Discuss the role and characterization of Florizel in The Winter's Tale.

Florizel, the son of King Polixenes, falls in love with Perdita. His idealism creates a conflict with his father, who upbraids the youth for placing his romantic fancies over his duty to family. The couple’s loving devotion compels them to flee to Sicilia. After the apparent problem of the class differences between the young people is resolved, the prince can resume his proper status and stay loyal to his beloved.

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The character of Florizel in The Winter’s Tale is a prince whose father is King Polixenes of Bohemia. Florizel is smitten with the lovely young Perdita. Florizel is presented as an idealistic, and therefore impractical, man whose better judgment is swept aside by his romantic attachment to Perdita. Although he knows that he is expected to pair up with a woman from his own background, he insists that her being a peasant is irrelevant.

The innocence and purity of the love between Florizel and Perdita is developed within the pastoral setting, as he plays at being a rustic. However, Florizel’s attitude and behavior incur the wrath of his father, who takes a dim view of his son getting involved with a shepherdess. Beyond mere disapproval, Polixenes threatens violent harm to the girl and her father, and actually takes the shepherd prisoner.

In many regards, Florizel’s stance and the young lovers’ story provides a foil to the main plot, in which Leontes is obsessed with appearances and destroys his marriage because he believes rumors. Florizel is not merely trusting and constant, but so committed to Perdita that he is willing to abandon his home country for her.

Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the shepherd is not Perdita’s father; instead, he rescued the abandoned child and raised her as his own. Florizel is proven not to be so foolish: his instincts were correct, as it is finally revealed that Perdita is actually a princess—her parents are Leontes, Polixenes’s former friend, and Hermione.

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