The Winter's Tale

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Leontes Character Analysis

The king of Sicilia. While his close childhood friend Polixenes is visiting him, he suddenly suspects that Polixenes is sleeping with his wife Hermione. He quickly becomes consumed by intense jealousy, and flies into a rage, trying to get Polixenes killed and throwing Hermione in jail. He puts Hermione on trial, but refuses to be persuaded of her innocence, even by an oracle of Apollo. He orders for the death of both Hermione and Perdita, whom he orders Antigonus to abandon out in a deserted wilderness. After the deaths of his wife and son Mamillius, though, he realizes the error of his ways, and tries to repent for what he has done. In the second half of the play, Leontes seems to have learned his lesson and is welcoming to Florizell and Perdita, offering to try to help them reason with Polixenes. When Perdita’s identity is revealed and Hermione miraculously comes back to life in Act 5, Leontes goes from tragic hero to a comic character happily reunited with his family and reconciled with his friend Polixenes.

Leontes Quotes in The Winter's Tale

The The Winter's Tale quotes below are all either spoken by Leontes or refer to Leontes. 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 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Press me not, beseech you, so.
There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the world,
So soon as yours could win me: so it should now,
Were there necessity in your request, although
'Twere needful I denied it.

Related Characters: Polixenes (speaker), Leontes
Page Number: 1.2.26-30
Explanation and Analysis:

Polixenes begins this scene by saying that he must return to Bohemia, since he has been in Sicilia for nine months. He thanks Leontes, who is like a brother, for his hospitality, but says he must part. Leontes asks his friend to stay longer, but Polixenes refuses.

Here Polixenes tells Leontes to drop it, saying that no one could possibly convince him more easily than Leontes, but in this situation, Polixenes must decline by necessity. The Bohemian king is extremely firm in his denial, and his insistence that no one ("no tongue that moves") could persuade him will act as fuel for Leontes' suspicions when Polixenes ultimately becomes convinced to stay. Note the repetition of the word none to enhance the surprising effect of Hermione's successful persuasion moments later.

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We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun,
And bleat the one at the other: what we changed
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
With stronger blood, we should have answer'd heaven
Boldly 'not guilty;' the imposition clear'd
Hereditary ours.

Related Characters: Polixenes (speaker), Leontes
Page Number: 1.2.85-94
Explanation and Analysis:

Hermione has persevered and persuaded Polixenes to extend his stay. Now that he's convinced, she takes the opportunity to ask him about his childhood friendship with her husband, Leontes. Polixenes responds with the poetic lines excerpted here, comparing himself and Leontes to "twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun." He describes a picture of complete youthful innocence, saying the pair had no conception of doing wrong and could not even dream that anyone would.

If they had continued in this way of being, Polixenes says, and if they hadn't been raised with strong blood (royal bloodlines and lineage), they would have boldly been able to answer "not guilty" at their final judgment. However, Polixenes will go on to explain that the two men grew up, lost their innocence, and fell in love with their wives. The youthful innocence described here offers stark contrast with the jealous convictions that will soon overtake Leontes and the actions his jealousy will lead him to.

Too hot, too hot!
To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me: my heart dances;
But not for joy; not joy. This entertainment
May a free face put on, derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
And well become the agent; 't may, I grant;
But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
As now they are, and making practised smiles
As in a looking-glass, and then to sigh, as 'twere
The mort o' the deer; O, that is entertainment
My bosom likes not, nor my brows! Mamillius,
Art thou my boy?

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Polixenes, Hermione
Page Number: 1.2.139-151
Explanation and Analysis:

When Polixenes and Hermione return from their side conversation, Leontes asks if his friend has yet been convinced; upon learning that Hermione has been successful, Leontes tells her that the only time she spoke to better purpose was the day she pledged her love for him. Leontes doesn't appear to be upset that his wife was able to persuade Polixenes when he was not, even though Polixenes assured Leontes (as in the quote above) that no other tongue could possibly convince him more easily.

