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the legal history of the period. David Underdown, after

examining local English court records from the period between

1560 and 1640, found that there was “an intense

preoccupation with women who are a visible threat to the

patriarchal system,” (1985: 119) including those considered as

scolds, witches, or whores.

Therefore we note that the trial scene, wherein Hermione

is accused of adultery by her husband, reminds us of other

courtroom scenes of this period which are equally important in

the early modern European history of medicine. In these scenes,

we see that the stigmatized

female healers

are needed by the

society for their proven curative skills and yet they are also

confined and condemned by the patriarchal authorities. This

paper, in order to explore the marginalized identity of female

healers in sixteenth-century England, will primarily focus on

Paulina in

The Winter’s Tale

, for her explicit role is that of a

female healer. Although initially defined and stigmatized as a

witch, Paulina became a celebrated female physician, thereby

crossing traditional gender-socio-political boundaries. Later in

the play, Paulina’s


work both magically and

therapeutically to transform King Leontes’s diseased speech

into what sounds like repentance, and to animate or

“resurrect” the marble statue of Hermione

whom we thought

had died much earlier, though in fact Paulina had protected

her from her deranged husband by preserving her life and

deceiving him.

Keeping in mind the early modern European history of

medicine, in the case of Hermione’s revivification we may

speak of the Paracelsian iatrochemical transmutation of

lead/death into gold/life. Paulina’s “curing” words are like an

alchemical cauldron that restores the spiritual-and-physical

well-being of the


, the

public body

, as well as of individual

male and female “rhetoric-infected” bodies. Scholars have not

really focused on the role of female healers (in particular