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Masculine and feminine penitence in The Winter's Tale.

LIKE most of Shakespeare's late plays, The Winter's Tale foregrounds the themes of sin, repentance, and forgiveness. (1) The initial conversation between Leontes and Camillo demonstrates that Shakespeare's theological vision in the play is rooted in a modified form of traditional penitential practices. Detailing Camillo's former position as trusted counselor, Leontes explains,
   Th' entreaties of your mistress? Satisfy?
   Let that suffice. I have trusted thee, Camillo,
   With all the nearest things to my heart, as well
   My chamber-counsels, wherein, priest-like, thou
   Hast cleansed my bosom; I from thee departed
   Thy penitent reformed. But we have been
   Deceived in thy integrity, deceived
   In that which seems so. (1.2.231-39)

Leontes's speech recreates the relationship between penitent and confessor: Leontes makes a complete disclosure of his secrets ("all the nearest things to my heart"); Camillo offers a form of shriving ("priest-like ... thou hast cleansed my bosom"); and Leontes in turn becomes a "penitent reformed." Further, Leontes's repetition of the term "satisfy" evokes the doctrine of penitential satisfaction. This theologically rich speech demonstrates the extent to which Camillo's "priest-like" counsel mirrors the general tripartite form of sacramental confession--contrition (contritio cordis), confession (confessio oris), and satisfaction (satisfactio operis). What is most interesting about Camillo's counsel, however, is not that it provides evidence of Shakespeare's biographical relationship to or personal belief in Catholic doctrine, but rather that it enacts a crucial part of the penitential process, namely, that it has a defined end. In their former exchanges, Camillo "[h]ast cleansed my bosom" and, in the process, Leontes was "reformed" because, as his opening lines intimate, his confession was sufficient and complete.

The transition from Camillo to Paulina as Leontes's "priest-like" counselor after the actual death of Mamillius and apparent deaths of Hermione and Perdita establishes an oppositional mode of penitence in The Winter's Tale. In contrast with Camilio's tripartite model of penitence, Paulina defines Leontes's crimes as unforgiveable and beyond his capacity for atonement:
   But O thou tyrant,
   Do not repent these things, for they are heavier
   Than all thy woes can stir. Therefore betake thee
   To nothing but despair. A thousand knees,
   Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
   Upon a barren mountain, and still winter
   In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
   To look that way thou wert. (3.2.204-11)

Given his extreme guilt, Leontes is all too willing to accept Paulina's description of his perpetual penitence. Not only can Paulina "not speak too much" according to Leontes, she also cannot prescribe too much punishment for his sins (3.2.212). In this sense, her catalogue of physical mortifications functions as extreme variations of conventional actio poenitentia or "work of expiation imposed by the Church aiming at the sinner's reconciliation with God and the complete destruction of sin" (Anciaux 133). Paulina's image of prolonged kneeling and fasting repeats some of the most common means for manifesting external penitence. Yet her initial description of Leontes's spiritual state, in which his sins are "heavier / Than all thy woes can stir" and in which "nothing but despair" is available to him, is antithetical to the very notion of penitence since it forecloses any possibility of satisfaction. According to this interpretation, on the one side, Paulina appears to inhabit the role of a despair figure along the lines of Spenser's allegorical Despaire who advocates suicide as a solution to the insurmountable nature of sin. On the other side, Leontes's punishment seems to correspond to Spenser's Aesculapius, who endures "endlesse penaunce for one fault" (1.5.42), or Milton's fallen angels after Satan's successful temptation of Adam and Eve, for their "penance" is an "annual humbling" that involves being transformed into serpents and compelled to eat ashen fruit for "certain number'd days, / To dash thir pride, and joy for Man seduc't" (10.550, 576-77). In both of these cases, the prescribed penance merely compounds rather than alleviates their punishment because no possibility for redemption exists. However, Paulina neither seeks Leontes's damnation nor conceives of his penitential regime as fruitless and unredemptive. On the contrary, she seeks to institute a penitential model that carries with it a radically different freight than Camilio's cyclical pattern of contrition, confession, and cleansing. More specifically, Paulina seeks to graft Leontes's "shame perpetual" (3.2.235) onto his identity, to refashion Leontes the tyrant into Leontes "the penitent king" (4.2.6-7).

