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The Winter's Tale

William Shakespeare

Characters

Short Summary

Act I, Scenes i-ii

Leontes -  The King of Sicilia, and the childhood friend of the Bohemian King Polixenes. He is gripped by jealous fantasies, which convince him that Polixenes has been having an affair with his wife, Hermione; his jealousy leads to the destruction of his family.
Hermione -  The virtuous and beautiful Queen of Sicilia. Falsely accused of infidelity by her husband, Leontes, she apparently dies of grief just after being vindicated by the Oracle of Delphi, but is restored to life at the play's close.
Perdita -  The daughter of Leontes and Hermione. Because her father believes her to be illegitimate, she is abandoned as a baby on the coast of Bohemia, and brought up by a Shepherd. Unaware of her royal lineage, she falls in love with the Bohemian Prince Florizel.
Polixenes -  The King of Bohemia, and Leontes's boyhood friend. He is falsely accused of having an affair with Leontes's wife, and barely escapes Sicilia with his life. Much later in life, he sees his only son fall in love with a lowly Shepherd's daughter—who is, in fact, a Sicilian princess.
Florizel -  Polixenes's only son and heir; he falls in love with Perdita, unaware of her royal ancestry, and defies his father by eloping with her.
Camillo -  An honest Sicilian nobleman, he refuses to follow Leontes's order to poison Polixenes, deciding instead to flee Sicily and enter the Bohemian King's service.
Paulina -  A noblewoman of Sicily, she is fierce in her defense of Hermione's virtue, and unrelenting in her condemnation of Leontes after Hermione's death. She is also the agent of the (apparently) dead Queen's resurrection.
Autolycus -  A roguish peddler, vagabond, and pickpocket; he steals the Clown's purse and does a great deal of pilfering at the Shepherd's sheepshearing, but ends by assisting in Perdita and Florizel's escape.
Shepherd -  An old and honorable sheep-tender, he finds Perdita as a baby and raises her as his own daughter.
Antigonus -  Paulina's husband, and also a loyal defender of Hermione. He is given the unfortunate task of abandoning the baby Perdita on the Bohemian coast.
Clown -  The Shepherd's buffoonish son, and Perdita's adopted brother.
Mamillius -  The young prince of Sicilia, Leontes and Hermione's son. He dies, perhaps of grief, after his father wrongly imprisons his mother.
Cleomenes -  A lord of Sicilia, sent to Delphi to ask the Oracle about Hermione's guilt.
Dion -  A Sicilian lord, he accompanies Cleomenes to Delphi.
Emilia -  One of Hermione's ladies-in-waiting.
Archidamus -  A lord of Bohemia.

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Not a Miracle, but a Trick

by kcmurdarasi, August 18, 2012

The statue of Hermione at Paulina's house is not a real statue that comes to life by a miracle, it is actually Hermione herself. King Leontes thought she was dead (he had seen her 'corpse' - in reality just her unconscious body) but in fact she had been concealed by Paulina for the last sixteen years.

There are lots of hints the in preceeding scenes that Hermione is in fact alive. Pauline makes sure the King promises to marry no-one except a woman she shall choose, who shall be as good as the late Queen - although, of course, no such ... Read more

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The Best of Shakespeare's Comedies.

by ReadingShakespearefor450th, March 11, 2013

This play is great: engaging, funny, sad, thoughtful. Lots of great characters—mostly good—including my nominee for best comic relief character (“Autolycus, a rogue”) in a Shakespearean comedy.

I'm reading, reacting to and blogging on all Shakespeare plays by his 450th in April 2014. See my blog on "The Winter's Tale":

http://ow.ly/iLi7x

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1 out of 2 people found this helpful

No Fear?

by LateKait, February 04, 2014

Is there a No Fear coming any time soon for The Winter's Tale? Pretty please!

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2 out of 2 people found this helpful

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