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The Winter's Tale Scenes

Scene 3

A chapel in Paulina’s house.

(Leontes; Polixenes; Florizel; Perdita; Camillo; Paulina; Lords; Hermione)

Leontes thanks Paulina for having been a comfort to him, and Paulina greets him to her house. She reveals the statue of Hermione. All are awed and amazed by it, particularly the fact that the sculptor has even added sixteen years to her face to make her look as though she had aged along with them all. Leontes feels his shame yet more keenly and Perdita, struck by the statue’s lifelikeness, kneels as if for her mother’s blessing. Paulina prevents anyone from touching the statue, as it has only just been painted and might smear. Leontes is deeply moved, swearing that he can almost see the statue breathe. Paulina tells him that, if he has the strength to witness it, she can make the statue move. Leontes begs her to do so, promising not to think it caused by witchcraft. Paulina calls for music, and calls to the statue, telling her it is time. Hermione comes down from the plinth, and takes Leontes’s hand, who is amazed to find it warm. Hermione wordlessly embraces him, and when Perdita kneels at her feet gives her mother’s blessing. As she begins to ask questions about where Perdita has been, Paulina tells them all that things will be explained, but that she is leaving to grieve over Antigonus’s death. Leontes tells her to stay, and to join in their joy by suggesting that she marry Camillo, who has been pining for her. All reconciled, they leave to discuss events further. (184 lines)

Enter Leontes, Polixenes, Florizel, Perdita, Camillo, Paulina, Lords, etc.


O grave and good Paulina, the great comfort

That I have had of thee!


What, sovereign sir,

I did not well, I meant well. All my services

You have paid home; but that you have vouchsaf’d,

With your crown’d brother and these your contracted

Heirs of your kingdoms, my poor house to visit,

It is a surplus of your grace, which never

My life may last to answer.


O Paulina,

We honor you with trouble; but we came

To see the statue of our queen. Your gallery

Have we pass’d through, not without much content

In many singularities; but we saw not

That which my daughter came to look upon,

The statue of her mother.


As she liv’d peerless,

So her dead likeness, I do well believe,

Excels what ever yet you look’d upon,

Or hand of man hath done; therefore I keep it

Lonely, apart. But here it is; prepare

To see the life as lively mock’d as ever

Still sleep mock’d death. Behold, and say ’tis well.

Paulina draws a curtain, and discovers Hermione standing like a statue. HER.

I like your silence, it the more shows off

Your wonder; but yet speak. First, you, my liege;

Comes it not something near?


Her natural posture!

Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed

Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she

In thy not chiding; for she was as tender

As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina,

Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing

So aged as this seems.


O, not by much.


So much the more our carver’s excellence,

Which lets go by some sixteen years, and makes her

As she liv’d now.


As now she might have done,

So much to my good comfort as it is

Now piercing to my soul. O, thus she stood,

Even with such life of majesty (warm life,

As now it coldly stands), when first I woo’d her!

I am asham’d; does not the stone rebuke me

For being more stone than it? O royal piece,

There’s magic in thy majesty, which has

My evils conjur’d to remembrance, and

From thy admiring daughter took the spirits,

Standing like stone with thee.


And give me leave,

And do not say ’tis superstition, that

I kneel, and then implore her blessing. Lady,

Dear queen, that ended when I but began,

Give me that hand of yours to kiss.


O, patience!

The statue is but newly fix’d; the color’s

Not dry.


My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,

Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,

So many summers dry. Scarce any joy

Did ever so long live; no sorrow

But kill’d itself much sooner.


Dear my brother,

Let him that was the cause of this have pow’r

To take off so much grief from you as he

Will piece up in himself.


Indeed, my lord,

If I had thought the sight of my poor image

Would thus have wrought you (for the stone is mine),

I’ld not have show’d it.


Do not draw the curtain.


No longer shall you gaze on’t, lest your fancy

May think anon it moves.


Let be, let be.

Would I were dead but that methinks already—

What was he that did make it? See, my lord,

Would you not deem it breath’d? And that those veins

Did verily bear blood?


Masterly done!

The very life seems warm upon her lip.


The fixure of her eye has motion in’t,

As we are mock’d with art.


I’ll draw the curtain.

My lord’s almost so far transported that

He’ll think anon it lives.


O sweet Paulina,

Make me to think so twenty years together!

No settled senses of the world can match

The pleasure of that madness. Let’t alone.


I am sorry, sir, I have thus far stirr’d you; but

I could afflict you farther.


Do, Paulina;

For this affliction has a taste as sweet

As any cordial comfort. Still methinks

There is an air comes from her. What fine chisel

Could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock me,

For I will kiss her.


Good my lord, forbear.

The ruddiness upon her lip is wet;

You’ll mar it if you kiss it; stain your own

With oily painting. Shall I draw the curtain?


No! Not these twenty years.


So long could I

Stand by, a looker-on.


Either forbear,

Quit presently the chapel, or resolve you

For more amazement. If you can behold it,

I’ll make the statue move indeed, descend,

And take you by the hand; but then you’ll think

(Which I protest against) I am assisted

By wicked powers.


What you can make her do,

I am content to look on; what to speak,

I am content to hear; for ’tis as easy

To make her speak as move.


It is requir’d

You do awake your faith. Then, all stand still.

On; those that think it is unlawful business

I am about, let them depart.



No foot shall stir.


Music! Awake her! Strike!


’Tis time; descend; be stone no more; approach;

Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come;

I’ll fill your grave up. Stir; nay, come away;

Bequeath to death your numbness; for from him

Dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs.

Hermione comes down.

Start not; her actions shall be holy, as

You hear my spell is lawful. Do not shun her

Until you see her die again, for then

You kill her double. Nay, present your hand.

When she was young, you woo’d her; now, in age,

Is she become the suitor?


O, she’s warm!

If this be magic, let it be an art

Lawful as eating.


She embraces him.


She hangs about his neck.

If she pertain to life let her speak too.


Ay, and make it manifest where she has liv’d,

Or how stol’n from the dead.


That she is living,

Were it but told you, should be hooted at

Like an old tale; but it appears she lives,

Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while.

Please you to interpose, fair madam, kneel,

And pray your mother’s blessing. Turn, good lady,

Our Perdita is found.


You gods, look down

And from your sacred vials pour your graces

Upon my daughter’s head! Tell me, mine own,

Where hast thou been preserv’d? Where liv’d? How found

Thy father’s court? For thou shalt hear that I,

Knowing by Paulina that the oracle

Gave hope thou wast in being, have preserv’d

Myself to see the issue.


There’s time enough for that;

Least they desire (upon this push) to trouble

Your joys with like relation. Go together,

You precious winners all; your exultation

Partake to every one. I, an old turtle,

Will wing me to some wither’d bough, and there

My mate (that’s never to be found again)

Lament till I am lost.


O, peace, Paulina!

Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,

As I by thine a wife: this is a match,

And made between ’s by vows. Thou hast found mine,

But how, is to be question’d; for I saw her

(As I thought) dead; and have (in vain) said many

A prayer upon her grave. I’ll not seek far

(For him, I partly know his mind) to find thee

An honorable husband. Come, Camillo,

And take her by the hand, whose worth and honesty

Is richly noted; and here justified

By us, a pair of kings. Let’s from this place.

What? Look upon my brother. Both your pardons,

That e’er I put between your holy looks

My ill suspicion. This’ your son-in-law,

And son unto the King, whom heavens directing

Is troth-plight to your daughter. Good Paulina,

Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely

Each one demand, and answer to his part

Perform’d in this wide gap of time, since first

We were dissever’d. Hastily lead away.



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