These competing models of penitence, I argue in this essay, are shaped by and unfold along gendered lines. The relationship between penitential program, gender, and a subject's position to the monarch becomes immediately clear after Paulina rebukes Leontes. Whereas Camillo formerly occupied a fixed place of authority (it is Leontes who approaches Camillo for cleansing and then departs a "penitent reformed"), Paulina must negotiate her control based on Leontes's expressed will and the objections of the male-dominated court. Despite Leontes's agreement with her sharp criticism, for instance, a Lord of the council chamber attempts to silence her: "Say no more; / Howe'er the business goes, you have made fault / Tth' boldness of your speech" (3.2.213-15). Many critics, as Huston Diehl has recently noted, have offered similar interpretations of her speech: "Paulina's vehement, biting, and relentless rebukes seem so assaultive that many scholars and readers today, like Sicily's courtiers, find them excessive and distasteful, despite Paulina's claims that her speaking is medicinal and intended to 'do good'" (72). One critic's reading, viewing Paulina's treatment of Leontes and her dedication to keeping the memory of Hermione alive after sixteen years as "coercive, sadistic," and a form of "memorial vindictiveness," seeks to elevate the reconciliation brought about through Hermione's resurrection at the expense of placing Paulina in the role of a shrew (Sherman 71-72). (2) Rather than taking such a bold, counter-productive approach to the Lord's rebuke, Paulina responds to the first of several attempts to quiet her with the apology, "I am sorry for't, / All faults I make, when I shall come to know them, / I do repent. Alas, I have showed too much / The rashness of a woman" (3.2.215-17). And she even goes so far as to foreswear her role as Leontes's counselor:
   Do not receive affliction
   At my petition; I beseech you, rather
   Let me be punished, that have minded you
   Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,
   Sir, royal sire, forgive a foolish woman.
   The love I bore your queen--lo, fool again!
   I'll speak of her no more, nor of your children.
   I'll not remember you of my own lord,
   Who is lost too. Take your patience to you,
   And I'll say nothing. (3.2.219-28)

Paulina's identification of herself as a "foolish woman" and her verbal slip--"The love I bore your queen--lo, fool again!"--underscore her awareness that she is a woman criticizing the king in a court filled with male lords. Her self-deprecation serves to mask her intentions and assume an acceptable, deferential role to male authority. Yet her use of the rhetorical figure of occupatio indicates that she wants Leontes to remember his sins and her conviction that she should assume this role. Further, her offer to "say nothing" pressures Leontes either to support or overrule the Lord. This establishes her overarching strategy of asserting authority and speaking publicly: she uses the greater male authority (in this case Leontes) as leverage against male attempts to stifle or silence her. (3) Paulina must wait for Leontes to authorize her speech--he responds by saying, "Thou didst speak but well / When most the truth" (3.2.229-30)--and her role as penitential counselor: "So long as nature / Will bear up with this exercise, so long /1 daily vow to use it" (3.2.237-39). Likewise, she waits silently for Leontes to establish his penitential regime and for him to command, "Come, and lead me / To these sorrows" (3.2.239-40). Once this power is granted, Paulina sustains these penitential exercises for sixteen years and secures her resistance to the masculine demands of the court.

Although Shakespeare's representation of Paulina foregrounds her loyalty to Hermione and resistance to Leontes's tyranny, his treatment of her penitential vision nevertheless reiterates the common stereotype in penitential writings of women being imperfect penitents due to their susceptibility to over-scrupulousness. (4) In A Little Treatise of the Manner and Form of Confession, Erasmus explains "that the synner myghte take truste and courage of Christes promyses, and that he myght loue, rather than feare," but he notes that "ouermoche care full and scrupulous rehersal and rekenyng up" of sins and their circumstances is commonplace: "This disco[m]moditie or yuel chau[n]seth moste specially in children, womene, an aged folke, & suche as be by nature of a timorous & fearefull my[n] de" (sig. Fviiir-Fviiiv). Concerns about women's over-scrupulousness extend beyond discussions of problems about administering and receiving sacramental confession. Pastoral letters to Roman Catholic and Protestant women include warnings against excessive doubt. In an 11 January 1543 letter to an unnamed woman, Martin Luther counsels, "Dear M, you must not believe your own thoughts or the devil. But believe what we preachers say, for God has commanded us to instruct and absolve sins" (Letters of Spiritual Counsel 103). John Bradford, the English reformer and Marian martyr, in a mid-sixteenth-century letter addressed to Mrs. M. H., offers similar counsel on the problem of Satan casting "into our memories our imperfection, frailty, falls, and offences, that we should doubt God's mercy and favour toward us" (125). To counter these doubts, Bradford explains, "Therefore, my good Sister, we must not be sluggish herein, but as satan laboureth to loosen our faith, so must we labour to fasten it, by thinking on the promises and convenant of God in Christ's Blood" (125). Bradford's other letters to women suffering from afflicted consciences also "address feelings of despair that Calvinistic predestination aroused in many early modern women who engaged in scrupulous self-examination" (King 142). (5)

