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The Winter’s Tale
Act 1, scene 1



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The “tale” of The Winter’s Tale unfolds in scenes set sixteen years apart. In the first part of the play, Leontes, king…

Act 1, scene 1

Archidamus, a Bohemian courtier, exclaims about the magnificent hospitality he has found in Sicilia. Camillo explains about the long friendship…

Act 1, scene 2

Leontes suddenly grows insanely jealous of the friendship between his queen, Hermione, and his visiting friend Polixenes. Leontes forces Camillo…

Act 2, scene 1

Leontes learns of the departure of Polixenes and Camillo and has Hermione arrested for adultery and treason. He announces that…

Act 2, scene 2

Paulina attempts to visit Hermione in prison. Learning that the queen has given birth to a baby girl, Paulina decides…

Act 2, scene 3

Paulina brings the baby to the tormented Leontes, who first orders the baby burned, then orders Antigonus to take the…

Act 3, scene 1

The couriers, en route from Delphos with the oracle’s response, discuss the ceremony they observed and express their hopes for…

Act 3, scene 2

As Hermione tries to defend herself in open court, the oracle is read and she is declared chaste and Polixenes…

Act 3, scene 3

Antigonus leaves the baby in Bohemia, where Polixenes is king. In a sudden storm, the ship sinks and Antigonus is…

Act 4, scene 1

Father Time appears and bridges the sixteen-year gap following the abandonment of Perdita in Bohemia.

Act 4, scene 2

Camillo asks permission to return to Sicilia. Polixenes refuses his request and asks Camillo instead to go with him in…

Act 4, scene 3

Autolycus, a con man, steals the shepherd’s son’s money and decides to use the upcoming sheep-shearing feast as an occasion…

Act 4, scene 4

At the sheepshearing feast, Florizell and Perdita declare their love before the disguised Polixenes and Camillo. When Polixenes orders Florizell…

Act 5, scene 1

Paulina insists that Leontes must not remarry, despite the urgings of his courtiers. Florizell and Perdita arrive, and are greeted…

Act 5, scene 2

Autolycus learns from courtiers that Leontes’ lost daughter has been found; he then meets the newly elevated shepherd and shepherd’s…

Act 5, scene 3

Leontes, Polixenes, Perdita, Florizell, and Camillo go with Paulina to view the statue of Hermione. Leontes grieves over her death,…

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Scene 1
Enter Camillo and Archidamus.

ARCHIDAMUS If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia
 on the like occasion whereon my services
 are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great
 difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.
CAMILLO 5I think this coming summer the King of
 Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which
 he justly owes him.
ARCHIDAMUS Wherein our entertainment shall shame
 us; we will be justified in our loves. For indeed—
CAMILLO 10Beseech you—
ARCHIDAMUS Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my
 knowledge. We cannot with such magnificence—in
 so rare—I know not what to say. We will give you
 sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintelligent of our
15 insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as
 little accuse us.
CAMILLO You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given
ARCHIDAMUS Believe me, I speak as my understanding
20 instructs me and as mine honesty puts it to
CAMILLO Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia.
 They were trained together in their childhoods,
 and there rooted betwixt them then such an

The Winter’s Tale
ACT 1. SC. 2

25 affection which cannot choose but branch now.
 Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities
 made separation of their society, their encounters,
 though not personal, hath been royally
 attorneyed with interchange of gifts, letters, loving
30 embassies, that they have seemed to be together
 though absent, shook hands as over a vast, and
 embraced as it were from the ends of opposed
 winds. The heavens continue their loves.
ARCHIDAMUS I think there is not in the world either
35 malice or matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable
 comfort of your young Prince Mamillius. It is a
 gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came
 into my note.
CAMILLO I very well agree with you in the hopes of
40 him. It is a gallant child—one that indeed physics
 the subject, makes old hearts fresh. They that went
 on crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to
 see him a man.
ARCHIDAMUS Would they else be content to die?
CAMILLO 45Yes, if there were no other excuse why they
 should desire to live.
ARCHIDAMUS If the King had no son, they would desire
 to live on crutches till he had one.
They exit.