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Title: "...not so much wrinkled, nothing so aged as this seems": The "Stone Statue" of Hermione in The Winter's Tale and Critical Feminist Gerontology
Authors: Panda, Ujjwal Kumar
Keywords: Gerontology
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Vidyasagar University , Midnapore , West Bengal , India
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English;Vol 13 No 1 [2020]
Abstract: The paper seeks to reexamine the character of Hermione in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale - her trial in the hand of the sexist patriarchal authority in Early Modern England, her transformation into a stone statue for sixteen long years and her final coming back to life from the viewpoint of Critical Feminist Gerontology. Feminist Gerontological researches form a critical perspective to analyze the conditions under which women grow older in our society and how their age is governed by the patriarchal assignations of social and gender roles. The term "old woman" carries with it the unavoidable aura of negativism as opposed to "old man". The term leads us to the unmistakable cultural association of an old woman with menopause, wrinkles, gray hair, the body, beauty and sexuality or to the biomedicalization of a senior woman in terms of her physical deterioration. From this point of view, Leontes's suspicions of his pregnant wife cheating on him with his friend, King Polixenes, is closely related to the Elizabethan assumption that women are promiscuous and unfaithful by nature ( remember Donne's assertions in "Goe, and Catche a Falling Starre" ). The construction of gendered identity in family which is basically a patriarchal construct relied largely upon the normative stereotype of women being inferior to men and set to perform the household roles and childbearing being unconditionally faithful to the patriarchal gender prerogatives. Naturally, a young woman is all flesh and the old woman is all stone. The first reaction of Leontes after Paulina unveils the curtain from Hermione's stone statue is not one of joy or remorse but a realization of her being wrinkled and aged. Hermione also accepts her fate curtly and calmly because the security of a family is important for an old woman. Her gesture refers to the unmistakable truth that the process of aging for a woman is significantly different from the process of aging for a man.
ISSN: 09733671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 13 No 1 [2020]

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