I'm inching towards completing my project of reading all of Shakespeare's plays in order. I'm looking at almost two years since I started this project, but having finished watching the BBC's The Winter's Tale earlier this week, the end is definitely in sight.
My assessment of the play is that Shakespeare is taking another run at Othello--this time however, Leontes plays both the part of Othello (the jealous husband) and Iago (the one who puts distrust in his heart). Having Leontes's own imagination and insecurity be at the root of his jealousy is closer to the norm of the human condition. Harkening back to Julius Caesar, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." I've loved this quote since I first read it in 10th grade, and in The Winter's Tale Shakespeare drives it home again.
In this Othello story, however, Shakespeare saves Hermione instead of letting Leontes really kill her as Othello kills Desdemona. She is the angel resurrected, the mother restored, the home restored...it bothered me though, that her son really was gone. She regained her daughter, and Leontes regained his wife, but their son was lost to them.
I wonder whether there will ever be an attempt to do a film version of this play. More than most, people seem to either love it or dislike it (i.e., disparage it as a problem play--two stories held together by a tenuous connection). I'm toying with the idea of reading Pandosto, Shakespeare's source for the story, but that idea will probably fall by the wayside this time round.