When Hermione gives Polixenes her hand, however, Leontes suddenly snaps. He is immediately possessed by jealousy, based only on the evidence of brief hand holding. In an aside, he exclaims, "Too hot, too hot!" The gesture is excessive, and to him seems absolute proof of his wife's guilt. He believes the two seem too familiar, and describes in detail the way they are holding hands, "paddling palms and pinching fingers," all the while making "practised smiles" like they might make in a mirror to appear genuine. Such "entertainment" does not sit well with Leontes, who has worked himself into such a jealous frenzy that at the end of these lines he questions if his son Mamillius is even his own.

Ha' not you seen, Camillo, —
But that's past doubt, you have, or your eye-glass
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn, —or heard, —
—For to a vision so apparent rumour
Cannot be mute, —or thought, —for cogitation
Resides not in that man that does not think, —
My wife is slippery?

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Polixenes, Hermione, Camillo
Page Number: 1.2.329-335
Explanation and Analysis:

Leontes has sent Polixenes and Hermione off on a walk; he is now utterly convinced of his wife's infidelity, and believes that everyone in court has known all along. Leontes asks Camillio why he thinks Hermione was able to convince Polixenes to stay, trying to draw the truth out of him. When the confused Camillo does not play along, Leontes speaks the excerpted lines, wondering if Camillo really has not seen what is so plain to him.

He asks, "have you not seen, Camillo"—but stops himself since it is so obvious that he must have seen, unless his "eye-glass / Is thicker than a cuckold's horn." (A cuckold is a term for someone whose spouse cheats on them, often described as wearing figurative horns.) If he hasn't seen, Leontes says, he must have at least heard about the infidelity, since rumors must spread from "a vision so apparent." Leontes goes as far as to say that simply thinking about it will yield the truth, and only a man who does not think would disagree with his conclusions. The single vision, grounded in sight, of the pair holding hands has thus spread to the ear and to thought and become evidence that amounts to absolute proof that Hermione is "slippery."

Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career
Of laughing with a sigh? —a note infallible
Of breaking honesty —horsing foot on foot?
Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift?
Hours, minutes? noon, midnight? and all eyes
Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only
That would unseen be wicked? is this nothing?
Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing;
The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing;
My wife is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings,
If this be nothing.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Polixenes, Hermione
Page Number: 1.2.346-359
Explanation and Analysis:

To Leontes' assertion that Hermione is slippery, Camillo responds that Hermione is innocent, and that Leontes has never said anything less appropriate than such a false accusation. But Leontes is absolutely convinced, obsessed, and infuriated. Already certain, he looks back on examples of the close friendship between Hermione and Polixenes and retroactively attributes sexual undertones and signs of infidelity to them.

He begins "Is whispering nothing?" suggesting that the two have been known to whisper. He continues listing their supposed behaviors, questioning if any of them could really be nothing. Being close physically? Meeting noses? Kissing? Laughing together? The list goes on to include a romantic desire for time to speed up (note that the obsessed Leontes breaks time down into its deviations and specific hours), and the desire for all eyes to be blind but those of the supposed lovers, so they can act freely while remaining unseen. He asks is all of this nothing?

If so, Leontes concludes that the world and all that it contains is nothing, that the sky is nothing, Bohemia is noting, Hermione is nothing, nothing is nothing if these signs are not proof of what he knows to be true. Leontes has be come so thoroughly convinced that he feels like the fabric of the world and his very reality would cease to exist with the loss of this core belief.

Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences, you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
Is piled upon his faith and will continue
The standing of his body.

Related Characters: Camillo (speaker), Leontes
Page Number: 1.2.511-518
Explanation and Analysis:

Towards the end of this long scene, Camillo is explaining to Polixenes that he has been ordered to murder him because of Leontes' rigid belief that Hermione has been unfaithful. Here, Camillo tells Polixenes just how convinced Lenotes has become. Leontes swears the truth of the infidelity "by each particular star in heaven and / By all their influences." We see that Camillo has caught the gravity of Leontes' powerful "Is this nothing?" speech, since he compares changing Leontes' mind to forbidding the sea to obey the moon. As we saw above, Camillo also notes that this "folly" has become the foundation of Leontes' faith and his very being. In other words, it is hopeless for Polixenes to try and assert his innocence, and so the best option is simply to flee.

