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The Winter’s Tale
Act 4, scene 2

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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 Polixenes and Camillo.

POLIXENES I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more
 importunate. ’Tis a sickness denying thee anything,
 a death to grant this.
CAMILLO It is fifteen years since I saw my country.
5 Though I have for the most part been aired abroad,
 I desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent
 king, my master, hath sent for me, to whose feeling
 sorrows I might be some allay—or I o’erween to
 think so—which is another spur to my departure.
POLIXENES 10As thou lov’st me, Camillo, wipe not out the
 rest of thy services by leaving me now. The need I
 have of thee thine own goodness hath made. Better
 not to have had thee than thus to want thee. Thou,
 having made me businesses which none without
15 thee can sufficiently manage, must either stay to
 execute them thyself or take away with thee the very
 services thou hast done, which if I have not enough
 considered, as too much I cannot, to be more
 thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit
20 therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal country

123
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Sicilia, prithee speak no more, whose very
 naming punishes me with the remembrance of that
 penitent, as thou call’st him, and reconciled king
 my brother, whose loss of his most precious queen
25 and children are even now to be afresh lamented.
 Say to me, when sawst thou the Prince Florizell, my
 son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not
 being gracious, than they are in losing them when
 they have approved their virtues.
CAMILLO 30Sir, it is three days since I saw the Prince.
 What his happier affairs may be are to me unknown,
 but I have missingly noted he is of late
 much retired from court and is less frequent to his
 princely exercises than formerly he hath appeared.
POLIXENES 35I have considered so much, Camillo, and
 with some care, so far that I have eyes under my
 service which look upon his removedness, from
 whom I have this intelligence: that he is seldom
 from the house of a most homely shepherd, a man,
40 they say, that from very nothing, and beyond the
 imagination of his neighbors, is grown into an
 unspeakable estate.
CAMILLO I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a
 daughter of most rare note. The report of her is
45 extended more than can be thought to begin from
 such a cottage.
POLIXENES That’s likewise part of my intelligence, but,
 I fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou
 shalt accompany us to the place, where we will, not
50 appearing what we are, have some question with
 the shepherd, from whose simplicity I think it not
 uneasy to get the cause of my son’s resort thither.
 Prithee be my present partner in this business, and
 lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.
CAMILLO 55I willingly obey your command.

125
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 3

POLIXENES My best Camillo. We must disguise
 ourselves.
They exit.