The Winter's Tale :: Characters

The Winter's Tale Characters

Leontes is the King of Sicily. We do not know what he is like in ordinary times, for he is struck by an almost insane fit of jealousy soon after the play begins. 


Mamillius is Leontes’s and Hermione’s son. He is a prince, beloved by all Sicilians, all of whom are waiting to see him grown.


Camillo is a highly honorable, honest, and loyal Sicilian lord, though he is not above a little trickery in a good cause. 


Antigonus is a lord at Leontes’s court. He is married to Paulina, and has three daughters. 


Cleomines is one of the Sicilian lords sent to Delphi to ask Apollo’s oracle for a verdict on Hermione’s case. 


Dion is one of the Sicilian lords sent to Delphi to ask Apollo’s oracle for a verdict on Hermione’s case. 


Polixenes is the King of Bohemia. He is a close childhood friend of Leontes’s, and is willing to abandon his kingdom for nine months to visit the latter.


Florizel is Polixenes’s son. He is deeply in love with Perdita, whom he visits disguised as a countryman; to all but her he goes by the name of Doricles.


Archidamus is a Bohemian lord, part of Polixenes’s suite when the latter visits Sicily. 


The Old Shepherd is a Bohemian. At the age of 67, searching for sheep, he comes across the baby Perdita and adopts her. 


The Clown is the Old Shepherd’s son. He is, to put it charitably, not the brightest of fellows, but he is good-natured. 


Autolycus is a short rogue, formerly one of Florizel’s servants. A consummate conman and pickpocket, he sings a great deal, both for his own pleasure and as part of his cons. 


A Mariner is captain of the ship that bears Antigonus and the baby to the shores of Bohemia. 


A Jailer appears sympathetic to Paulina, but follows his orders to the letter.


Hermione is Leontes’s wife, and the daughter of the Emperor of Russia. 


Perdita is Hermione’s and Leontes’s daughter, though she is unaware of this. 


Paulina is Antigonus’s wife. She is an authoritative, upstanding, courageous and highly moral woman willing to risk her life for what she believes is right. 


Emilia is one of Hermione’s ladies, allowed to attend on the Queen as she gives birth. She convinces Hermione to trust Paulina’s plan to show the baby to Leontes.


Mopsa is a shepherdess being wooed by the Clown, who has promised her some trinkets if she would come to the feast with him. 


Dorcas is a shepherdess, who claims that the Clown has promised more to her than to Mopsa. She loves a good ballad and enjoys singing.


Time, the Chorus serves as a bridge for the sixteen years that pass between Acts One and Four. 


The First Lady is one of Hermione’s suite, and enjoys teasing Mamillius, though he claims she treats him too much like a baby. 


The Second Lady is one of Hermione’s suite. Mamillius prefers her to the First. Her hair is darker than the First Lady’s. (She too may be Emilia.)


The Officer is the highest official in Hermione’s trial other than the King, charged with reading the indictment and administering oaths, as well as reading the oracle.


The First Gentleman was present at the opening of the fardel that was found with Perdita, but was sent away before he could witness the whole scene of reconciliation.


The Second Gentleman (Ruggiero) hears that the oracle has been fulfilled, but wants confirmation of the tale.


The Third Gentleman is Paulina’s steward, and as such was present during the whole reconciliation scene between the kings, when Perdita’s identity is discovered. He was very moved by the scene, and remembers some very specific details.



The First Lord at Leontes’s court witnessed Polixenes’s flight with Camillo. 

The Servant of the Old Shepherd is very enthusiastic about all comers to the feast, be they peddlers or dancers. 


The First Servant is charged with reporting on Mamillius’s condition when the boy falls ill, and announces the child's death.


The Second Servant is among those who try to restrain Paulina from bursting in on the King. 


The Third Servant announces Cleomenes and Dion’s return.


Twelve Satyrs come to dance at the sheep-shearing festival.


Shepherds and Shepherdesses come to the sheep-shearing festival, where they dance, listen to ballads, have a merry time – along with having their pockets picked.


A Gentleman Attendant [mute role] attends on Paulina when she visits the prison.


A Bear lives by the seacoast of Bohemia, and makes a meal of Antigonus.



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