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'll show't the king and undertake to be
Her advocate to the loud'st. We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o' the child:
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.

Related Characters: Paulina (speaker), Leontes, Hermione, Perdita
Page Number: 2.2.46-51
Explanation and Analysis:

Paulina, the wife of the nobleman Antigonus, tries to visit Hermione in jail, but she is prevented by the guard. One of Hermione's attendants informs Paulina that Hermione has given birth to a daughter, and Paulina laments the terrible situation and the madness of Leontes that has resulted in Hermione's imprisonment. Here, she thinks of a plan to bring Leontes to his senses and help Hermione.

Paulina says that if Hermione will trust her with the newborn, she will take the baby to the King and advocate for Hermione's innocence. She believes that it is possible Leontes will "soften at the sight o' the child." Paulina says that "the silence often of pure innocence / Persuades when speaking fails." We can note two intertwined aspects of this plan to convince Leontes to release Hermione. First, note that this attempt means to use silence as opposed to language. All discussion of convincing Polixenes to stay in the first place was in terms of language and the tongue, but it has become clear that no amount of verbal reasoning or appeal can change Leontes' mind about his wife's infidelity. Second, Paulina plans to appeal with youth and innocence. Recalling Polixenes' lines about the innocent young kings, we know that youths are idealized as perfectly innocent, almost holy figures. Paulina hopes this innocence will translate from daughter to mother, aligning with the line that (according to Emilia) Hermione spoke to her baby in prison: "My poor prisoner, / I am innocent as you."

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.

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

This sessions, to our great grief we pronounce,
Even pushes 'gainst our heart: the party tried
The daughter of a king, our wife, and one
Of us too much beloved. Let us be clear'd
Of being tyrannous, since we so openly
Proceed in justice, which shall have due course,
Even to the guilt or the purgation.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Hermione, Perdita
Page Number: 3.2.1-7
Explanation and Analysis:

In a court of justice, Leontes begins this scene and the trial with another formal speech given in the royal "we" tense. He claims that it is with grief that he must preside over these proceedings, since the one being tried is "the daughter of a king, our wife, and one / Of us too much beloved." One meaning of this last statement is that it is difficult to have this trial since Leontes loves Hermione so much, but another reading is that he loved her too much, meaning that since she was unfaithful, she was deserving of less love.

Leontes then tries to absolve himself of any tyrannous behavior, claiming to openly proceed in justice, which he says must be followed no matter if Hermione is innocent or guilty. We know, however, that Leontes will not be swayed no matter what. The jealous thought has become his core belief, the ground on which his reality stands, and despite his attempts to verbally or rationally appear just, he is still acting tyrannous.

For Polixenes,
With whom I am accused, I do confess
I loved him as in honour he required,
With such a kind of love as might become
A lady like me, with a love even such,
So and no other, as yourself commanded:
Which not to have done I think had been in me
Both disobedience and ingratitude
To you and toward your friend, whose love had spoke,
Even since it could speak, from an infant, freely
That it was yours. Now, for conspiracy,
I know not how it tastes; though it be dish'd
For me to try how: all I know of it
Is that Camillo was an honest man;
And why he left your court, the gods themselves,
Wotting no more than I, are ignorant.

Related Characters: Hermione (speaker), Leontes, Polixenes, Camillo
Page Number: 3.2.65-81
Explanation and Analysis:

Hermione has made her first speech of the trail, but Leontes still does not believe her. Here, Hermione gives another speech in which she attempts to differentiate romantic and platonic love. She says that she loved Polixenes "as in honour he required, / With such a kind of love as might become / a lady like" her. In other words, she loved Polixenes as a friend, as a king deserves to be loved, and furthermore as Leontes, a dear friend to Polixenes, commanded her to.

