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The Winter's Tale

William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 1

page Act 5 Scene 1 Page 3

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To LEONTES
To Leontes
Care not for issue;
55The crown will find an heir: great Alexander
Left his to the worthiest; so his successor
Was like to be the best.
Don’t worry about a son. The crown will find an heir. Great Alexander left his kingdom to the worthiest of his followers, so that his successor would be the best leader possible.

LEONTES

Good Paulina,
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
60I know, in honour, O, that ever I
Had squared me to thy counsel! then, even now,
I might have look’d upon my queen’s full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips—

LEONTES

Good Paulina, I know you honor the memory of Hermione. I wish that I had listened to you! Then I would now be able to look into my queen’s eyes and kiss her treasured lips—

PAULINA

And left them
65More rich for what they yielded.

PAULINA

And been the richer for having done so.

LEONTES

Thou speak’st truth.
No more such wives; therefore, no wife: one worse,
And better used, would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse, and on this stage,
70Where we’re offenders now, appear soul-vex’d,
And begin, ‘Why to me?’

LEONTES

You speak the truth. No wife such as that exists, so there will be no wife. For me to take a wife less perfect, and to treat her better, would make Hermione’s ghost arise again, and she’d appear here to me and say, “Why insult me like this?”

PAULINA

Had she such power,
She had just cause.

PAULINA

If she were able to, she’d be justified.

LEONTES

She had; and would incense me
75To murder her I married.

LEONTES

She would be, and she’d drive me to murder the woman I married in her place.