Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: The Winter’s Tale
- When Written: 1611
- Where Written: England
- When Published: 1623
- Literary Period: The Renaissance (1500-1660)
- Genre: Drama, Comedy, Tragicomedy
- Setting: Sicilia (the island of Sicily) and Bohemia (where the modern-day Czech Republic is)
- Climax: The plot is essentially split into two halves, and each can be seen as having its own climax. The first half of the play climaxes when Mamillius dies and Hermione appears to die, causing Leontes to realize his tragic error in assuming Hermione’s guilt. The second half of the play climaxes when Perdita’s true identity is revealed, Leontes’ and Polixenes’ families are reunited, and Hermione miraculously comes back to life.
- Antagonist: Leontes is the antagonist for most of the early parts of the play. His obsessive jealousy leads to the deaths of Mamillius and Hermione, and Perdita and Camillo’s having to leave Sicilia. Toward the end of the play, Polixenes is to some degree the antagonist, as he forbids Florizell from marrying Perdita, forces Florizell to flee Bohemia, and threatens to kill the shepherd and his son.
Oracle of Where? The famous oracle of Apollo in the ancient world was located in Delphi. Because of this, many readers assume that Shakespeare, who had a limited classical education, mistakenly referred to Delphi as “Delphos” in The Winter’s Tale. However, Delphos is actually an alternate name for the island of Delos, the mythical birthplace of Apollo and site of another Apollonian oracle. Shakespeare’s apparent blunder is therefore actually a remarkably erudite detail (though one taken from his model, Robert Greene’s Pandosto).