Hermione goes on to say that if she hadn't loved Polixenes in this way, it would have been actual disobedience and ingratitude, opposing the nonsensical, jealously-based infidelity she is accused of. Hermione has no idea why Camillo left court or what is going on; she maintains that she truly is innocent.

Her claim here that her friendship was non-romantic and ordered by her husband is both clever and unique. By framing the love as a duty to her husband, she masterfully reverses the accusation and seems to act as a faithful wife should. If Leontes were not so possessed by jealousy, it is possible that her argument would have worked. But its uniqueness is also a reason it might seem unbelievable. Her notion of a non-romantic friendship between man and woman would have been uncommon, perhaps even revolutionary during the Renaissance.

There is no truth at all i' the oracle:
The sessions shall proceed: this is mere falsehood.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.151-152
Explanation and Analysis:

When Leontes refuses to be convinced, Hermione appeals to the Oracle of Apollo, which proclaims that she is chaste, Polixenes is innocent, Camillo is a true subject, and Leontes is a jealous tyrant. The Oracle also threatens that Leontes will go without an heir if the situation is not rectified ("if that which is lost is not found").

But Leontes immediately rejects the oracle, saying that there is no truth in it whatsoever, and that the prophesy is pure falsehood. Again, we see how conventional methods available to his subjects—reason, religion, appeals to his good nature with innocent children—fail to break the spell of jealousy and alert Leontes to the truth of Hermione's faithfulness. He trusts his own belief in this matter over the very words of the gods.

However, immediately following these lines, a servant informs Leontes of Mamillius' tragic death, the once promising youth having weakened and grown ill in the turmoil of his mother's accusation and trial. Hermione faints at the news, and Leontes immediately repents and cries out to Apollo that he will try to atone for his actions.

O, think what they have done
And then run mad indeed, stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray'dst Polixenes,'twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful: nor was't much,
Thou wouldst have poison'd good Camillo's honour,
To have him kill a king: poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter
To be or none or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire ere done't:
Nor is't directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince, whose honourable thoughts,
Thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemish'd his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer: but the last, —O lords,
When I have said, cry 'woe!' the queen, the queen,
The sweet'st, dear'st creature's dead,
and vengeance for't
Not dropp'd down yet.

Related Characters: Paulina (speaker), Leontes, Polixenes, Hermione, Camillo, Mamillius, Perdita
Page Number: 3.2.201-222
Explanation and Analysis:

In this stunning speech, Paulina chastises the King at length for his folly and the damage it has wrought. The "they" she refers to in the first quoted line are Leontes' jealous and tyrannical actions, which have caused terrible things to happen, all of which she will outline below.

Leontes betrayed his dear friend Polixenes over "nothing" (note the irony of this term returning after Leontes' earlier speech involving nothing). Leontes would have poisoned Camillo's honor, since he ordered him to commit regicide (kill a king). He cast off his daughter, a cruelty Paulina says surpasses even a devil, and caused the death of his tender son. But the climactic speech ends with a crushing final blow: Hermione too is now dead.

Paulina's fury is a staggering display of emotion and power over the king. This reversal of the natural order shows two traditional dichotomies flipped: subject over king and woman over man. What's more, a few lines later Leontes will say "Go on. Go on. / Thou canst not speak too much." He gives her leave, embracing his anguish and believing himself deserving of bitterness from all tongues.

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you: were I but twenty-one,
Your father's image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us perform'd before. Most dearly welcome!
And your fair princess, —goddess! —O, alas!
I lost a couple, that 'twixt heaven and earth
Might thus have stood begetting wonder as
You, gracious couple, do: and then I lost—
All mine own folly —the society,
Amity too, of your brave father, whom,
Though bearing misery, I desire my life
Once more to look on him.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Polixenes, Florizell, Perdita
Page Number: 5.1.157-171
Explanation and Analysis:

This scene returns to Sicilia, and shows Leontes repenting still for his errors that led to Hermione's death. He contemplates remarrying, but says that he will never do it. A servant announces that Florizell has come with his princess unannounced; Paulina remarks that it is shame that Mamillius is not alive, since he would have been the same age as Florizell now. The lines here are Leontes' greeting to the young Bohemian prince.

