Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture

Florizel: "each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing in the present deed,
That all your acts are queens." (Act 4, Scene 4)

What is all of this talk about Perdita behaving royally even though she is a shepherd's adopted daughter? This harkens back to the nature vs. nurture debate that has been going on with developmental psychology, and I think it is pretty obvious that in Shakespeare's time, they were all about nature (that the reason why you do what you do/who you are has to do with heredity) instead of taking nurture (who you are has to do with your environment) into account. I would like to argue that Perdita would have some traits of the royal family of Sicilia, but her actions would also reflect her shepherdess upbringing.


  1. Yeah! I really like when we talked about this in class, and I'm glad you posted on it. I just don't think nature can have THAT much of an influence on someone. Of course, you are a spirit child of god and who you are is already decided in some shape or form before you come to this earth, but the nature of human is to be constantly changing. There is no way Perdita could have kept herself completely untainted from the "lowly ways" of the shepherd and his son.

  2. Well, I think you two are both right. But just to be mean I think I'll play Perdita's advocate here. I often find myself repeating the mannerisms of my dad without thinking. In the way I think, especially (so my wife tells me) I am exactly like him though I never really recognized it before. I think Shakespeare is making a really good point; we are inescapably our parents' children in a lot of respects. Granted, the whole language and posture thing may be a little much. But still the point has "some sap in it"