The Winter's Tale


William Shakespeare

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The Winter's Tale Characters

Read our modern English translation.


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… read analysis of Leontes


The king of Bohemia and childhood friend of Leontes. Leontes suspects Polixenes of sleeping with his wife Hermione and tries to get Camillo to poison him. Camillo, though, helps Polixenes escape to Bohemia, where… read analysis of Polixenes


The wife of Leontes and the queen of Sicilia. Leontes falsely suspects her of having an affair with Polixenes, throws her in jail, and even orders for her death. Hermione insists on her innocence… read analysis of Hermione


A Sicilian noblewoman and the wife of Antigonus, Paulina is strong-willed and stands up for Hermione when Leontes accuses her of being unfaithful. She speaks her mind to Leontes, and brings him the infant… read analysis of Paulina


A Sicilian nobleman and close advisor of Leontes. When Leontes suspects Polixenes of sleeping with his wife, he orders Camillo to poison Polixenes. Caught between his loyalty to his king and his knowledge that… read analysis of Camillo
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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… read analysis of Antigonus


Polixenes’ son and the prince of Bohemia. He falls in love with Perdita and is willing to defy both his father and the norms of social hierarchy by eloping with her, a mere shepherd’s daughter… read analysis of Florizell


The daughter of Leontes and Hermione, whose name is Latin for “she who has been lost.” Leontes falsely believes that Perdita is the illegitimate child of Hermione and Polixenes, and orders for her… read analysis of Perdita


A lowly shepherd in Bohemia who happens to find the abandoned Perdita (as well as a large quantity of gold), left by Antigonus. He raises Perdita as his daughter and finds himself in mortal danger… read analysis of Shepherd

Shepherd’s Son

Referred to in some editions as simply “Clown”, he is the son of the shepherd. When Polixenes discovers the relationship between Florizell and Perdita, he threatens to punish both the shepherd and his son… read analysis of Shepherd’s Son


Autolycus is a trickster in Bohemia who robs the shepherd’s son, picks pockets at the sheep-shearing festival in Act 4, and tricks both the shepherd and his son to join Florizell’s boat to Sicilia… read analysis of Autolycus
Minor Characters
The young son of Leontes and Hermione. He becomes sick when Hermione is falsely accused of having an affair with Polixenes, and dies while she is on trial. It is his death (along with Hermione’s) that propels Leontes to realize his folly in assuming his wife’s guilt.
A Sicilian nobleman who, along with Dion, goes to Delphos to get an answer from the oracle of Apollo regarding whether or not Hermione is guilty of infidelity. Later in the play, he encourages Leontes to remarry.
Along with Cleomenes, Dion travels to Delphos for the oracle early in the play, and later advises Leontes to remarry.
Father Time
An allegorical figure representing time itself, Father Time comes on-stage at the beginning of Act 4 to announce the play’s sixteen-year jump forward in time.
A Bohemian gentleman visiting Sicilia in Act 1. As the play begins, he talks with Camillo about the Sicilians’ friendly hospitality, the close friendship between Leontes and Polixenes, and the vibrant youth of Mamillius.
One of Hermione’s attendants, who meets Paulina when she goes to see Hermione in jail.
A shepherdess who attends the sheep-shearing festival in Act 4. The shepherd’s son buys her some ribbons from Autolycus.