The Winter's Tale

Autolycus Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
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. He is thoroughly (but playfully) dishonest, though he promises the shepherd and his son in Act 5 that he will reform and be an honest man. Autolycus never appears in the play after making this promise, so the sincerity of his promise is left ambiguous.

Autolycus Quotes in The Winter's Tale

The The Winter's Tale quotes below are all either spoken by Autolycus or refer to Autolycus. 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 4, Scene 4 Quotes

Ha, ha! what a fool Honesty is! and Trust, his
sworn brother, a very simple gentleman!

Related Characters: Autolycus (speaker)
Page Number: 4.4.711-712
Explanation and Analysis:

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Autolycus Character Timeline in The Winter's Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Autolycus appears in The Winter's Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 4, Scene 3
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
A con-man named Autolycus is walking along a road in Bohemia, singing a song about spring and how he... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Lying on the ground, Autolycus shouts that he is hurting. The shepherd’s son goes to help him, and he says... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...and sell small trinkets. The shepherd’s son calls for the peddler to come sing, and Autolycus enters. He sings about the various wares he is selling, encouraging everyone, “Come buy of... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
The shepherd’s son buys a shepherdess named Mopsa some ribbons from Autolycus. Mopsa asks him to buy her some more things, but he reminds her that he... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...the plan, but Florizell worries about arriving in Sicilia with his shepherd’s costume. Just then, Autolycus enters and brags to himself about how he sold all his cheap trinkets at the... (full context)
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
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 Florizell, and Autolycus agrees... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Perdita, Camillo, and Florizell leave. Alone, Autolycus says that he understands what is going on, but will not inform Polixenes, because he... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
The shepherd and his son plan to go to Polixenes’ palace. Autolycus overhears them and, pretending to be a noble courtier, asks what business they have at... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Autolycus says that the girl’s father is sure to be killed, as well as the shepherd’s... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Autolycus directs the shepherd and his son toward the seashore. They think their only hope is... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Elsewhere in Sicilia, Autolycus asks a gentleman about what happened with the Bohemian shepherd at Leontes’ court. The gentleman... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Alone, Autolycus muses that he wanted to be the one to tell Leontes of the bundle that... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Autolycus asks the shepherd’s son to give him “good report to the Prince,” and pardon his... (full context)