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The Winter's Tale Characters

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

Very much aware of her dignity, she has a son, Mamillius, and is nine months’ pregnant at the start of the play. She is persuasive, able to convince Polixenes to remain an extra week, and easy to enter in conversation with. Though exhausted at times by her son’s energy, she enjoys having him tell her stories.

When she is suddenly attacked by an irrational Leontes accusing her of adultery, she had first believes this to be a misunderstanding, but on realizing that he is in earnest she submits to his will, though refusing to speak any word that might suggest her guilt. She gives birth to a daughter in prison and is willing to trust Paulina with her, but this is the last time she sees the child. She is not fully recovered from childbirth when she is brought to court to answer the charges against her. Her pride is evident as she lists all the wrongs done to her and states that she is fighting for her honor, not her life. When the news of her son’s death arrives, she is however overcome. 

Whether she dies at this point is a matter of opinion. She is seems so and is accepted as such, and what seems to be her ghost appears to Antigonus to tell him what to do with her child, but 16 years later appears as a statue which is revived. Either she was dead, and her statue brought to life; or she hid away for sixteen years, posed as a statue to hear Leontes’s remorse, and then decided to return to life. Each production must make up its own mind, though the evidence tends to point towards the latter interpretation. It should be noted is that though she takes Leontes’s hand in this scene, she does not speak to him, only to her daughter. However, she also will not look at Polixenes until Leontes bids her to.


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