‘Strike All that Look Upon With Marvel’: Theatrical and Theological Wonder in The Winter’s Tale

  • Huston Diehl


‘Nowhere,’ Jonathan Bate writes of the final scene in The Winter’s Tale, ‘is there a creative coup more wonderful.’1 Indeed, Paulina’s carefully orchestrated unveiling of the marvelous statue astonishes, perplexes, and surprises, holding on-stage spectators and theater audiences alike rapt with wonder. But if Shakespeare seeks, with Paulina, to ‘strike all that look upon’ his spectacle ‘with marvel,’ he also self-reflexively explores the nature of theatrical wonder itself in this play.2 Contrasting the admiration aroused by Paulina’s wondrous statue with that elicited by Autolycus’s dazzling but duplicitous theatrics, he raises compelling questions about the role of trickery, sense perception, and collective desire in the production of theatrical wonder. He asks, too, why verbal accounts reporting the ‘admiration,’ ‘notable passion of wonder,’ and ‘deal of wonder’ aroused when Perdita’s true identity is discovered fail to produce the feelings of wonder they describe (5.2.10, 13–14, 21). And, by invoking the language of religious awe at the dramatic unveiling of the statue, he entertains a relation between theological and theatrical wonder.


Christian Religion Creative Power Henry VIII Medieval Church Roman Catholic Priest 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huston Diehl

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