The Winter's Tale

Hermione Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
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, and is exonerated by the oracle from Delphos, but Leontes still doesn’t believe her. She dies in Act 2, and her death helps Leontes realize the error of his ways. Miraculously, in Act 5, she returns, as a memorial statue of her in Paulina’s house comes to life. It is unclear whether Shakespeare intended for Hermione actually to die and then be resurrected, or whether she simply pretends to die in order to teach Leontes a lesson, and then pretends to be brought back to life miraculously, when she was actually living the whole time.

Hermione Quotes in The Winter's Tale

The The Winter's Tale quotes below are all either spoken by Hermione or refer to Hermione. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Winter's Tale published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

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:

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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:

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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:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

HERMIONE
Come, sir, now
I am for you again: pray you, sit by us,
And tell ‘s a tale.

MAMILLIUS
Merry or sad shall’t be?

HERMIONE
As merry as you will.

MAMILLIUS
A sad tale’s best for winter: I have one
Of sprites and goblins.

Related Characters: Hermione (speaker), Mamillius (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 2.1.28-34
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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Since what I am to say must be but that
Which contradicts my accusation and
The testimony on my part no other
But what comes from myself, it shall scarce boot me
To say 'not guilty:' mine integrity
Being counted falsehood, shall, as I express it
Be so received. But thus: if powers divine
Behold our human actions, as they do,
I doubt not then but innocence shall make
False accusation blush and tyranny
Tremble at patience.

Related Characters: Hermione (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.23-33
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Hermione Character Timeline in The Winter's Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Hermione appears in The Winter's Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
...insists, “my affairs / Do even drag me homeward,” and Leontes tells his pregnant wife Hermione to persuade Polixenes to stay. (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Hermione takes Polixenes aside and tries to persuade him to stay in Sicilia, but he keeps... (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 that she convinced... (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 why he is upset, and he answers that he is fine,... (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 to a... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...infidelity, and asks Camillo if he saw how Polixenes was only persuaded to stay by Hermione. He asks Camillo why Polixenes agreed to stay in Sicilia, but Camillo doesn’t take Leontes’... (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 together. They play together, “horsing... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
...Polixenes. Camillo says he is willing to do this, but still refuses to believe that Hermione has been unfaithful to Leontes. Leontes angrily says that he would not tell Camillo she... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...Polixenes can make that will convince Leontes that he has not had an affair with Hermione. He asks Camillo where Leontes’ suspicion has come from, but Camillo doesn’t know. He advises... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...Camillo, because he saw Leontes’ contempt for him in his expression. He says that because Hermione is such a “precious creature,” Leontes’ jealousy will be great. He says that he is... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Hermione gives Mamillius to two attendant ladies to watch over him. The ladies comment on how... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Leontes sends Mamillius away and tells Hermione that she is likely pregnant with Polixenes’ child. Hermione denies this, but Leontes does not... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Leontes calls Hermione an adulteress and “a bed-swerver.” Hermione denies it and says that he will be grieved... (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... (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 Sicilia as more proof of the affair. He says... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...the oracle’s word will “give rest to th’ minds of others,” who don’t believe that Hermione has been unfaithful. He says that he has imprisoned his own wife so that she... (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 her in to see... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...he tells himself not to think of them, and to take his revenge out on Hermione instead. Paulina arrives with the newborn child. Antigonus and a servant try to prevent her... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...disturb him. Paulina tells Leontes that she comes from his “good queen,” and shows him Hermione’s newborn daughter. Leontes is furious and orders for Paulina to be taken away. He calls... (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
...oracle and back, and says that the truth will soon be known. He orders for Hermione to be brought out of prison to a “session,” where she will have “a just... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...and both hope that when it is read it will be good for the queen Hermione. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
At a court of justice, Leontes calls for Hermione to enter and be put on trial. He says that he is not being “tyrannous,”... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Hermione says that she is innocent, but doubts that anything she says can convince Leontes. She... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Hermione says she loved Polixenes “with such a kind of love as might become / A... (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
Hermione says that she does not fear death, as her life has become a series of... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...mother, has died. Leontes says that Apollo must be punishing him for disregarding the oracle. Hermione faints, and Leontes calls for her to be carried off so she can recover. Paulina... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Paulina re-enters and announces that Hermione has died. She berates Leontes, calling him a tyrant, and enumerating all the evil things... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
...tells her that she spoke truly, though. He calls for the bodies of Mamillius and Hermione to be brought to him, planning to bury them together and visit their burial place... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...in Bohemia. Antigonus goes ashore, carrying Leontes’ newborn daughter. He says that a vision of Hermione appeared to him in his sleep and told her to bring the child to Bohemia... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...holding a grudge against Leontes and refusing to forgive him for causing the death of Hermione and Mamillius. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...the king that he has “performed / A saintlike sorrow,” has repented enough for causing Hermione’s death, and should now remarry. Leontes is not sure that he can, and Paulina agrees... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
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...tells Paulina that he wishes he had taken her advice so long ago, so that Hermione would not have died. He resolves not to remarry, and says that if he remarried,... (full context)
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...beautiful person he has ever seen. Paulina chides the servant for forgetting the beauty of Hermione and the servant apologizes but insists on the beauty of Florizell’s princess. Paulina says that... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...says that it is true, and that the bundle the shepherd displayed had in it Hermione’s mantle and a letter from Antigonus, proving Perdita’s true identity. (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 news. He says that Perdita has gone... (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, which is at Paulina’s home. Paulina says that just as Hermione was unequalled in beauty,... (full context)
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Leontes remarks that the statue appears slightly more wrinkled than Hermione was, and Paulina says that the skilled sculptor made the statue so that, sixteen years... (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... (full context)
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Hermione asks where Perdita has been living, but Paulina tells her there will be time to... (full context)
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...Camillo, who he says has proved his “worth and honesty.” Leontes begs pardon from both Hermione and Polixenes that he ever suspected the two of them had an affair. He tells... (full context)