The pastoral scene in the play The Winter’s Tale is a significant scene in the play and brings the freshness of rural life of English countryside with its joy and mirth. Dr. Furnivall points out that Shakespeare blends “his Stratford neighbours at their sheepshearing and country sports enjoying the vagabond pedlar’s gammon and talk, delighting in the sweet Warwickshire maidens, and buying the ‘fairings’, telling goblin stories to the boys, and opening his heart afresh to all the innocent mirth and the beauty of the nature around”. The freshness of the scene is further enlivened by the fairy-tale romance of young beautiful Perdita, ‘the prettiest lowborn lass, the Queen of curds and cream” or the ‘Flora peeping in April’s front’ and young handsome Florizel. son of King Polixenes disguised as Doricles, a shepherd.
Scene iv of Act V of the play. The Winter’s Tale is the longest and excellent, original pastoral scene from Shakespeare. It opens before the shepherd’s cottage in Bohemia. Perdita, as the hostess, with old shepherd and his son, the clown are celebrating sheepshearing festival, usually held in England after the winter when the season becomes warm. Florizel, King Polixenes and Camillo are present in the feast disguised as shepherds. The scene opens with a romantic dialogue between Perdita and Florizel. Perdita is dressed as a beautiful Queen by Florizel. She feels ashamed of FlorizeFs shabby shepherd’s clothes for she knows he is a prince. But Florizel reminds her that in love even Apollo changed himself to a shepherd like him. So he is happy with his disguise for his love, Perdita a shepherdess quite ignorant about her royal descent. Both love each other sincerely, though Perdita is apprehensive as to the consequences of her love, when the King comes to know about his son’s love for a humble shepherdess. But Florizel assures her that in all circumstances he will stand by his love. She should not grieve and spoil the feast. Old sliepherd also scolds Perdita and asks her to attend to the guests in proper spirit, move about sing and dance in the joyful spirit of the feast. Perdita then joins the festival in spirit and offers flowers to welcome the guests. She offers rosemary and rue to Polixenes and Camillo. Polixenes points out that they are winter flowers. Perdita replies that caranations and striped gillyours. the bastard flowers for they require ‘grafting” to develop into artistic flowers. She does not like ‘grafting’ so she has no such flowers in her rustic garden. The scene describes her love for flowers and her wish to offer daffodils and other flowers suitable to the age of young shepherds and shepherdesses. The scene enlivens with the singing, dancing and ballads and songs of Autolycus disguised as a pedlar selling petty things and also picking pockets of simple rustics. The clown buys several ballads from the rogue for his beloved Mopsa.
Love of Perdita and Florizel
Perdita and Florizel love each other sincerely. They are quite happy. The old shepherd is also quite pleased with their love-affair. Polixenes is also anxious to fathom the love of Florizel for Perdita. Florizel tells his father that he prizes his love for Perdita above everything in his life and the world. The old shepherd then proposes that it is time to announce the betrothal of the two in the presence of venerable gentlemen. But Polixenes stops him and asks Florizel if he has the consent of his father. Florizel says that he does not need it and requests the respectable gentlemen to announce their ‘contract’. Polixenes is in rage and throws away his disguise. He decries down Florizel that he would deprive him of accession to the throne of Bohemia if he marries low-born Perdita. He threatens Perdita that he would have her beauty ‘scratched with briers’ if she continued her love with Florizel. He even threatens the old shepherd with dire consequence if he allowed them to meet in his cottage. Everybody is surprised at the sudden development. King leaves in anger and asks Camillo to bring the prince to the court with him.
Perdita is confused and asks the prince to forget her. But Florizel asserts that he remains with his love and declares that he will marry Perdita. He would renounce his accession and be ‘heir to my affection’. He asks Perdita to escape with him. Camillo is moved by the sincerity of their love and suggests that they should go to Sicilia and King Leontes. He gives them a letter and assures them that regenerated Leontes would welcome them and help them. Florizel agrees to follow the plan and they rush to the port. In the way they meet Autolycus and Camillo asks Florizel to change his clothes with Autolycus. Florizel follows Camillo’s instructions and changes his clothes. Both Florizel and Perdita board a ship to Sicilia.
Perdita’s royalty revealed
The old shepherd and his son. the clown are also scared. The clown suggests to his father that he can go to the court and reveal that Perdita is not his daughter. He found her with casket of royal jewels and gold and picked up the infant. In that case King won’t punish them. Both agree to proceed but meet Autolycus wearing prince’s clothes and mistake him for a courtier. They offer him gold if he could approach the King for their pardon. Autolycus takes advantage of their stupidity and takes them to the ship travelling to Sicilia. Florizel and Perdita are also in the ship. Camillo persuades Polixenes that they should follow Florizel to Sicilia. Thus Camillo plans to bring Polixenes to reach the court of his friend, Leontes. He is interested in bringing all of them to the court of Sicilia. At Sicilia in Act V forgiveness and reconciliation is effected through a natural process.
Forgivesness and reconciliations
Act IV provides comic relief to the first three tragic Acts of the play. And besides refreshing relief and humour it paves the way for ‘reconciliation’ of Leontes with his family and friend. In the first place, the true identity of Perdita is revealed through the royal jewels and Antigonus’ note that she is the lost daughter of Hermione and Leontes. Leontes is very glad to meet her; and Polixenes is also very happy to know that Perdita is not low-born. She is the daughter of his old friend. Leontes sees Hermione in Perdita when he looks at her in his court with Florizel. Florizel and Perdita are betrothed. Paulina carries all of them to her place to witness a life-size statue of Hermione. The statue turns out to be Hermione alive. Hermione forgives regenerated Leontes and embraces him. The play ends on a happy note.
A scene of romantic love
Thus Act IV is not only a wonderful pastoral scene, but also a scene of romantic love between two happy young lovers—Florizel and Perdita. Their love further leads to final reconcilation after Polixenes’ angry outburst against his son, Florizel and pretty low-born Perdita. Their sincere love makes the two escape with the help of Camillo to Sicilia. Sixteen years after the incident when Leontes declared his daughter a bastard and ordered Antigonus to leave her to die by rigours of nature, the oracle comes true. The lost daughter is found at the same place, Sicilia”s court-– Perdita, the shepherdess-and reconciliation results. The play ends as a romantic comedy. In this way Act IV. scene iv is the most significant scene of the play. The Winter’s Tale