Onstage/Offstage (Mis)Recognitions in The Winter’s Tale
Keywords:Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, anagnorisis, narrative in drama, the offstage
How do the offstage and the narrative mode contribute to the construction of knowledge in The Winter’s Tale, making it perspectival and situated? This article discusses how not two, but three recognition scenes interact, bringing together the play’s first and second part, by enhancing the role of the offstage/onstage dialectic, both within each one of these three scenes, and in their mutual dialogue. This reading relies upon an interpretation of the play’s overall signifying system, based upon a principle of correspondences tying together the fabric of drama at different levels: lexical, performative, thematic, conceptual. It shows how foregrounded patterns of iteration dependent on the criterion of likeness do not make for stable significance outside of the realm of art (or artifice). Instead, they appear to be a possibly self-deluding response to a troubled awareness of the unreliability of signs and appearances, betraying concern about the (potentially tragic) inevitability of doubt.
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