‘'An Art That Nature Makes’?: Shakespeare’s Ambiguous Garden in The Winter’s Tale

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amy Katherine Burnette (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Susan Staub

Abstract: Throughout The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare incorporates images of the garden to represent the bodies of female characters in the play. During the Early Modern period, the garden had a host of connections for readers and audiences; while writers recognized the garden as a site of amusement and pleasure, they also acknowledged it as reminiscent of a fallen Edenic paradise. Given the manner in which The Winter’s Tale links the garden with the female body, the garden trope is even more vexed, and the play thus interrogates the Early Modern garden as a site of morally ambivalent sensual pleasure. Shakespeare exploits a space where procreation is fundamental to its very existence to communicate the play’s fixation on the issues of adultery and illegitimate offspring. Through the analysis of primary texts from the period, including pamphlets, garden manuals, and engravings, it is clear that representations of the garden in The Winter’s Tale come to symbolize the major female characters in the play: Hermione, Perdita, and Paulina.

Additional Information

Burnette, A.K. (2010). ‘An Art That Nature Makes’?: Shakespeare’s Ambiguous Garden in The Winter’s Tale. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2010

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