Thou Met'st with Things Dying, I with Things New Born From King Lear to The Winter's Tale: Tragedies Transformed

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Schnepp, Jessica
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
This paper looks back at King Lear through the lens of The Winter's Tale, not in the hopes of superimposing an alternate interpretation of King Lear as an individual play but of illuminating Shakespeare's own process of reevaluating and re-imagining his poetic project, his evolving understanding of theological truth, and his place during England's transition from the Medieval to Early Modernism. This paper will analyze the starkly dichotomous criticism of King Lear and, through detailed comparison with the plot, character, imagery and themes of The Winter's Tale, prove not only that a criticism of King Lear is incomplete without The Winter's Tale, but that the latter is a deliberate reinvention of the former. As Shakespeare journeys from tragedy to romance (or tragicomedy), he discovers the paradox that all progress evolves from that backward glance. From the historical perspective, he realizes that reevaluation of the Medieval may be the best solution to the problems of Early Modernism.