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The Winter’s Tale
Act 4, scene 1

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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 1
Enter Time, the Chorus.

TIME 
 I, that please some, try all—both joy and terror
 Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error—
 Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
 To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
5 To me or my swift passage that I slide
 O’er sixteen years, and leave the growth untried
 Of that wide gap, since it is in my power
 To o’erthrow law and in one self-born hour
 To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass
10 The same I am ere ancient’st order was
 Or what is now received. I witness to
 The times that brought them in. So shall I do
 To th’ freshest things now reigning, and make stale
 The glistering of this present, as my tale
15 Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
 I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
 As you had slept between. Leontes leaving,
 Th’ effects of his fond jealousies so grieving
 That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
20 Gentle spectators, that I now may be
 In fair Bohemia. And remember well
 I mentioned a son o’ th’ King’s, which Florizell
 I now name to you, and with speed so pace
119

121
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 2

 To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
25 Equal with wond’ring. What of her ensues
 I list not prophesy; but let Time’s news
 Be known when ’tis brought forth. A shepherd’s
 daughter
 And what to her adheres, which follows after,
30 Is th’ argument of Time. Of this allow,
 If ever you have spent time worse ere now.
 If never, yet that Time himself doth say
 He wishes earnestly you never may.
He exits.