Modes, Moods, and Musical Puns in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale


  • Deanna Smid Brandon University


“What did the music in Act 5, Scene 3 of The Winter’s Tale sound like?” The question is, of course, unanswerable with any certainty. Yet using the early modern theory of musical modes and their affective nature on mood, critics of the play can make educated guesses about the sound of the music that resurrects the statue of Hermione. The mode of the music may then suggest that Paulina is using a musical pun at the end of the play to chide Leontes and the audience for their suspicions about her actions.

Author Biography

Deanna Smid, Brandon University

Deanna Smid is an Assistant Professor of English at Brandon University. She recently completed a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at the University of Toronto, and is now completing a monograph, The Imagination in Early Modern English Literature, to be published by Brill. Her research interests include music and song in early modern English literature, which she explores in her recent article published in Renaissance and Reformation, “Broken Lutes and Passionate Bodies in A Woman Killed with Kindness.”