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including the men that are closest to them


threatened. Healing is disguised as a form of deception in


Winter’s Tale

. Deception is never a negative strategy, a way of

defeating or taking advantage of others for the healer Paulina,

as it can be a form of art that transforms the living into that

which appears to be dead, or which “recreates” the appearance

of death. This art first covers (conceals), then separates (life

from death), and finally presents (new) life

the moment of


If Hermione’s (re)birth appears to be holy or divine as

well as magical, there perhaps is an apocalyptic revelation in

Shakespeare’s final scene here: women’s wit, though as

mysterious and uncontrollable as nature, can also heal as

powerfully as nature when it crosses the boundary set

arbitrarily by jealous male competitors.

IV. Conclusion

Shakespeare ends

The Winter’s Tale

with Paulina’s

resurrection of the “dead” Hermione, just as the author

resurrected the images of wise women


or women healers in

an era when the practice of medicine was controlled and

circumscribed by male physicians. In Shakespeare’s view, those

“professional” male physicians have failed to provide truly

effective remedies because their knowledge was mostly based


William Kerwin has pointed out that women’s acts of healing are generally

absent from the stage of Shakespearean London. He notes that in

An Index

of Characters in English Printed Drama to the Restoration

, there is “only 1

character under the rubric of ‘wise woman’ and 18 listed as ‘midwife,’

compared with 104 under ‘doctor’ and 60 under ‘physician’” (2005: 63).

Kerwin assumes that the absence of historical wise women “seems to be

another instance of the [Shakespearean] drama eliminating a part of early

modern women’s life from the stage” (242). However, in

A Winter’s Tale

Shakespeare seems to give his women healers an unusual degree of

authority and power.