He begins by saying that Florizell's mother was surely true to wedlock, immediately referencing his own error and accusation of Hermione (either by accident or design). He affirms Florizell's parentage by saying that the young prince is a "print" of his father, and that if he (Leontes) were young, he would call the prince "brother" and think he was Polixenes himself.

Leontes then greets the princess and calls her a goddess. Unknowing of either her true or false lineage, Leontes is pleased with the pair. He then returns to repenting his own folly and all that he has lost, and tells Florizell that he hopes to make amends with Polixenes someday. Here we see that time has made Leontes more wise, reserved, calm, and repentant.

Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

LEONTES
But yet, Paulina,
Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing
So aged as this seems.

POLIXENES
O, not by much!

PAULINA
So much the more our carver’s excellence,
Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her
As she lived now.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Polixenes (speaker), Paulina (speaker), Hermione
Page Number: 5.3.31-37
Explanation and Analysis:

Most of the play's tension has been resolved, with the reunion and reconciliation of Leontes and Perdita and Leontes and Polixenes taking place off stage in Act 5, Scene 2. Now, the whole group gathers to look at an incredibly lifelike statue of Hermione. Here, Leontes remarks that the statue seems more wrinkled and aged than Hermione ever was. Kind Polixenes jumps in quickly with a remark that she doesn't look aged by much. But Paulina reassures them that the artist has masterfully carved the statue to represent Hermione as she would have looked if she had lived the past 16 years.

This statue needs to be aged properly, of course, since it will soon come to life! In this crucial scene it is unclear whether Paulina brings the statue to life by a spell, introducing the miraculous or supernatural into the play (which is fitting given the absurdity found elsewhere), or if Hermione has been alive all along, waiting to return only when Leontes has fully repented and absolved himself, and is simply pretending to be a statue during this scene.

My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,
Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,
So many summers dry; scarce any joy
Did ever so long live; no sorrow
But kill'd itself much sooner.

Related Characters: Camillo (speaker), Leontes
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 5.3.57-62
Explanation and Analysis:

The statue is so lifelike (or maybe is just Hermione herself) that Leontes becomes overwhelmed with regret and sorrow and begins weeping. Camillo, along with Polixenes, tries to calm him down and assure him that he has grieved enough and showed enough sorrow for his loss. Connecting back to the seasons, Camillo says that Leontes' sorrow was more than adequate, and that sixteen winters could not disrupt it, nor could the summers dry it. He asserts that no joy or sorrow has ever lasted as long as this grief.

The juxtaposition in these lines of summer and winter, grief and joy, reminds us of some of the lingering tragic elements in the comedic second half of the play, and ground the Winter's Tale firmly as a "problem play." Though the second act is comedic and set during a summer, we know that winters have passed and will also follow. There is much joy in the ending of the play, but Mamillius and Antigonus both remain dead.

O, peace, Paulina!
Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,
As I by thine a wife: this is a match,
And made between's by vows. Thou hast found mine;
But how, is to be question'd; for I saw her,
As I thought, dead, and have in vain said many
A prayer upon her grave. I'll not seek far—
For him, I partly know his mind —to find thee
An honourable husband. Come, Camillo
And take her by the hand, whose worth and honesty
Is richly noted and here justified
By us, a pair of kings.

Related Characters: Leontes (speaker), Hermione, Paulina, Camillo
Page Number: 5.3.170-182
Explanation and Analysis:

These are almost the last lines of the play. Paulina has made her dark reflection on her loss and consigned to lose herself in sorrow, but Leontes' joy at reuniting with his daughter and wife (despite his son still being dead) is enough to give a final push towards happiness and comedy. As king, he grants Paulina his permission to take a new husband, saying he wants to repay her for finding his wife again. He doesn't need to look far to find her a husband, suggesting she wed Camillo, "an honorable husband" whose "worth and honesty is richly noted" by the pair of kings, Polixenes and Leontes.

