beatrice in many ways, she is straightforward, honest, and open, immediately confronting all of the anger and insecurity directed at her throughout the first two acts. Interestingly, she seems hyperaware of the systems of oppression, that even she as the queen, must experience as a woman; for example, she states, “There’s some ill planet reigns. I must be patient till the heavens look with an aspect more favorable” (II.i.129-131). It is clear here that she recognizes that once the King has spoken, there is not much else that can be done, but she confidently stands up for herself throughout the scene and carries on even when she is finally imprisoned. Finally, the fact that the king’s men also believe her and try to stand up for her and her newborn child is a dynamic shift from that of Much Ado, where only Benedick and the Friar genuinely believe Hero’s innocence at first. I am very interested to see how Hermione will function as a champion for herself, and possibly for all women, throughout the rest of the text.

4 comments

  1. I completely agree with you, I really liked how Hermione’s character was much more outspoken (or as much as she can possibly be) when compared to Hero in Much Ado. It’s uplifting to see a woman who is able to speak for herself to some degree and stand up for herself, and I’m excited to see how that evolves throughout the text!

  2. I definitely think that The Winter’s Tale takes Much Ado to a new level. Hermione holds Beatrice’s strong convictions, but even more so. I think she will be important in this play when it comes to reversing gender roles and giving women a more prominent voice. Just the fact that she is the queen automatically puts her in that position of power, and I think she is going to use that power for the betterment of women (hopefully).

  3. I also really liked the fact that Shakespeare gave Hermione a strong voice despite the unfair and horrible accusations against her. I also saw a lot of Beatrice in Paulina’s character, as she checks in on Hermione when she is in prison and is unwavering in her critiques and anger at Leontes. I thought she was a really enticing character and am looking forward to (hopefully) seeing her more in the following acts.

  4. I am excited to see how Hermione’s role develops. She is a very strong women, very much unlike Hero, which hopefully will give us the ending we were all hoping for in Much Ado.

Leave a Reply