Taken on a purely literal level, the ideas involved in this scene are ludicrous: that nobody would recognize that the statue of Leonte’s wife who has supposedly been dead for sixteen years is real, that Hermione would allow herself to be imprisoned for sixteen years, and that Leontes would make a vow to a servant to never remarry. It definitely crosses the line into one of those soap opera plot devices; like when Tad Martin appeared to be die at the hands of Billy Joe Tuggle on All My Children, only to come back from the grave.
So while John Wayne fulfilled a need to play a tough western or war movie star, virtually playing the same character over and over again, during Elizabethan times there were also actors who were always called upon to play the slapstick role or the villain or the romantic lead.
One of the best comedies of the 1980s, “Diner,” is about to get new life…
It is also important to understand that the downfall of Lady Macbeth occurs only after she has done the opposite by making the decision to finally begin questioning her amorality. Lady Macbeth only begins to lose her mind once she capitulates to the kind of moral quandary from which she earlier plucked her husband. In the wife’s case it is the decision to think too much that leads to insanity.
The present is merely an unfortunate blip on the radar of denial they have each built. The subtle implication is one of emotional heredity; the fact that both Tom and Laura follow their mother down the path of retreating from reality suggests that it is the family dynamic itself that is most responsible for the dysfunctional state of most households.