The play concludes with Leontes asking for forgiveness, and with the union of Polixenes' and Leontes' bloodlines through the marriage of Florizell and Perdita. The natural order is restored and even augmented by this new marriage. The friendships are repaired, and honesty is reaffirmed. Despite its strange, problematic beginning and some of its absurdities, the play ends on a classically light, comedic note.

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Leontes Character Timeline in The Winter's Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Leontes appears in The Winter's Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
...hospitable the Sicilians have been to him. Camillo tells him that the king of Sicilia, Leontes, plans to visit Bohemia soon, and Archidamus says that the Bohemians will need to give... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Camillo says that Polixenes and Leontes have been close friends since childhood, and Archidamus agrees that “there is not in the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
At Leontes’ court, Polixenes tells him that he must be getting back to Bohemia, as he has... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...agrees to extend his stay. Hermione asks him about his childhood friendship with her husband Leontes, and Polixenes says they “were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’ th’ sun,” and... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes asks if Hermione has persuaded Polixenes to stay, and she says she has. Leontes marvels... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Leontes doubts that he is Mamillius’ father, and is greatly troubled. Hermione and Polixenes ask him... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes tells Hermione to treat Polixenes well as a guest, and Hermione and Polixenes go off... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes thinks that everyone in his court knows about his wife’s infidelity, and asks Camillo if... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes says that Polixenes and Hermione whisper together, lean “cheek to cheek,” and touch their noses... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Leontes asks Camillo to poison Polixenes. Camillo says he is willing to do this, but still... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Leontes leaves, and Camillo examines his difficult position: if he is to obey his king, he... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...Camillo finally breaks down and says that he has been ordered to kill Polixenes, because Leontes is convinced that he has “touched his queen / Forbiddenly.” Polixenes is shocked and wishes... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Camillo says that there is no oath Polixenes can make that will convince Leontes that he has not had an affair with Hermione. He asks Camillo where Leontes’ suspicion... (full context)
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Polixenes says he believes Camillo, because he saw Leontes’ contempt for him in his expression. He says that because Hermione is such a “precious... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...her a frightening story with “sprites and goblins.” He starts to tell his story, when Leontes and a nobleman named Antigonus enter. (full context)
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Leontes is looking for Camillo and Polixenes, but one of his lords informs him that the... (full context)
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Leontes sends Mamillius away and tells Hermione that she is likely pregnant with Polixenes’ child. Hermione... (full context)
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Leontes calls Hermione an adulteress and “a bed-swerver.” Hermione denies it and says that he will... (full context)
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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 wife’s honor.... (full context)
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Leontes discounts the worries of Antigonus and the other nobleman, and remains sure of Hermione’s infidelity.... (full context)
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Leontes says that he is already sure that his wife cheated on him, but the oracle’s... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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Paulina laments Leontes’ madness in throwing his pregnant wife in jail. She asks Emilia if she could bring... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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Alone, Leontes says that he can find no rest “nor night nor day.” He says that it... (full context)
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Leontes thinks that Camillo and Polixenes are probably laughing at him from afar, but he tells... (full context)
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Leontes hears Paulina talking and asks Antigonus if he cannot “rule her,” as he has ordered... (full context)
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Leontes refers to his wife as a traitor, and Paulina says that the only traitor is... (full context)
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Paulina calls Leontes a tyrant and he again demands that Antigonus take his wife away. Paulina says there’s... (full context)
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Antigonus promises that he did not arrange for his wife to come to Leontes, and some other attendant lords vouch for him. Leontes calls them all liars. One of... (full context)
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Leontes orders Antigonus to take the baby away and abandon it in “some remote and desert... (full context)
