This thesis, focusing on the diptych unity of Shakespeare s The Winter s Tale, examines the play from the perspective of pastoral tragicomedy. The Winter s Tale seems sharply divided into two halves; one for the most part tragic; the other principally comic; with Time standing in the middle as Chorus to announce their juncture and separation. Because of its very structure, The Winter s Tale was evaluated as two disjointed plays for centuries and condemned because of it, until its two parts and the five acts were recognized as an organic whole.
In the second half of the twentieth century, some critics introduced a new approach, which suggested to consider The Winter s Tale from the perspective of tragicomedy. In accepting The Winter s Tale as an exemplar of tragicomedy, however, we face two critical questions. The first is, how and why is The Winter s Tale a unified whole of tragicomedy and not a loose amalgamation of two composite parts, one tragic and one comic? And the second question is what is it that makes The Winter s Tale different from the rest of Shakespeare s works, which also invariably mixed elements of tragedy and comedy?
The answers to these two questions form the subject matter of this thesis, which endeavors to prove that in The Winter s Tale Shakespeare works to achieve his tragicomic ends by three methods: the pastoral principle of juxtaposition, a process of assimilation and an ultimate scheme of synthesis. The thesis also investigates how The Winter s Tale reconciles the tragicomic genre with the pastoral mode as it delineates how these two currents of the play quintessentially focus on the same distinction between, or the intricate interdependency of, opposites in nature.