Study Guide

The Winter's Tale

by William Shakespeare

The Winter's Tale Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Leontes

Leontes (lee-ON-teez), the king of Sicilia. For many years a close friend of King Polixenes of Bohemia, Leontes, curiously, becomes insanely jealous of him. Afraid of becoming a cuckold, he imprisons Hermione, wrests her son away from her, and attempts to murder Polixenes. When he learns that Hermione is pregnant, he rails; he calls his daughter a bastard and forces Antigonus to leave the child alone in a deserted area. Finally, coming to his senses, he realizes the awful truth. Through his jealousy, he loses his child, wife, and friends.

Polixenes

Polixenes (poh-LIHKS-eh-neez), the king of Bohemia. The innocent victim of Leontes’ wrath, he flees to his kingdom, bewildered by his friend’s outburst. Many years later, he is to meet Leontes under much happier circumstances.

Hermione

Hermione (hur-MI-uh-nee), the queen to Leontes and one of the noblest women in Shakespearean drama. Like Polixenes, she is baffled by Leontes’ jealousy. Imprisoned, with her children snatched away from her, she remains in hiding with Paulina, his devoted friend, until she is reunited with her family after sixteen years.

Perdita

Perdita (PUR-dih-tuh), the daughter of Leontes and Hermione. Luckily for her, after she is abandoned she is found by an old shepherd, who protects her as his own child until she is of marriageable age. Meeting young Prince Florizel of Bohemia, she falls in love with him. Later, she and her repentant father are reunited.

Paulina

Paulina (poh-LEE-nuh), the wife of Antigonus and lady in waiting to Hermione. Realizing the absurdity of Leontes’ accusations, the courageous woman upbraids him unmercifully for his blind cruelty to Hermione, whom she keeps hidden for sixteen years. Finally, through her efforts, husband and wife meet on a much happier note.

Camillo

Camillo (ka-MIHL-oh), a lord of Sicilia and Leontes’ trusted adviser, who realizes that Hermione is completely innocent of adultery. When ordered by Leontes to kill Polixenes, loyal, steadfast Camillo cannot murder a good king. Instead, he sails with Polixenes and serves him well for many years. Later, he returns to his beloved Sicilia.

Antigonus

Antigonus (an-TIHG-uh-nuhs), a lord of Sicilia and Paulina’s husband. Much against his will, this unhappy man is forced to abandon Perdita in a deserted wasteland. Unfortunately for this good man, who is aware of the king’s irrationality, he is killed and eaten by a bear; hence, the fate and whereabouts of Perdita remain unknown for many years.

Autolycus

Autolycus (oh-TOL-ih-kuhs), a rogue. A ballad-monger, he is a delightful scoundrel. Quick with a song, he is equally adept at stealing purses and, in general, at living by his quick wit.

Florizel

Florizel (FLOR-ih-zehl), the prince of Bohemia. In love with Perdita, he refuses to give her up, even though, in so doing, he angers his hot-tempered father, who does not want to see his son marry a girl of apparent low birth.

An old shepherd

An old shepherd, the reputed father of Perdita.

A clown

A clown, his oafish son.

Dion

Dion (DI-on) and

Cleomenes

Cleomenes (klee-OM-eh-neez), lords of Sicilia.

Mamillius

Mamillius (ma-MIHL-ee-uhs), the young prince of Sicilia, the son of Leontes and Hermione.

The Winter's Tale Characters

Archidamus
A Bohemian lord. He appears in the first scene and tells Camillo that Bohemia could not offer its guests...

(The entire section is 1047 words.)

The Winter's Tale Character Analysis

Antigonus (Character Analysis)

Antigonus is a Sicilian lord married to Paulina. He opposes the brutal way Leontes treats Hermione and the baby girl to which Hermione has...

(The entire section is 331 words.)

Autolycus (Character Analysis)

Autolycus is a rogue and a thief. He encounters the clown (Perdita's adoptive brother), who is on his way to buy goods for the sheep-shearing...

(The entire section is 729 words.)

Camillo (Character Analysis)

Camillo is a Sicilian lord and trusted advisor to Leontes. He agrees to poison Polixenes when Leontes insists that he do so. But Camillo...

(The entire section is 374 words.)

Hermione (Character Analysis)

Hermione is the queen of Sicilia, Leontes's wife. Leontes asks her to try and convince Polixenes to extend his visit in Sicilia a bit longer,...

(The entire section is 836 words.)

Leontes (Character Analysis)

Leontes is the king of Sicilia. His jealousy of Hermione and Polixenes precipitates the tragedy of the first part of the play. He acts...

(The entire section is 913 words.)

Perdita (Character Analysis)

Perdita is the daughter of Hermione and Leontes, born while her mother was held in prison at the direction of Perdita's father who thought...

(The entire section is 373 words.)

Polixenes (Character Analysis)

Polixenes is the king of Bohemia. At the beginning of the play, he is visiting Leontes, the king of Sicilia. The two kings have been friends...

(The entire section is 345 words.)

Paulina (Character Analysis)

Paulina is the wife of Antigonus. When she learns that Leontes has imprisoned Hermione on charges of adultery, Paulina goes to the prison to...

(The entire section is 759 words.)

Other Characters (Descriptions)

Party scene in Stratford Festival production (1986) Published by Gale Cengage

Archidamus
Archidamus is a Bohemian lord, part of Polixenes's entourage visiting the palace of Leontes in Sicilia. He...

(The entire section is 2739 words.)