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On the Depiction of Time

Good day everyone!

Last week Tuesday in class we briefly talked about act 4, scene 1 in The Winter’s Tale in relation to choruses and their roles in the various plays. I soon inspired me to put down on paper what I thought Time would (or maybe should) look like in that one scene.

And this is what I came up with:
The Chorus of Time

Looking back at act 4 scene 1 we know that Time has wings: “Now take upon me, in the name of Time, / To use my wings.” (3-4)
Even though Time is the only character on stage, we do actually know the gender of Time. In the last set of lines in the scene, Time says: “If never, yet that Time himself doth say / He wishes earnestly you never may.” (31-32)

However up until that last little part I had first imagined Time as female!

Doing some more digging I found some more details on Time. Our edition of The Winter’s Tale has some nice info on pages 76-83 specifically on this topic, which also include some nice visual depictions of Time as well. It seems that Time was conventionally portrayed as a bearded old man, well, most of the time .(Haha!) Our text describes of one production in 1999, directed by Declan Donnellan, in which, it seems for the first, ahem, time, instead of a elderly bearded man, Time was, to everyone’s surprise, a youthful and attractive woman! So I was not alone!

I mean it only makes sense that Time would be young right? Since Time as a person is the personification of time, he/she should not be affected by time. Anyways…

Our text also mentions that Time carried an hourglass, as is reflected in the lines: ” Your patience this allowing, / I turn my glass, / and give my scene such growing / As you had slept between. ” (15-17) Another source I found stated that sometimes Time had a mirror instead. So in this case “glass” could be represented by either, but it seems the hourglass was more common so I went with that.

For my own personal touches, I thought that since I made her look pretty angelic, and since she is Time, I drew her halo in likeness to a clock. It turned out a lot less cheesy than I thought it would, I think.

And that’s pretty much it! Thanks for reading this far! One last thing, if you were a director, how would you portray Time? Old man? Young blonde? Something entirely different? Let me know in the comments!

-Ishmael Gowralli

The other source I found:
Rundus, Raymond J. “Time and His ‘Glass’ in The Winter’s Tale.” Shakespeare Quarterly 25.1 (1974): 123-125.