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The Winter’s Tale
Act 2, scene 2



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 2
Enter Paulina, a Gentleman, and Paulina’s Attendants.

PAULINA, to Gentleman 
 The keeper of the prison, call to him.
 Let him have knowledge who I am.
Gentleman exits.
 Good lady,

The Winter’s Tale
ACT 2. SC. 2

 No court in Europe is too good for thee.
5 What dost thou then in prison?

Enter Jailer, with the Gentleman.

 Now, good sir,
 You know me, do you not?
JAILER  For a worthy lady
 And one who much I honor.
PAULINA 10 Pray you then,
 Conduct me to the Queen.
JAILER  I may not, madam.
 To the contrary I have express commandment.
 Here’s ado, to lock up honesty and honor from
15 Th’ access of gentle visitors. Is ’t lawful, pray you,
 To see her women? Any of them? Emilia?
JAILER So please you, madam,
 To put apart these your attendants, I
 Shall bring Emilia forth.
PAULINA 20 I pray now, call her.—
 Withdraw yourselves.
Attendants and Gentleman exit.
 And, madam, I must be present at your conference.
PAULINA Well, be ’t so, prithee.Jailer exits.
 Here’s such ado to make no stain a stain
25 As passes coloring.

Enter Emilia with Jailer.

 Dear gentlewoman,
 How fares our gracious lady?
 As well as one so great and so forlorn
 May hold together. On her frights and griefs,
30 Which never tender lady hath borne greater,
 She is something before her time delivered.

The Winter’s Tale
ACT 2. SC. 2

 A boy?
EMILIA  A daughter, and a goodly babe,
 Lusty and like to live. The Queen receives
35 Much comfort in ’t, says “My poor prisoner,
 I am innocent as you.”
PAULINA  I dare be sworn.
 These dangerous unsafe lunes i’ th’ King, beshrew
40 He must be told on ’t, and he shall. The office
 Becomes a woman best. I’ll take ’t upon me.
 If I prove honey-mouthed, let my tongue blister
 And never to my red-looked anger be
 The trumpet anymore. Pray you, Emilia,
45 Commend my best obedience to the Queen.
 If she dares trust me with her little babe,
 I’ll show ’t the King and undertake to be
 Her advocate to th’ loud’st We do not know
 How he may soften at the sight o’ th’ child.
50 The silence often of pure innocence
 Persuades when speaking fails.
EMILIA  Most worthy madam,
 Your honor and your goodness is so evident
 That your free undertaking cannot miss
55 A thriving issue. There is no lady living
 So meet for this great errand. Please your Ladyship
 To visit the next room, I’ll presently
 Acquaint the Queen of your most noble offer,
 Who but today hammered of this design,
60 But durst not tempt a minister of honor
 Lest she should be denied.
PAULINA  Tell her, Emilia,
 I’ll use that tongue I have. If wit flow from ’t
 As boldness from my bosom, let ’t not be doubted
65 I shall do good.

The Winter’s Tale
ACT 2. SC. 3

EMILIA  Now be you blest for it!
 I’ll to the Queen. Please you come something
JAILER, to Paulina 
 Madam, if ’t please the Queen to send the babe,
70 I know not what I shall incur to pass it,
 Having no warrant.
PAULINA  You need not fear it, sir.
 This child was prisoner to the womb, and is
 By law and process of great nature thence
75 Freed and enfranchised, not a party to
 The anger of the King, nor guilty of,
 If any be, the trespass of the Queen.
JAILER I do believe it.
 Do not you fear. Upon mine honor, I
80 Will stand betwixt you and danger.
They exit.