When Leontes gazes upon the statue of his wife in the last scene of The Winter’s Tale, his initial reaction is not one of unrestrained wonder:
But yet, Paulina,
Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing
So agèed as this seems.(v, iii, 27-9)
This unblinking perception of old age inextricably blends the miraculous with a sense of loss. Despite the brilliant spectacle of a younger generation coming to maturity, Shakespeare continues to focus on the problematic situation of their parents. As in Pericles, he moves beyond the recovery of the lost child to stress the renewal of the older generation; the reunion of husband and wife culminates both plays. Not until Thaisa is recovered does Pericles proclaim: ‘You gods, your present kindness/Makes my past miseries sports’ (v, iii, 39-40). Similarly, Leontes’s redemption requires Hermione’s resurrection; Shakespeare concentrates his, and our, energies on that act by placing the father-daughter recognition scene off-stage.