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The Winter’s Tale
Act 3, scene 3

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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 3
Enter Antigonus carrying the babe, and a Mariner.

ANTIGONUS 
 Thou art perfect, then, our ship hath touched upon
 The deserts of Bohemia?

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ACT 3. SC. 3

MARINER  Ay, my lord, and fear
 We have landed in ill time. The skies look grimly
5 And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,
 The heavens with that we have in hand are angry
 And frown upon ’s.
ANTIGONUS 
 Their sacred wills be done. Go, get aboard.
 Look to thy bark. I’ll not be long before
10 I call upon thee.
MARINER  Make your best haste, and go not
 Too far i’ th’ land. ’Tis like to be loud weather.
 Besides, this place is famous for the creatures
 Of prey that keep upon ’t.
ANTIGONUS 15 Go thou away.
 I’ll follow instantly.
MARINER  I am glad at heart
 To be so rid o’ th’ business.He exits.
ANTIGONUS  Come, poor babe.
20 I have heard, but not believed, the spirits o’ th’ dead
 May walk again. If such thing be, thy mother
 Appeared to me last night, for ne’er was dream
 So like a waking. To me comes a creature,
 Sometimes her head on one side, some another.
25 I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
 So filled and so becoming. In pure white robes,
 Like very sanctity, she did approach
 My cabin where I lay, thrice bowed before me,
 And, gasping to begin some speech, her eyes
30 Became two spouts. The fury spent, anon
 Did this break from her: “Good Antigonus,
 Since fate, against thy better disposition,
 Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
 Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,
35 Places remote enough are in Bohemia.
 There weep, and leave it crying. And, for the babe
 Is counted lost forever, Perdita

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ACT 3. SC. 3

 I prithee call ’t. For this ungentle business
 Put on thee by my lord, thou ne’er shalt see
40 Thy wife Paulina more.” And so, with shrieks,
 She melted into air. Affrighted much,
 I did in time collect myself and thought
 This was so and no slumber. Dreams are toys,
 Yet for this once, yea, superstitiously,
45 I will be squared by this. I do believe
 Hermione hath suffered death, and that
 Apollo would, this being indeed the issue
 Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,
 Either for life or death, upon the earth
50 Of its right father.—Blossom, speed thee well.
 There lie, and there thy character; there these,
He lays down the baby, a bundle, and a box.
 Which may, if fortune please, both breed thee, pretty,
 And still rest thine. Thunder. The storm begins.
 Poor wretch,
55 That for thy mother’s fault art thus exposed
 To loss and what may follow. Weep I cannot,
 But my heart bleeds, and most accurst am I
 To be by oath enjoined to this. Farewell.
 The day frowns more and more. Thou ’rt like to have
60 A lullaby too rough. I never saw
 The heavens so dim by day.
Thunder, and sounds of hunting.
 A savage clamor!
 Well may I get aboard! This is the chase.
 I am gone forever!He exits, pursued by a bear.

Enter Shepherd.

SHEPHERD 65I would there were no age between ten and
 three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the
 rest, for there is nothing in the between but getting
 wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing,

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ACT 3. SC. 3

 fighting—Hark you now. Would any but these
70 boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt
 this weather? They have scared away two of my best
 sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find than
 the master. If anywhere I have them, ’tis by the
 seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an ’t be thy will,
75 what have we here? Mercy on ’s, a bairn! A very
 pretty bairn. A boy or a child, I wonder? A pretty
 one, a very pretty one. Sure some scape. Though I
 am not bookish, yet I can read waiting-gentlewoman
 in the scape. This has been some stair-work,
80 some trunk-work, some behind-door work. They
 were warmer that got this than the poor thing is
 here. I’ll take it up for pity. Yet I’ll tarry till my son
 come. He halloed but even now.—Whoa-ho-ho!

Enter Shepherd’s Son.

SHEPHERD’S SON Hilloa, loa!
SHEPHERD 85What, art so near? If thou ’lt see a thing to
 talk on when thou art dead and rotten, come hither.
 What ail’st thou, man?
SHEPHERD’S SON I have seen two such sights, by sea
 and by land—but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is
90 now the sky; betwixt the firmament and it, you
 cannot thrust a bodkin’s point.
SHEPHERD Why, boy, how is it?
SHEPHERD’S SON I would you did but see how it chafes,
 how it rages, how it takes up the shore. But that’s
95 not to the point. O, the most piteous cry of the poor
 souls! Sometimes to see ’em, and not to see ’em.
 Now the ship boring the moon with her mainmast,
 and anon swallowed with yeast and froth, as you’d
 thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land
100 service, to see how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone,
 how he cried to me for help, and said his

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ACT 3. SC. 3

 name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an
 end of the ship: to see how the sea flap-dragoned it.
 But, first, how the poor souls roared and the sea
105 mocked them, and how the poor gentleman roared
 and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than
 the sea or weather.
SHEPHERD Name of mercy, when was this, boy?
SHEPHERD’S SON Now, now. I have not winked since I
110 saw these sights. The men are not yet cold under
 water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman.
 He’s at it now.
SHEPHERD Would I had been by to have helped the old
 man.
SHEPHERD’S SON 115I would you had been by the ship side,
 to have helped her. There your charity would have
 lacked footing.
SHEPHERD Heavy matters, heavy matters. But look
 thee here, boy. Now bless thyself. Thou met’st with
120 things dying, I with things newborn. Here’s a sight
 for thee. Look thee, a bearing cloth for a squire’s
 child. Look thee here. Take up, take up, boy. Open
 ’t. So, let’s see. It was told me I should be rich by
 the fairies. This is some changeling. Open ’t. What’s
125 within, boy?
SHEPHERD’S SON, opening the box  You’re a made old
 man. If the sins of your youth are forgiven you,
 you’re well to live. Gold, all gold.
SHEPHERD This is fairy gold, boy, and ’twill prove so.
130 Up with ’t, keep it close. Home, home, the next way.
 We are lucky, boy, and to be so still requires
 nothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go. Come, good
 boy, the next way home.
SHEPHERD’S SON Go you the next way with your
135 findings. I’ll go see if the bear be gone from the
 gentleman and how much he hath eaten. They are

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ACT 3. SC. 3

 never curst but when they are hungry. If there be
 any of him left, I’ll bury it.
SHEPHERD That’s a good deed. If thou mayest discern
140 by that which is left of him what he is, fetch me to
 th’ sight of him.
SHEPHERD’S SON Marry, will I, and you shall help to
 put him i’ th’ ground.
SHEPHERD ’Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good
145 deeds on ’t.
They exit.