Seasons: A midsummer night’s feast?

If in The Winter’s Tale, our narrative starts during a Sicilian winter (when a “sad tale’s best” [II.i.25]), then when do we get our conclusion?

Now, the natural assumption would be spring. After all, many see sheep shearings as a springtime activity. And Florizel describes Perdita’s festival clothing as being like those of “Flora / Peering in April’s front” (IV.iv.2-3). Here, though, April is a more a description of Flora’s appearance than the current season of the year.

However, I don’t think that it’s spring in Act Four.

First, sheep shearing can happen at any time of year. Plus, Perdita bemoans her lack of “some flowers o’ the spring” (IV.iv.113) for Florizel, and must give Polixenes and Camillo “flowers / Of middle summer” (IV.iv.106-7). But the best evidence for the time of year also comes from Perdita: “Sir, the year growing ancient, / Not yet on summer’s death nor on the birth / Of trembling winter” (IV.iv.79-81).

Thus, Act Four of The Winter’s Tale gives us a Bohemian midsummer…

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