The Winter’s Tale. Influences & traditions. 1. Pandosto: The triumph of time Robert Greene (1588).
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Influences & traditions
Thus the interest in this is not the outcome, but how we reach that outcome - particularly how the crucial discovery of princess-ness will be made.
- It is a representation of the end of winter and the beginning of summer (if sheep are not sheared as summer starts, they start slowly loosing their wool)
- It is a representation of continuity, the cycle of the seasons
- It is a representation of the bounty of nature, and thus connected with fertility rights
Sheep-shearing is a communal event. Traditionally, groups of farmers would gather together to shear each other's sheep, since quite large numbers are required (I have myself taken part in such a sheep-shearing 'bee').
The shearing also involved women and children, not only in the obvious roles of providing food and drink to the men shearing, but also in the organization and movement of bringing the sheep to the shearers (and if Welsh rural experience is anything to go by, there were probably women shearers anyway).