Let me say that I’m all about a play that says “exit pursued by a bear.” For what is worth The Winter’s Tale is not that bad of a Shakespearean comedy. It is supposed to be a later work and has some characteristics of more modern drama.
The bulk of the story isn’t too overwhelming. A king thinks his queen is fooling around, and he tries to have her and the lover killed. She supposedly dies in prison after giving birth to a girl. The baby is sentenced to death in a fairy-tale like way. A man is pursued and eaten by a bear, the princess is a shepherdess who a prince falls in love with and all’s well that ends well.
The queen, Hermione, is believed dead until the end of the play when a statue of her comes to life. In reality, she is playing like she is a statue. Shakespearean characters were nothing if not dumb in comedies.
I liked this play overall because it had a fairy-tale feel to it. The time is out-of-place. There are fictional lands. There’s the potential for magic. The love story isn’t overwhelming or over the top like in so many other comedies.
I also got a good idea for naming a short story collection from this play, but I’ll not reveal that. Another quick trivia fact is that it mentions dildos, and may be the first literary reference to such devices.
Shakespeare, you were such a bawd.