The Winter's Tale Contents
- Shakespeare, William
- 1564 - 1582: William Shakespeare's Stratford Beginnings
- 1582 - 1592: William Shakespeare's Marriage, Parenthood and Early Occupation
- 1592 - 1594: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 1
- 1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 2
- 1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 3
- 1611 - 1616: William Shakespeare - Back to Stratford
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- The Theatre
- Ideas of nature
- The pastoral tradition
- The seasons
- Natural and unnatural development
- The nature of humanity
- The higher powers
- Spiritual re-creation
- The plays and playing
The royal plural
Another mode of address, used historically and in Shakespeare, but for which there is really no modern equivalent, is the ‘royal plural' – that is, the monarch using the plural form ‘we' or ‘us' to refer to himself.
This stems from the fact that the ruler (usually a king rather than a Queen) was seen as the representative of, almost the embodiment of, the whole state, or country.
When Leontes is acting most tyrannically, condemning the baby to be exposed in ‘some remote and desert place', he uses the royal plural to enforce his right to obedience (incidentally also addressing Antigonus as ‘thee', underlining his inferiority):
This female bastard hence...'.
This use of language would immediately reinforce th's position for his courtiers – and for Shakespeare's audience.
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