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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Is the bear in A Winter’s Tale an actual bear, or merely a man in a bear suit? And what difference would it make were it real? The essay argues that the bear could well have been a live bear as there were a number of them accessible to performances at the Globe. Further, the actuality of the bear would have called attention to the two other ‘animal’ bodies in the play, Hermione’s pregnant body in the first three acts, and her real, aged body in the statue scene in Act 5. The reality of the bear would then have stressed the otherwise critically overlooked insistence by the play on the non-artificial nature of embodied creativity in female parturition and the acceptance of the force of time on human physicality, in direct contrast to the male-dominated creativity of The Tempest, in which art is magic and not at all natural.

Keywords: Winter’s Tale, animal studies, pregnancy, art, nature

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