The pastoral issue of over-scrupulousness was by no means limited to women in the period. The retention of a rite of private confession was retained in the Book of Common Prayer as a means to relieve scrupulous consciences. In "The Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion," the minister is instructed to exhort those who might be languishing in self-doubt to seek relief:

And because it is requisite that no man should come to the Holy Communion but with a full trust in God's mercy, and with a quiet conscience, therefore if there be any of you which by the means aforesaid, cannot quiet his own conscience, but requireth further comfort or counsel, then let him come to me, or some other discreet and learned minister of God's Word, and open his grief that he may receive such ghostly counsel, advice, and comfort as his conscience may be relieved, and that by the ministry of God's Word he may receive comfort and the benefit of absolution, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness. (Booty 257) (6)

More broadly, English writers acknowledged the risk of overemphasizing the magnitude of one's sins and the spiritual and emotional effects of excessive self-critique. The over-scrupulous, warns Richard Hooker, "cast themselves first into verie great and peradventure needlesse agonies through misconstruction of things spoaken, about proportioning our greifes to our sinnes: for which they never thinck they have wept and mourned enough" (3:101). (7) Along the same lines, Richard Burton identifies a "scrupulous conscience" as a cause of religious melancholy for it "tortures so many, that either out of a deepe apprehension of their unworthinesse, and consideration of their owne dissolute life, accuse themselves, and aggravate every small offence, when there is no such cause, misdoubting in the meane time Gods mercies, they fall into these inconveniences" (3:416). For more Puritan-leaning English Protestants focused on the doctrine of predestination, introspection regarding election was encouraged, but scrupulosity or excessive doubling were similarly criticized. John Downame, in A Christian Warfare, seeks to assure readers to focus on the certainty of their salvation by asking, "But what peace can we haue, if we be not assured of our election, but have our minds distracted and racked betweene faith and doubting, hope and despaire?" (103-04). Some element of doubt surrounding salvation was not necessarily an obstacle to spiritual progress, for most English theologians considered presumption to be as harmful as over-scrupulousness. Rather, the greatest spiritual risk of scrupulosity was that an individual would elevate the significance of his or her sinfulness to the extent that it would exclude the possibility of divine forgiveness; only a short distance existed between over-scrupulosity and despair.

Of course, Paulina is neither tormenting herself nor considering an insubstantial issue--Leontes is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of Antigonus and Mamillius and believes that he is the cause of the deaths of Hermione and Perdita because of his tyrannous jealousy and impiety toward the gods. She imposes such a harsh regime on Leontes so that he will recognize the incommensurability between his sin and his subsequent mortifications. This necessarily entails that his penitence continues even after he internalizes this role as the "penitent king"; this in fact becomes the point of departure rather than arrival. In so doing, Paulina evokes Luther's conception of repentance with which he begins the Ninety-Five Theses: "1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance" (Basic Theological Writings 21). For Luther, writes Alister McGrath, "In order for the Christian to progress in his spiritual life, he must continually be forced back to the foot of the cross, to begin it all over again" (171). This reconceptualization of repentance abandoned the medieval understanding of sin and forgiveness as it was handled through the sacrament of penance. One of the effects of this transformation was to bring repentance and despair into close proximity, since feelings of hopelessness would underscore the faithful's dependence on grace. Yet Protestant theologians did not consider this approach to emphasize spiritual or psychological pessimism; on the contrary, they argued that it elevated the centrality of the forgiveness of sins through baptism and its continual vitality and presence in Christian life. (8) Given the pre-Christian setting of The Winter's Tale, Paulina's direction of Leontes's penitence does not explicitly correspond to any particular religious outlook. In the dramatic fiction, it is more focused on Leontes's remembering the perfection and irreplaceability of Hermione, preventing his remarrying, and maintaining the possibility that the Oracle will be fulfilled. But the method that she deploys corresponds with the more general Protestant understanding of ongoing repentance. (9)

