Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  23 / 148 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 23 / 148 Next Page
Page Background

“There is no tongue that moves”


healing process mimics that of alchemy: “Alchemy, imitating

the natural generation of diverse species, achieves the

conversion of base


into perfect


metals and thus resembles medicine, for it replaces disease by

health” (Pagel, 1982: 260).

So it is only when Leontes suffers the loss of his son, who

may represent his double or alter-ego, as well as (he thinks) his

wife, is he freed from the feelings of anger and jealousy that he

himself generated, and thus able to recognize and appreciate

Paulina’s role as his newly-licensed physician, one now granted

by him the right to speak freely as she recounts his many

foolish acts. Paulina is, for the first time, allowed to speak

before Leontes and his court, not as a woman but as the king’s

healer: a person to be greatly respected and even revered. We

know Leontes has come to trust her when he says: “Go on, go

on. / Thou canst not speak too much. I have deserved / All

tongues to talk their bitt’rest” (3.2.209).

Now more aware of her status as a licensed physician and

noting the king’s first signs of repentance, Paulina apologizes

to her patient

“Alas, I have showed too much / The rashness

of a woman!” 3.2.216)

and replaces her radical treatment

with a much milder one, which prevents the desperate Leontes

from becoming infected with another emotional plague. Now,

instead of telling him the truth about the status of his wife, she

lies to him: “I say she’s dead. I’ll swear’t. If word nor oath /

Prevail not, go and see” 3.2.198-99). Paulina believes that this


telling the king that his queen is dead

will allow

the three “injured” family members to undergo certain

transformations in order to be healed. Her deception creates

the space and time that healing requires.

While the mother (Hermione) and daughter (Perdita) are

kept alive and free from any interference or infection, the

former preserved by Paulina in her secret shrine and the latter

on a remote island, the king is also sustained in a state of