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The Winter's Tale Characters

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

At the age of sixteen, she is named as queen of a sheep-shearing feast, and takes it well in hand, though her ‘father’ accuses her of not being as good at it as his late wife was. She is in love with Florizel, Polixenes’s son, and he with her. She is aware of the difference in their ranks, and frightened of it. She is not shy, however, and willing enough to discuss the ethics of cross-breeding flowers with strangers. When Polixenes reveals himself and insults her as an enchantress and lower-class, she holds her tongue even though she is tempted to tell him that they live in the same world. 

Like her mother, she mixes spirit and demureness, is consciously submissive rather than naturally so, and is intelligent. She can be convinced to pretend to be a Libyan princess when she and Florizel flee to Sicily. This is when Perdita discovers that her father is not her father, but that she is a foundling; that she is in fact Leontes’s daughter; and that he had her abandoned in a desert place when she was a day old. Her reaction to this latter fact is not recorded.

Perdita’s natural, inherited nobility shines through even when she is believed to be a mere shepherdess. She does not approve of bad language, is a good dancer, resembles her mother and is found beautiful by all men who see her. Paulina thinks her far less beautiful than Hermione, however. Whether this is true or merely another reprimand to Leontes is in the eye of the beholder. She is subject to seasickness.


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