What's gone and what's past help

"What's gone and what's past help
Should be past grief."

The Winter's Tale (III, ii, 223-224 )

Paulina, a loyal friend of Queen Hermione, has apologized for her condemnation of King Leontes, whose insane jealousy has brought great unhappiness and despair to his kingdom. Her outburst comes at the apparent death of Hermione, who had been standing trial for unfounded charges of treason and infidelity, and who has just learned of her ill son's death. Hermione faints, is carried away, and Paulina returns to announce that the innocent queen has died. She goes on to catalog Leontes' horrible deeds: betraying his friend Polixenes, damning Camillo for refusing to poison Polixenes, accusing Hermione of unfaithfulness, casting their newborn child into the wild to be eaten by animals, allowing his older son to die, and now killing Hermione herself. Leontes is horrified by his acts at last, and Paulina feels a momentary respite from her own rage, apologizing for being so harsh with the repentent king in this tragi-comedy. She will, however, upon his request, continue to remind him of his horrible deeds for years and years to come.

Themes: repentance and prayer, anguish

Speakers: Paulina

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