What does "what was bequeath'd to Joan" mean in William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I cannot find any such quote in "Winter's Tale" or in any other Shakespeare play (using a site where you can search every Shakespeare work).

To bequeath, means to leave something to some one, as in a will.  So if there were such a line in the poem, it would mean that someone had left something to Joan in their will.

In "Winter's Tale," there is only one place where "bequeath" or any form of that word shows up.  Here is that line:

I'll fill your grave up: stir, nay, come away,
Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him
Dear life redeems you.

In this case, bequeath is being used figuratively.  It means here that the person being spoken to should leave her numbness to death -- let him have it and come away and live.

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The Winter's Tale

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