renewal, the countryside and pastoral tradition standing in massive contrast to the Leontes' sick court. Art on the other hand does not play such a large part, the only example of high art being the statue by "nature's ape", Julio Romano, which is not a statue at all. The opposition of nature and art should be divided into two others. The first is that of the court and the country, the sophisticated and the simple, which reflects upon the idea of nobility (conceived of as "natural"), especially when the Shepherd and Clown are made into gentlemen. The second is between honesty and disguise, especially apparent in Perdita who dislikes "playing a part" because she sees it as a kind of lying. In this she is rather like her father, who also has problems with playing, and with having a part, the very nexus of an individual's relation to the group.

Leontes and Autolycus are similar in that their participation in a group is destructive or deceitful. Leontes thinks he can perceive the truth better than anyone else, and his superior sense only creates unhappiness. Autolycus has more "sense" than the sheepshearers, and that is why he can rob them while they are all held "senseless" (but together) by his music. The difference is that Autolycus' villainy is picaresque where Leontes' is destructive, and Autolycus uses artifice where Leontes only has delusion. Perdita is a figure who is naturally artful, she has a grace that exemplifies what art and nobility should be, without any self- consciousness, which makes her natural. She can also be seen as an achievement of Shakespeare's poetry, in which case the ethical aspect of the nature / art opposition concerns Shakespeare himself and his art, which the audience can condone or condemn as "false". This approach is supported by the way the word "piece" is used in the romances to refer to women. Perdita is a "fresh piece of excellent witchcraft" (4.4.423), "the most peerless piece of earth... That e'er the sun shone on" (5.1.94-5), while the statue of Hermione is "a piece many years in doing and now newly performed by that rare Italian master, Julio Romano" (5.2.94-6). The effect is to make the heroine of the romance a synecdoche of theatrical performance itself, something seductive, both true and not true, something and nothing.

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