Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Question of Duty

Share it Please
In reading The Winter's Tale, I liked focusing on how the text fit into what is typical of the Romance Genre. Having taken a Romance class, I have studied other texts of Romance and it was interesting to see how this one was a Romance, and yet, what made it uniquely its' own. The Winter's Tale has many references to honor, especially versus the love that one character may feel. In the case of the hidden princess, Perdita, and the prince, Florizel, we see Florizel dealing with choosing whether he should follow his love or his duty. In fact, in speaking to Perdita, he states, "I'll be thine, my fair, / Or not my father's"(IV.iv.42-43). In this, he describes how the marriage will make him go against his father, so he can be with her.

 This idea that love and honor cannot coexist is also present in the Italian Romance, Orlando Furioso, by Ariosto. In the story, a female warrior, Bradamante, finds herself torn between her love of an Islamic man, Ruggiero, and her duty to her Christianty. Ruggiero, as well, feels this duty of staying true to his religion, or accepting the love he wants. In both cases, both sets of characters have to choose between what is correct, their duty or their love. However, in both cases, we also learn that rather than being in opposition, their duty and love align with each other. Ruggiero later learns his duty IS to convert to Christianity and his love helps him achieve this. Florizel learns that his duty is to help Perdita find her way home, so that her true identity may be discovered. After, they both can honor their duty, by marrying royalty, and still honor the love they share. Now, this idea is something that is not commonly found in Romances. Generally, duty and love do not line up. In fact, this creates a large conflict in many Romances. And yet, both of these stories contain these moments.

It would be highly interesting to compare and contrast these ideas of duty and love, and see what one could make out of this. In research, I would first like to see if Shakespeare had any knowledge of Orlando Furioso, as it was published 100 years earlier. And, I would also look into researching if there are any other stories that break the mold on duty and honor. 

1 comment:

  1. Kate, this is an interesting topic. I like the idea of analyzing the genre of the play in an effort to understand it better. You may look out for similar ideas as we read the tempest. It would be interesting to compare and contrast similar ideas in the two plays. As it relates to The Winter's Tale, luckily, I just barely posted a line from Paulina that says, "Commit me for committing honor." Paulina loves the queen and the baby Perdita more than her "duty" to obey the king. She sees higher honor in disobeying the king than honor in obeying him. You may use this to show similar ideas in the more "tragic" elements of the play.