Even so, Shakespeare's representation of Paulina's unwillingness to bring Leontes's penitential exercises to an end even after he has been transformed into "the penitent king" transposes early modern concerns about female penitents' over-scrupulousness to her role as a female confessor. Shakespeare does not provide a blunt anti-feminist dismissal of women confessors in the vein of Henry VIII, who seeks to condemn Luther's transformation of penitence by describing it as fundamentally irrational. "But if any body be so mad," writes Henry, "as to believe with Luther, that he ought to Confess himself to a Woman; perhaps it may not be amiss for him also, to follow that other Opinion of Luther; in which he perswades us, not to be too careful in calling to mind our sins" (64). Shakespeare refrains from conflating the effeminization of the confessional office in Protestantism and larger doctrinal changes. But Paulina's refusal to conclude Leontes's penitence aligns her with the much derided figure of the unregulated woman. Moreover, her conflict with the male counselors in Sicilia who aim to re-impose the conventional model of penitential satisfaction makes her penitential guidance of Leontes appear unreasonable or excessive.

The exchanges between Paulina and the masculine world of Leontes's court in Act 5 demonstrate her strategy for fixing Leontes's penitential identity through her insistence on reminding him of the impossibility of satisfactorily atoning for his sin. She accomplishes this by resisting any effort by Leontes or the other nobles to forget the incomparability of Hermione. After Cleomenes claims that Leontes has "done enough, and ha[s] performed / A saint-like sorrow .../... indeed, paid down / More penitence than done tresspass" and encourages him to "[d]o as the heavens have done, forget your evil; / With them, forgive yourself," Leontes explains,
   Whilst I remember,
   Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
   My blemishes in them, and so still think of
   The wrong I did myself, which was so much
   That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and
   Destroyed the sweet'st companion that e'er man
   Bred his hopes out of. True? (5.1.1-13)

Sarah Beckwith explains the fundamental difference between Cleomenes's and Leontes's understanding of penance. Whereas Cleomenes's "language of sufficiency is cast in the language of a measurable debt, a debt which once paid permits the forgetting of evil and the forgiving of self," Leontes's understanding of "the grammar of forgiveness" causes him to realize "that he cannot forgive himself, that the grammar of forgiving yourself is in fact nonsensical" (Beckwith 133). Crucially, Paulina occupies the necessary role as the guide that secures Leontes's recognition that any atonement must be insufficient. At the same time, she disrupts the connection between forgiveness and forgetting advocated by Cleomenes and the court in an effort to ensure that Hermione's political and matrimonial place remain unchanged. The Arden editor's decision to punctuate the last line of the speech as a question, which is printed as a statement in the First Folio--"Bred his hopes of. true."--makes explicit what is suggested in the text, namely, that Leontes defers to Paulina's authority. He turns to her to confirm or deny the appropriateness of his exercise of penitential memory. Her response, "Too true, my lord," demonstrates the balance she maintains with Leontes: her direct answer to his question and elaboration of the fruitlessness of trying to replace Hermione evince her authority over Leontes even as her use of "my lord" indicates her deference to his monarchical position (5.1.12).

Paulina also resists the nobles in Leontes's court who encourage Leontes to remarry; in so doing, she assumes a role as the keeper of memory. She counters Dion's claim that she "pitfies] not the state, nor the remembrance / Of his sovereign name" (5.1.25-26) by recalling the decree of the Oracle and concluding, "'Tis your counsel / My lord should to the heavens be contrary, / Oppose against their wills" (5.1.44-46). Later in the scene, she rebukes the gentleman poet whose "verse / Flowed with [Hermione's] beauty once" after he praises the "peerless" beauty of Perdita (5.1.101-2, 94). Leontes himself validates this position when he states that Paulina "hast the memory of Hermione, / I know, in honour" (5.1.50-51). Paulina reinforces her control over the memory of Hermione when she and Leontes conjecture about what the ghost of Hermione would say if Leontes married again. Leontes pictures Hermione's ghost as "incens[ing] me / To murder her I married" (5.1.61-62); but it is Paulina who places herself in the role of the ghost, stating,
   I should so.
   Were I the ghost that walked, I'd bid you mark
   Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in't
   You chose her. Then I'd shriek that even your ears
   Should rift to hear me, and the words that followed
   Should be, "Remember mine." (5.1.62-67)