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After Antigonus leaves with the child, a servant enters and announces that the men Leontes sent to Delphos have returned. Leontes comments on how quickly they have journeyed to the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Cleomenes and Dion, the two men sent to Delphos by Leontes, arrive at a sea-port in Sicilia. They both remark on how beautiful the island of... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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At a court of justice, Leontes calls for Hermione to enter and be put on trial. He says that he is... (full context)
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...says that Camillo was an honest man and she doesn’t know why he left Sicilia. Leontes accuses Hermione of knowing about Camillo’s plan to leave Sicilia ahead of time, and says... (full context)
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...which says that Hermione is chaste, Polixenes is innocent, Camillo is “a true subject,” and Leontes is “a jealous tyrant.” It also says that Leontes will live without an heir “if... (full context)
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Leontes immediately discounts the oracle, saying, “There is no truth at all i’ the oracle.” Suddenly,... (full context)
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Paulina re-enters and announces that Hermione has died. She berates Leontes, calling him a tyrant, and enumerating all the evil things he has done, betraying Polixenes,... (full context)
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...king, and Paulina says she has “show’d too much / The rashness of a woman.” Leontes tells her that she spoke truly, though. He calls for the bodies of Mamillius and... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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Antigonus and a mariner land on the coast in Bohemia. Antigonus goes ashore, carrying Leontes’ newborn daughter. He says that a vision of Hermione appeared to him in his sleep... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...be distressed that he is now jumping sixteen years into the future. He says that Leontes grieves “the effects of his fond jealousies” and “shuts up himself.” He says that king... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...in Bohemia, Camillo begs Polixenes to let him return to his homeland of Sicilia, since Leontes is “penitent” and has begged Camillo to return. Polixenes asks him not to go to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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...will be loyal to Florizell. He encourages Florizell to go to Sicilia, where he says Leontes will be kind to him as a way of making up for his betrayal of... (full context)
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Camillo tells Florizell to tell Leontes that he comes from Bohemia as a representative of his father Polixenes’ good will. He... (full context)
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Camillo promises to write letters of introduction for Florizell to Leontes. Then, he sees Autolycus and gets an idea. He asks Autolycus to change clothes with... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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At the court of Leontes in Sicilia, Cleomenes tells the king that he has “performed / A saintlike sorrow,” has... (full context)
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Leontes tells Paulina that he wishes he had taken her advice so long ago, so that... (full context)
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A servant enters and announces that Polixenes’ son Florizell has arrived with “his princess.” Leontes wonders what has made them come to Sicilia without any prior notice. The servant says... (full context)
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Florizell and Perdita enter, and Leontes remarks on how Florizell looks exactly like a young version of Polixenes. He welcomes Florizell,... (full context)
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Leontes tells Florizell he has “a holy father,” against whom Leontes has “done sin.” He wishes... (full context)
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Florizell admits to Leontes that he and Perdita are not married and not “like to be.” Looking at Perdita,... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Elsewhere in Sicilia, Autolycus asks a gentleman about what happened with the Bohemian shepherd at Leontes’ court. The gentleman says that the shepherd showed the bundle in which he found Perdita,... (full context)
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The third gentleman says that Leontes and Polixenes reunited joyously, and Leontes begged for Polixenes’ forgiveness. He says that the shepherd’s... (full context)
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The third gentleman says that Leontes “bravely confessed” to how he caused Hermione’s death, and Perdita was greatly saddened at this... (full context)
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Alone, Autolycus muses that he wanted to be the one to tell Leontes of the bundle that the shepherd had, but says that it if he had revealed... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Leontes, Polixenes, Florizell, Perdita, Camillo, and Paulina all go together to see the statue of Hermione,... (full context)
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Leontes remarks that the statue appears slightly more wrinkled than Hermione was, and Paulina says that... (full context)
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Camillo and Polixenes try to calm Leontes down, and tell him that he has showed enough sorrow over his wife. Leontes says... (full context)
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Paulina stops Leontes and tells everyone to prepare “for more amazement.” She says that she will make the... (full context)
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Paulina tells everyone not to be afraid, as her spell is “lawful.” Hermione embraces Leontes, and everyone remarks that she seems to be alive. Paulina tells Hermione that her daughter... (full context)
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Leontes tells Paulina not to be sad, and says that she should take a new husband.... (full context)