The Winter's Tale

Perdita Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
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 to be abandoned out in the wilderness. After seeing a vision of Hermione in a dream, Antigonus takes Perdita to Bohemia and leaves her there. She is found by a shepherd and grows up as his daughter, but falls in love with Florizell, the prince of Bohemia. Even as a shepherd’s daughter, she comports herself in a noble manner, such that Leontes asks if she is a king’s daughter when he first sees her. At the end of the play, she is finally reunited with her parents and married to Florizell.

Perdita Quotes in The Winter's Tale

The The Winter's Tale quotes below are all either spoken by Perdita or refer to Perdita. 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 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 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:

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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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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 4, Scene 4 Quotes

Thou dearest Perdita,
With these forced thoughts, I prithee, darken not
The mirth o' the feast.

Related Characters: Florizell (speaker), Perdita
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 4.4.47-49
Explanation and Analysis:

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PERDITA
The fairest flowers o’ th’ season
Are our carnations and streaked gillyvors,
Which some call nature’s bastards. Of that kind
Our rustic garden’s barren, and I care not
To get slips of them.

POLIXENES
Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?

PERDITA
For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.

POLIXENES
Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean. So, over that art
Which you say adds to nature is an art
That nature makes.
. . . This is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.

Related Characters: Polixenes (speaker), Perdita (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Seasons
Page Number: 4.4.95-114
Explanation and Analysis:

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POLIXENES
Mark your divorce, young sir,
Whom son I dare not call; thou art too base
To be acknowledged: thou a sceptre's heir,
That thus affect'st a sheep-hook! Thou old traitor,
I am sorry that by hanging thee I can
But shorten thy life one week. And thou, fresh piece
Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know
The royal fool thou copest with, —

SHEPHERD
O, my heart!

POLIXENES
I'll have thy beauty scratch'd with briers, and made
More homely than thy state. For thee, fond boy,
If I may ever know thou dost but sigh
That thou no more shalt see this knack, as never
I mean thou shalt, we'll bar thee from succession;
Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,
Far than Deucalion off: mark thou my words:
Follow us to the court. Thou churl, for this time,
Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee
From the dead blow of it. And you, enchantment.—
Worthy enough a herdsman: yea, him too,
That makes himself, but for our honour therein,
Unworthy thee, —if ever henceforth thou
These rural latches to his entrance open,
Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,
I will devise a death as cruel for thee
As thou art tender to't.

Related Characters: Polixenes (speaker), Shepherd (speaker), Florizell, Perdita
Page Number: 4.4.490-518
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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Perdita Character Timeline in The Winter's Tale

The timeline below shows where the character Perdita appears in The Winter's Tale. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Scene 3
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...sleep and told her to bring the child to Bohemia and to call the child Perdita (Latin for “she who has been lost”). Pitying the poor child, Antigonus leaves Perdita in... (full context)
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...scared off some of his sheep, which he is now looking for. The shepherd sees Perdita on the ground, and decides to “take it up for / pity.” The shepherd’s son... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...the sheep-shearing festival, Florizell (dressed up as a shepherd named “Doricles” for the festival) compliments Perdita on her beauty. She worries about what will happen if king Polixenes should find them... (full context)
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
A group of shepherds (including the shepherd who found Perdita when she was a baby, and his son) enter, along with Polixenes and Camillo in... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Perdita continues to give out flowers and garlands to all the guests, describing each particular kind... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Polixenes speaks to the shepherd who has adopted Perdita, and learns that Perdita and the young man dressed up as “Doricles” are in love.... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
...herdsmen enters and performs a dance. The disguised Polixenes approaches Florizell and asks him about Perdita. Florizell says that he is in love with Perdita, and describes her beauty at length.... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...by marrying without his knowledge or consent. He encourages Florizell to tell his father about Perdita, but Florizell refuses. Polixenes suddenly removes his disguise, angrily says that Florizell is no longer... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Perdita tells Florizell he should leave, and says she is giving up on her dream of... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...that he may be able to use Florizell’s fleeing Bohemia to his advantage, by getting Perdita and him to flee to Sicilia. He speaks to Florizell and says that he has... (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...Florizell that Leontes must think Florizell is on good terms with his father. Florizell and Perdita agree with the plan, but Florizell worries about arriving in Sicilia with his shepherd’s costume.... (full context)
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...to change clothes with Florizell, and Autolycus agrees after a bit of protest. Camillo advises Perdita to disguise herself as well, so that she and Florizell can safely escape Bohemia. Speaking... (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... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...his son toward the seashore. They think their only hope is to tell Polixenes that Perdita is not actually the shepherd’s daughter, and believe they are “blessed” to have found Autolycus.... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Florizell and Perdita enter, and Leontes remarks on how Florizell looks exactly like a young version of Polixenes.... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...He wishes he still had his son and daughter, “such goodly things” as Florizell and Perdita. Just then, a lord enters and says that Polixenes is in Sicilia, chasing after his... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Florizell admits to Leontes that he and Perdita are not married and not “like to be.” Looking at Perdita, Leontes asks if she... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
...Leontes’ court. The gentleman says that the shepherd showed the bundle in which he found Perdita, and that Camillo and Leontes reacted with an extreme display of emotion, and he could... (full context)
Evidence, Truth, Persuasion, and Belief Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...bundle the shepherd displayed had in it Hermione’s mantle and a letter from Antigonus, proving Perdita’s true identity. (full context)
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
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 to a statue... (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
...to Autolycus that he is now a gentleman, and Florizell called him his brother, while Perdita called the shepherd her father. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Leontes, Polixenes, Florizell, Perdita, Camillo, and Paulina all go together to see the statue of Hermione, which is at... (full context)
Loyalty, Fidelity, and Honesty Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...to his soul, as it reminds him of his cruelty toward his now deceased wife. Perdita kneels before the statue to kiss its hand and “implore her blessing.” Paulina tells her... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
...and everyone remarks that she seems to be alive. Paulina tells Hermione that her daughter Perdita has been found. Hermione says that she “preserved” herself in the hopes of seeing her... (full context)
Friendship and Love Theme Icon
Seriousness, Levity, and Humor Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Order Theme Icon
Hermione asks where Perdita has been living, but Paulina tells her there will be time to learn everything later.... (full context)