Paulina's stress on the centrality of memory makes plain how she sustains Leontes's penitential identity. She uses Leontes's memory of Hermione to revivify his guilt and grief instead of encouraging him, as the other male nobles in court do, to recognize that his penitential exercises have sufficiently atoned for his crime and, as a result, allowed him to "forget [his] evil." For Paulina, the imagined ghost of Hermione's command, "Remember mine," functions as a mechanism designed to achieve temporal stasis. By leading Leontes to remember his sins, Paulina seeks to direct him toward past grief rather than give any consideration to a post-Hermione future. (10) In effect, the shrieking of Hermione's ghost drowns out any advice that Leontes's nobles would attempt to offer. To secure this end, she uses the memory of Hermione to persuade Leontes into giving her the authority to choose his next queen, all the while securing authority through a position of feminine deference.

From the beginning of his penitential exercises, though, Leontes retains the possibility of reasserting his authority. He included the caveat that he would practice his penitential exercise "[s]o long as nature / Will bear up." Furthermore, he does not remain passive to Paulina's reminders of past sorrows. When the news of Florizel and his unnamed princess's arrival is announced, Paulina conjectures what Mamillius's joy would have been "[h]ad our prince, / Jewel of children, seen this hour" and explains the proximity in birthdates between the two princes (5.1.115-17). Anticipating his final speech toward Paulina, Leontes commands her to "cease. Thou knowest / He dies to me again when talked of' and fears that such sorrowful thoughts will "[ujnfurnish me of reason" when greeting Florizel (5.1.118-19, 122). Leontes is an obedient though not completely deferential penitent; he limits Paulina's authority when it becomes overbearing. In addition, Leontes's sending for Cantillo after sixteen years signals his retention of authority despite Paulina's elevated role. If Camillo does in fact not "o'erween to think" that "the penitent king, my master, hath sent for me, to whose feeling sorrows I might be some allay," then Leontes seeks Camillo's penitential method as the more preferable alternative to or even an escape from Paulina's (4.2.6-10). After his return to Sicilia, Camillo advises Leontes that "your sorrow was too sore laid on, / Which sixteen winters cannot blow away, / So many summers dry" (5.3.49-51). (11) Why, then, does Leontes submit to Paulina's authority and perform his penitential exercises for so long? I would posit that Leontes initially submits to Paulina because of his tremendous feeling of guilt, but then continues to defer to her authority because she has successfully interpolated herself as the mediator between the world of Leontes's court and the will of "divine Apollo" (5.1.37). This role allows Paulina the opportunity to lay claim to the masculine authority of Apollo as a counterbalance to the demands of the faction of Leontes's court that encourages him to remarry. Moreover, it validates her suspension of Leontes's penitential role, for to overcome his grief would be interpreted as a violation of Apollo's will.

In terms of the romance narrative of The Winter's Tale, Paulina can sustain her penitential model until the fulfillment of the Oracle's prophecy. Hermione's explanation that "[kjnowing by Paulina that the oracle / Gave hope [Perdita] was in being, [I] have preserved / Myself to see the issue" signals the potential (though certainly not foregone) endpoint of Paulina's spiritual authority over Leontes (5.3.126-28). Without the return of Perdita, Shakespeare offers no indication, outside of the grumbling of the Sicilian courtiers about the need for an heir, that Leontes would alter Paulina's position or that she would abate his penitence. Paulina's revelation of the statue of Hermione is the culmination of Leontes's rehabilitation, for he admits, "I am ashamed" after it "conjure[s] to remembrance" his "evils" (5.3.37, 40). Pier attempt to draw the curtain across the statue thus stands as her final act of governance over Leontes. She claims that she would "not have showed it" if she knew it "[w]ould thus have wrought you," much in the same way that she apologized earlier for reminding him of the losses; she then consents and Hermione's resurrection is witnessed by the court (5.3.58-59). Through the joyous lens of a romance conclusion, Paulina's penitential method reaches its functional end and her congratulations to the reunited couples, whom she describes as "precious winners all," signals the triumph of her interventions (5.3.131).

