The Centrality of Mamillius to "The Winter's Tale" Book Review by Peter Pen

The Centrality of Mamillius to "The Winter's Tale"
An analysis of the character of Mamillius in "The Winter Tale" by William Shakespeare.
# 103316 | 2,686 words | 10 sources | MLA | 2008

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This paper discusses the centrality of the character of Mamillius, the young prince in William Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale." It shows how Mamillius figures prominently in the play before meeting his premature death early in the third act. The paper discusses how Shakespeare make his character the focal point for the underlying discourses at work in the play.

From the Paper:

"Though critics have often conceived of Mamillius as either insignificant or significant only insofar as he functions as a solution to the problems posed by Leontes, here Mamillius proves as problematic as his father. In one account, Mamillius is a source of idealized nostalgia for Leontes, but only as a kind of defense mechanism, so that the boy is at once a fantasy into which the father escapes and a reality from which he recoils--a security blanket as much as he is a threat. In the other, Mamillius is merely a mirror or lens through which to see his father, a simulacrum of Leontes provided to underline by resemblance and contrast the father's character traits. In the former reading Mamillius is a source of Leontes' rage; in the latter he points to Leontes himself as the source. The interpretations seem incompatible, but the language and structure of The Winter's Tale provide a framework in which to hold them both."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Bishop, T.G. Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 125-175.
  • Cavell, Stanley. Disowning Knowledge: In Six Plays of Shakespeare. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. 1-37, 193-221.
  • Cutts, John P. "Boy Eternal." Rich and Strange: A Study of Shakespeare's Last Plays. Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press, 1968. 54-83.
  • Frye, Northrop. "Shakespeare's Romances: The Winter's Tale." Northrop Frye on Shakespeare. Ed. Robert Sandler. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1986. 154-70.
  • Garber, Marjorie. Shakespeare After All. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004. 827-851.

Cite this Book Review:

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The Centrality of Mamillius to "The Winter's Tale" (2008, May 02) Retrieved December 09, 2019, from

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"The Centrality of Mamillius to "The Winter's Tale"" 02 May 2008. Web. 09 December. 2019. <>