The Winter's Tale

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Antigonus Character Analysis

A nobleman of Sicilia and the husband of Paulina. He is caught between his loyalty to his wife, who tries to persuade Leontes that Hermione is innocent, and his loyalty to his king Leontes, who chides him for allowing his wife to dominate him. Leontes orders Antigonus to take the infant Perdita away and abandon her somewhere deserted. After seeing a vision of Hermione in a dream, he takes Perdita to Bohemia and leaves her alone in the wilderness (where she is later discovered by the shepherd). After doing this, he is suddenly chased after and killed by a bear, with absolutely no warning.

Antigonus Quotes in The Winter's Tale

The The Winter's Tale quotes below are all either spoken by Antigonus or refer to Antigonus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Winter's Tale published in 2005.
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Mark and perform it, see'st thou! for the fail
Of any point in't shall not only be
Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place quite out
Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it,
Without more mercy, to its own protection
And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune
It came to us, I do in justice charge thee
On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture
That thou commend it strangely to some place
Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Paulina, Antigonus, Perdita
Page Number: 2.3.211-224
Explanation and Analysis:

The dramatic exchanges of this scene preceding the excerpted speech can be summarized thus: Paulina's plan to present Leontes with his newborn daughter and thereby exonerate Hermione fails miserably. Leontes calls Paulina a traitor, and calls her husband a traitor too, one who should be hanged for his inability to control Paulina. Members of the court try to intervene and save the child, but Leontes, believing to act with justice, behaves like a tyrant and refuses to hear them.

In this speech he makes his final decision regarding the life of the child, of Paulina, and of Antigonus. Beginning with "mark and perform it," meaning listen and do what I say, Leontes starts by saying that if Antigonus does not obey he and his "lewd-tongue wife" (whom Leontes for now has pardoned) will be executed. We can note that the tyranny that has been building in the scene has reached its climax, as Leontes has now switched grammatically into using the formal, royal "we," giving this speech the air of an official decree and reminding us that, though he is maddened by jealousy, he is still a king.

The instructions are as follows: take the baby away and bring her to a remote place outside of Leontes' kingdom; leave the baby there without help, so that its survival is completely dependent on chance. Leontes conceives of this as complete justice, failing to see a problem with the unnatural rejection of his own daughter.

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Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

Go together,
You precious winners all; your exultation
Partake to every one. I, an old turtle,
Will wing me to some wither'd bough and there
My mate, that's never to be found again,
Lament till I am lost.

Related Characters: Paulina (speaker), Antigonus
Page Number: 5.3.164-169
Explanation and Analysis:

With nearly everyone reunited, Paulina suggests that everyone should go together and enjoy the bounty they have won and the happy ending they have found. Paulina, though, has just been informed of her husband's death. So while she encourages merriment in others, she, "an old turtle," will find a quiet place to spend the rest of her life lamenting her lost love and losing herself. One of the reasons this play is problematic (though some comedies have sour notes in their endings) is that in a scene that should only be filled with marriage, happiness, and loose ends tied up, we also see a reflection on death, loneliness, and a loss of the self in lamentation and sorrow.

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Antigonus Character Timeline in The Winter's Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Antigonus appears in The Winter's Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 1
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
...“sprites and goblins.” He starts to tell his story, when Leontes and a nobleman named Antigonus enter. (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Hermione and her ladies are led off to prison. Antigonus begs Leontes to reconsider, as he is harming Hermione, Mamillius, and himself by doubting his... (full context)
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes discounts the worries of Antigonus and the other nobleman, and remains sure of Hermione’s infidelity. He sees Camillo’s flight from... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...imprisoned his own wife so that she doesn’t run away like Polixenes. As Leontes leaves, Antigonus comments to himself that the “good truth” of the matter would actually provoke the king... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Paulina, a noblewoman and the wife of Antigonus, tries to visit Hermione in jail, but the jailer guarding the prison will not let... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...and to take his revenge out on Hermione instead. Paulina arrives with the newborn child. Antigonus and a servant try to prevent her from going to see Leontes, but she tells... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes hears Paulina talking and asks Antigonus if he cannot “rule her,” as he has ordered for no one to come disturb... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...Paulina insists that the baby resembles Leontes and must be his child. Leontes responds that Antigonus should be hanged for not being able to stop Paulina from talking, and Antigonus says... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Paulina calls Leontes a tyrant and he again demands that Antigonus take his wife away. Paulina says there’s no need for her to be dragged away,... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Antigonus promises that he did not arrange for his wife to come to Leontes, and some... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Leontes orders Antigonus to take the baby away and abandon it in “some remote and desert place,” where... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
After Antigonus leaves with the child, a servant enters and announces that the men Leontes sent to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Antigonus and a mariner land on the coast in Bohemia. Antigonus goes ashore, carrying Leontes’ newborn... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
The shepherd remarks on the unfortunate fate of Antigonus, but draws his son’s attention to the child he has found, and some gold that... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...that the bundle the shepherd displayed had in it Hermione’s mantle and a letter from Antigonus, proving Perdita’s true identity. (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...Leontes begged for Polixenes’ forgiveness. He says that the shepherd’s son explained to everyone that Antigonus was “torn to pieces with a bear,” and his ship was wrecked in a storm.... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...she, meanwhile will spend the rest of her life lamenting the death of her husband Antigonus. (full context)