Shakespeare's handling of this scene, with its turn toward the miraculous and evocation of idolatry, witchcraft, and superstition, has been connected to Roman Catholic ritual practices and, more specifically, Marian devotion and memory.12 The religious heterogeneity of Shakespeare's audience rather than one "powerfully and monolithically opposed to Roman Catholicism," argues Phebe Jensen, would mark this scene as a "recuperation of the aesthetics involved in Catholic devotional practices" (304, 282). From this perspective, Paulina's orchestration of Hermione's resurrection suggests her limited participation in the habits of thought of Roman Catholicism. While Shakespeare may be resuscitating Catholic rituals on the Jacobean stage, the rapid transformation of the relationship between Leontes and Paulina indicates a much more forceful and direct reinstatement of masculine and feminine roles in the Sicilian court. Shakespeare returns to and expands upon Paulina's unwillingness to effect closure, which carries with it the undercurrent of the unregulated woman, through the depiction of her inability to overcome the loss of Antigonus. In contrast to the happy reunions at the conclusion of the play, Paulina defines her future as one of endless sorrow:
   I, an old turtle.
   Will wing me to some withered bough, and there
   My mate, that's never to be found again,
   Lament till I am lost. (5.3.132-35)

Paulina's model of lament mirrors her penitential vision for Leontes insofar as she merges her identity into a state of being--"an old turtle"--that will continue indefinitely. In the process, the image of incessant sorrow repeats the early modern commonplace that women are prone to excessive emotions and mourning. (13) Paulina's grief recalls the irrecoverable loss not simply of Antigonus, but also Mamillius, whose death is essentially forgotten and effaced amid the celebrations. This signals that her project for Leontes's interiorization of ongoing penitence is not so much fulfilled, but rather abandoned under the weight of the public reconciliation and reunion of Leontes, Hermione, and Perdita.

More explicitly, whatever authority Paulina exercised over Leontes during the sixteen-year period when Hermione was believed to be dead is immediately cast aside by Leontes's silencing of her lament and hasty matrimonial pairing with Camillo. Ready to forget the fatal consequences of his actions, Leontes interrupts Paulina's speech: "O peace, Paulina! / Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent, / As I by thine a wife" (5.3.135-37). In effect he demotes Paulina from "stage manager" to an actor in his drama of reconciliation (Woodbridge 248). Leontes here suggests a type of reciprocity between his re-marriage to Hermione and his command that she should marry Camillo. However, in contrast with Leontes's earlier permission for Paulina to speak truth to power despite the objections of the court, his command that she stop talking--"O peace, Paulina!"-indicates how he now submerges her grief under an imposed marriage and reasserts masculine governmental authority. The symmetry between Leontes's final command to Paulina, "Hastily lead away" (5.3.155), and his earlier one, "Come, and lead me / To these sorrows" (3.2.239-40), may suggest a retention of his former deference to her penitential guidance, but his confidence in the seamless reintegration of Paulina, Hermione, and Perdita into Sicilian society more strongly demonstrates a return to the status quo. Paulina's more Protestant form of penitence serves the narrative's need of sustaining Leontes and Sicily's memory and sorrow over the loss of Perdita and Hermione, but only in the interim. For Shakespeare, this model cannot be sustained because its insistence on continual sorrow subverts the dramatic reassurance that comes with the fulfillment of the Oracle and restoration of Leontes's family and its political future. Shakespearean romance depends on the forgetting that comes with penitence and forgiveness, however insufficient.

Works Cited

Anciaux, Paul. The Sacrament of Penance. Trans. Challoner Publications. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1962.

Beckwith, Sarah. Shakespeare and the Grammar of Forgiveness. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2011.

Booty, John E., ed. The Book of Common Prayer 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book. Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1976.

Bradford, John. "To Mrs. M. H.: A godly gentlewoman, comforting her in that common heaviness and godly sorrow, which the feeling and sense of sin worketh in God's children." Memoirs of the Life and Martyrdom of John Bradford. Ed. William Stevens. London, 1832.

Burton, Richard. The Anatomy of Melancholy. Ed. Thomas C. Faulkner, Nicholas K. Kiessling, and Rhonda L. Blair. 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989-1994.

Diehl, Huston. "'Does not the stone rebuke me?': The Pauline Rebuke and Paulina's Lawful Magic in The Winter's Tale." Shakespeare and the Cultures of Performance. Ed. Paul Yachnin and Patricia Badir. Burlington: Ashgate, 2008. 69-82.

Downame, John. The Christian warfare against the Deuill world and flesh werein is described their nature, the maner of their fight and meanes to obtaine victory. 2nd ed. London, 1634.

Erasmus, Desiderius. A lytle treatise in the maner and forme of confession. London, 1535.

Henry VIII, King. Assertio septem sacramentorum, or, An assertion of the seven sacraments, against Martin Luther. London, 1688.

