From Sanity to Madness in 350 lines? Explore the presentation of Leontes in Act One, focusing closely on language and imagery. Essay

821 WordsNov 2, 20084 Pages
In The Winter’s Tale, the brief moments at the beginning of the Act do show some signs of competence and regularity in Leontes as he tries to convince Polixenes to stay “a sennight longer” which could present the possibility that he begins sane and turns mad. Presenting the idea of Leontes becoming mad is the apparent change of tone in his voice and the language he uses in Act 1 Scene two. Having asked his wife to make Polixenes stay he is then taken aback when he agrees. “As now they are, and making practised smiles As in a looking glass” In the speech this quote was taken from which Leontes makes aside to the audience we see how quickly he become delusional. By making remarks at the closeness between Hermione and Polixenes he is distancing himself from them. He sees there relationship as something impure and wrong and subconsciously it could be said that he is distancing himself from the sane world as he speaks more and his paranoia takes over. This view is emphasised later on in the Act when confronting Hermione. “From him that she has most cause to grieve it should be, She’s an adultress!” Leontes is once again referring to his wife as “her” and “she” and by doing this he loses the personal relationship he has with her and perhaps moves deeper into insanity. It could also be said that Leontes does come back from his state of madness at the end of the act. By being so full of hate and mistrust, he has convinced himself that he is right. When explaining to the Lord and Antigonus about his actions he compares their sense of smell to that of a dead man and says “...; but I do see’t and feel’t As you feel doing thus.” Quite scarily, Leontes appears to be speaking with confidence and is collected. Having convinced himself that he is right, his mind does not go racing away and he speaks far more rationally and under control, giving the illusion that he is sane once

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