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20 Cards in this Set

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The King of Sicilia, and the childhood friend of the Bohemian King Polixenes. He is gripped by jealous fantasies, which convince him that Polixenes has been having an affair with his wife, Hermione; his jealousy leads to the destruction of his family.


The virtuous and beautiful Queen of Sicilia. Falsely accused of infidelity by her husband, Leontes, she apparently dies of grief just after being vindicated by the Oracle of Delphi, but is restored to life at the play's close.


The daughter of Leontes and Hermione. Because her father believes her to be illegitimate, she is abandoned as a baby on the coast of Bohemia, and brought up by a Shepherd. Unaware of her royal lineage, she falls in love with the Bohemian Prince Florizel.

Polixenes -

Polixenes - The King of Bohemia, and Leontes's boyhood friend. He is falsely accused of having an affair with Leontes's wife, and barely escapes Sicilia with his life. Much later in life, he sees his only son fall in love with a lowly Shepherd's daughter—who is, in fact, a Sicilian princess.

Florizel -

Polixenes's only son and heir; he falls in love with Perdita, unaware of her royal ancestry, and defies his father by eloping with her.

Camillo -

An honest Sicilian nobleman, he refuses to follow Leontes's order to poison Polixenes, deciding instead to flee Sicily and enter the Bohemian King's service.

Paulina -

A noblewoman of Sicily, she is fierce in her defense of Hermione's virtue, and unrelenting in her condemnation of Leontes after Hermione's death. She is also the agent of the (apparently) dead Queen's resurrection.

Autolycus -

A roguish peddler, vagabond, and pickpocket; he steals the Clown's purse and does a great deal of pilfering at the Shepherd's sheepshearing, but ends by assisting in Perdita and Florizel's escape.

Shepherd -

An old and honorable sheep-tender, he finds Perdita as a baby and raises her as his own daughter.

Antigonus -

Paulina's husband, and also a loyal defender of Hermione. He is given the unfortunate task of abandoning the baby Perdita on the Bohemian coast.

Clown -

The Shepherd's buffoonish son, and Perdita's adopted brother.

-Mamillius -

The young prince of Sicilia, Leontes and Hermione's son. He dies, perhaps of grief, after his father wrongly imprisons his mother.

Cleomenes -

A lord of Sicilia, sent to Delphi to ask the Oracle about Hermione's guilt.

Dion -

A Sicilian lord, he accompanies Cleomenes to Delphi.

Emilia -

One of Hermione's ladies-in-waiting.

Archidamus -

A lord of Bohemia.

Plot structure comendy

•A lesson is learned; the status quo is maintained.

•Comedies usually end with a group celebration•The person upsetting the social accord reforms. •The play ends with a sense of expectation for the future

Plot structure Tragedy

•The conflict is resolved with the deathof the main character

•Ascene of lamentation by several characters who reflect upon the meaning of theprotagonist’s death.

•Theplay ends looking back at what has happened with a sense of regret.

Two major themes: Jealousy

The first three acts of The Winter’s Tale are a study of jealousy and its destructive effects. In the play, Leontes’s sudden and unfounded fear that his pregnant wife is sleeping with his best friend eats away at him like a disease. Leontes’s wild jealousy is often compared to that of Othello. Both men unfairly suspect their wives of infidelity and their violent responses destroy their families and upset the political balance. The differences, however, are significant. Unlike Othello, Leontes convinces himself of his wife’s “affair” all by himself – there’s no Iago figure whispering in his ear and goading him along. (If anything, Leontes is his own Iago.) More importantly, Leontes’s abuse of his family is not entirely permanent, unlike Othello’s. After repenting and suffering for sixteen long years, Leontes is reunited with his wife and long-lost daughter, which puts a redemptive spin on The Winter’s Tale, whereasOthello is just plain tragic.

Theme friendship

The Winter’s Tale examines the nature of male friendship. Bromance was a pretty big deal in the Renaissance and was valued above marriage and other male-female relationships. In the play, the friendship between Leontes and Polixenes is portrayed as an ideal bond that developed during the innocence of childhood and was interrupted by their adolescent interest in women and sex. As adults, Leontes’s friendship with Polixenes is characterized by rivalry and Leontes’s jealous fears that his wife has come between them. There are examples of female friendship in the play (most notably, Paulina’s fierce loyalty to Hermione), but bromance is given much more attention.