Hooker, Richard. Folger Library Edition of The Works of Richard Hooker. Gen Ed. W. Speed Hill. 7 vols. Cambridge: Belknap P, 1977-98.

Jensen, Phebe. "Singing Psalms to Horn-Pipes: Festivity, Iconoclasm, and Catholicism in The Winter's Tale." Shakespeare Quarterly 55 (2004): 279-306.

King, John N. Foxe's "Book of Martyrs" and Early Modern Print Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006.

Luther, Martin. Letters of Spiritual Counsel. Trans, and Ed. Theodore G. Tappert. Philadelphia: Westminster P, 1960.

--, Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings. Ed. Timothy F. Lull. Minneapolis: Fortress P, 1989.

McGrath, Alister E. Luther's Theology of the Cross. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost, John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed. Merritt Y. Hughes. New York: Prentice Hall, 1957; rpt. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2003.

Shakespeare, William. The Winter's Tale. Ed. John Pitcher. Arden 3rd Series. London: Methuen, 2010.

Sherman, Anita Gilman. Skepticism and Memory in Shakespeare and Donne. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007.

Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene. Ed. A.C. Hamilton. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson, 2001.

Woodbridge, Linda. Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Womankind, 1540-1620. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1984.


I would like to thank John Cox and the members of the seminar on Shakespeare and Faith at the Hospitable Text Conference for their generous suggestions on an earlier version of this essay.

(1) See Robert Grams Hunter, Shakespeare and the Comedy of Forgiveness (New York: Columbia UR 1965) 185-203; David N. Beauregard, Catholic Theology in Shakespeare's Plays (Newark: Delaware UP, 2008) 109-23; and Beckwith 127-46.

(2) On Paulina as a shrew figure, see Bertrand Evans, Shakespeare's Comedies (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1960) 313. This interpretation dates as early as the nineteenth century; see Anna Jameson, Shakespeare's Heroines'. Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical, and Historical (London: 1876) 195.

(3) On this strategy, see D.J. Enright, Shakespeare and the Students (London: Chatto andWindus, 1970) 182.

(4) This association emerged during the medieval period; see Dyan Elliott, Proving Woman: Female Spirituality and Inquisitional Culture in the Later Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton UP 2004) 180-232.

(5) On the connection between Puritan women, spiritual doubt, and despair, see also John Stachniewski, The Persecutory Imagination: English Puritanism and the Literature of Religious Despair (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1991) 42; and Patrick Collinson, '"Not Sexual in the Ordinary Sense': Women, Men, and Religious Transactions," Elizabethans (London: Hambledon and London, 2003) 135-36.

(6) In the medieval and early modern Catholic tradition, scrupulosity continued to be a cause for concern and was addressed in penitential manuals; see Thomas N. Tentler, Sin and Confession on the Eve of the Reformation (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977) 156-61.

(7) Like the 1559 Prayer Book, Hooker goes on to advise that the scrupulous seek private absolution from a priest; see 3:101-3.

(8) On baptism as the fundamental source for forgiveness in Christian life, see Gordon Spykman, Attrition and Contrition at the Council of Trent (Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1955) 237. On Protestant pastoral encouragement to find the good in despair, see Peter Iver Kaufman, Religion Around Shakespeare (University Park: Penn State UP, 2013) ch. 4.

(9) The inclusion of Paulina's prescription of outward mortifications could be taken as a gesture toward medieval or Roman Catholic penitential practices; however, outward penances should not be taken as a distinguishing marker of religious outlook since Protestant writers in early modern England also elevated properly directed physical mortification; see Susannah Brietz Monta, Martyrdom and Literature in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005) 55-59.

(10) On Paulina's use of memory, see Gilman 65-88.

(11) Even Polixenes counsels Leontes to forgive himself: "Dear my brother, / Let him that was the cause of this have power / To take off so much grief from you as he / Will piece up in himself' (5.3.53-6).

(12) See Ruth Vanita, "Mariological Memory in The Winter's Tale and Henry VIII," Studies in English Literature 40 (2000): 320-22. 13

(13) See Elizabeth M.A. Hodgdon, "Prophecy and Gendered Mourning in Lanyer's Salve Detts Rex Judaeorum," Studies in English Literature 43 (2003): 101-16.
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Author:Stegner, Paul D.
Publication:Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature
Article Type:Essay
Date:Jun 22, 2014
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