The Winter's Tale (2015) - Stuff that Happens in the Play


• Leontes, the King of Sicilia, has been entertaining his childhood friend, Polixenes, the King of Bohemia, for nine months. Leontes asks his wife Hermione to persuade Polixenes to delay his departure for home a little longer.

• Suddenly, Leontes is overcome with the belief that his wife has been having an affair with Polixenes and that the child she is about to have is Polixenes’s bastard.

• Leontes orders Hermione’s arrest and separates her from their young son, Mamillius. Leontes then orders his councilor, Camillo, to murder Polixenes. Instead, Camillo warns Polixenes and the two of them escape to Bohemia.

• Hermione delivers a baby daughter while in prison, and her attendant Paulina, enraged at Leontes’s accusations against her lady, brings the infant to Leontes and pleads with him to reconsider.

• Leontes’s only concession is to ask the god Apollo (through the Oracle at Delphi) to decide his wife’s guilt or innocence. He tells Paulina’s husband, Antigonus, to remove the infant girl and abandon her “to some remote and desert place.” Meanwhile, lonely for his mother, Mamillius falls ill.

• Hermione goes on trial and the messengers from the Oracle arrive. Apollo proclaims that “Hermione is chaste, Polixenes blameless, Camillo a true subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant.”

• Leontes rejects Apollo’s declaration as “mere falsehood,” Hermione collapses and is pronounced dead; news comes that their son Mamillius has also died.

• Leontes begs Apollo’s forgiveness.

• Meanwhile, as a storm is brewing, Antigonus arrives on a seacoast with the baby girl; a bear finds Antigonus and a shepherd finds the baby.

• A Chorus in the person of Time announces that sixteen years have passed and that the abandoned girl, named Perdita, has grown up in the home of the shepherd. Polixenes, suspecting his son Florizel is in love, disguises himself to spy on the situation at the annual sheep shearing festival.

• Autolycus, a musical scoundrel and pickpocket, tricks the shepherd’s son, who is on his way to the festival.

• During the festival, the King finds out that his son is in love with a “shepherdess” (Perdita) and forbids it. Camillo helps the young lovers flee to Sicilia.

• Unions, reunions, and wonders ensue.