Shakespeare's winter of discontent

Does the line “Now is the winter of my discontent…” mean that the discontent is at it’s lowest or about to end? That’s what would be suggested by the following lines, but the quote is never used to suggest that meaning. In other words, if now is the winter of your discontent, doesn’t that mean things are going well?

No. It means that for the Yorkists, recent events have been miserable and bitter like winter weather. But now it’s a glorious summer.

It’s a single phrase meaning “Now our winter of discontent has been made summer by this son of York.”

People tend to view the two lines separately, but they’re all one thought.

BTW, “son of York” is one of Shakespeare’s puns. Edward IV (a son of York) had as a personal symbol was “the sun in splendor” (three suns in the sky, referring to an event before a major victory). I’ve seen it written as “sun of York,” which works just as well as a pun.

Now is the Winter of our Discontent,
Made glorious Summer by this Son of Yorke:
And all the clouds that lowr’d vpon our house
In the deepe bosome of the Ocean buried.
Now are our browes bound with Victorious Wreathes,
Our bruised armes hung vp for Monuments;
Our sterne Alarums chang’d to merry Meetings;
Our dreadfull Marches, to delightfull Measures.
Grim-visag’d Warre, hath smooth’d his wrinkled Front:
And now, in stead of mounting Barbed Steeds,
To fright the Soules of fearfull Aduersaries,
He capers nimbly in a Ladies Chamber,
To the lasciuious pleasing of a Lute.
But I, that am not shap’d for sportiue trickes,
Nor made to court an amorous Looking-glasse:
I, that am Rudely stampt, and want loues Maiesty,
To strut before a wonton ambling Nymph:
I, that am curtail’d of this faire Proportion,
Cheated of Feature by dissembling Nature,
Deform’d, vn-finish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing World, scarse halfe made vp,
And that so lamely and vnfashionable,
That dogges barke at me, as I halt by them.
Why I (in this weake piping time of Peace)
Haue no delight to passe away the time,
Vnlesse to see my Shadow in the Sunne,
And descant on mine owne Deformity.
And therefore, since I cannot proue a Louer,
To entertaine these faire well spoken dayes,
I am determined to proue a Villaine,
And hate the idle pleasures of these dayes.

Would “winter of coldness” mean that it’s warm out? No. Neither does “winter of discontent” mean everything’s peachy.

No, but by “winter” I believe he means that spring is about to follow, i.e. Our discontent is almost over.

Yes. Wheelz. That’s what my question is. Doesn’t “the winter of our discontent” mean it’s almost over?

And Chronos, with all due respect (and I do mean that), your literalism evades my question.

No, he means it is over. As the play opens, the long civil war between the Lancastrians and Yorkists has recently ended, with Henry VI (Lancaster) and his son Edward both dead (both by the hand of Richard of Gloucester himself, at the end of the play Henry VI, Part 3), and Richard’s brother Edward IV (York) triumphant.

Thanks for the responses.

IOW, the summer of our discontent would be the height of it. When we are are most discontent. The winter of our discontent means it’s dead and we are about to move on.

To understand the meaning of the phrase you have to look at the whole sentence:

“Now is the winter of our discontent,
Made glorious summer by this son of York;”

What he’s saying is “In the midst of defeat, the son of York has given us victory!”

Here’s the most interesting film versionof that scene imo.

But doesn’t that mean, now is the ending of our discontent?

It means “Whoa! What a fustercluck of a few years that was, thank God they’re over with and nothing but blue skies ahead now that my big brother’s at the helm.”

OK guys. I think I’m starting to get it. The “now” part refers more to the made glorious part. Aaah that makes sense. Thanks all for your knowledge and patience. I can always count on you. Knew the lines but had to have the interpretation crammed down my head.

I understand your meaning, Flipshod, but “winter” is a description of what their discontent feels like. He’s not saying discontent moves through seasons and now it’s in a wintry status, meaning it’s almost over.

EDIT: Right then. Well, neither a borrower nor a lender be and watch where you put your jerkin.

And your gherkin!

Rearrange the words to this: “The winter of our discontent is now made glorious summer by this son [sun] of York”. Clearer, yes. Poetry, no.

And naturally the sun overcomes “all the clouds that lowered upon our house”.

Or simply, “Now the winter of our discontent is made …” It’s that placement of the word “is” that threw me off. Now is the moment of my ignorance successfully fought.

For perspective, this is howNo Fear Shakespeare(a marvelous tool for reading Shakespeare) translates that in the side by side: