Jealousy, Adoption and Love in: the Winter's Tale and Sleeping Beauty

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Chelsea Backus
March 20, 2011
First Paper/Final Draft
Shade Gomez

Jealousy, Adoption and Love in:
The Winter’s Tale and Sleeping Beauty

When is it okay to be jealous, to be adopted or to fall in love? Lives are damaged and people killed because of the power in jealousy, adoption or love. This is proven and displayed throughout two different sources, William Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale and Walt Disney’s movie, Sleeping Beauty. Although both are very different, the movie and the play show these dominant themes. Whether the movie and play are comparing Maleficent and Leontes’ jealousy, Perdita and Aurora’s “adoption” or the love between a Prince and a peasant girl, there are many ways to claim these themes for both sources. These three elements can create disaster and heartbreak or create truth and beauty.

There are excessive definitions for the word jealousy, and various ways to be jealous of others. Shakespeare’s character Leontes is the embodiment of a covetous lover, suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival. Only his “rival” is his childhood best friend, Polixenes. Disney’s character Maleficent can be defined as one being jealous of the success of others, resentful or bitter in rivalry, in other words, envious. Because of their jealousy issues, both characters ruin the lives of others around them. Whether it is Leontes wanting Polixenes dead and his Queen in jail, or Maleficent casting a spell on the newly born princess to die on her sixteenth birthday. In the play, Leontes wants his good friend Polixenes to stay in Sicilia, so he asks his wife and Queen, Hermione to persuade him, and when she does Leontes jumps to a ridiculous conclusion leading to a response that only can direct to things getting worse:

Too hot, too hot!/ To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods./ I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances,/ But not for joy, not joy…O, that is entertainment/ My bosom likes not, nor my brows. --Mamillius,/ Art thou my boy? (1.2.108-118)

Leontes gets himself so worked up with envy, that he actually believes that he sees this invisible affair and even starts to question if Mamillius is even his son. Derek Cohen states that, “They transform sexual agony into an instrument of passionate blame in a kind of narcissistic adventure that enforces a transcendence of their known selves by actualizing a secret fear” (207). Leontes is secretly insecure causing himself to fear his wife loving another man, but because of this idea in his patriarchic mind it leads to chaos caused by his own assumptions. In the movie, Maleficent does not jump to any conclusions, however she gets angered with bitterness when she finds out that she is not invited to the celebration of Aurora’s birth. Because of this she casts a spell in which Princess Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday and die. Both Maleficent and Leontes act quickly out of spite, without thinking of any consequences.

Adoption is a small theme in both sources, however extremely essential to the story lines. In The Winter’s Tale after Hermione has her second child in jail, the baby, a little girl, is brought to Leontes to try and change his mind about the whole affair. Except the King refuses to look at the baby and he continues his rant about everyone betraying him. One of his lords begs him to reconsider burning the baby, and Leontes responds with:

Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel/And call me father? Better burn it now/ Than curse it then. But be it; let it live./ It shall not neither/… That thou carry/ This female bastard hence, and that thou bear it/ To some remote and desert place… (2.3.153-178)

Instead of deciding to burn the “female bastard” he arranges for her to be sent to a barren area leading to her becoming a part of another family. Leontes has no true reason to believe that this baby is not his, only based on assumption fumed from...
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