The Winter’s Tale minimized

The play opens in Sicilia, where its king, Leontes, and his wife, Hermione, are serving as hosts to Polixenes, the king of Bohemia.  The kings are long time friends. Leontes wants his friend to extend his stay, Polixenes claiming “my affairs drag me homeward.”  Hermione actively joins in her husband’s effort, a little too actively as it turns out. 

1. Referring to Polixenes, Hermione tells her husband “he’ll stay my lord.” However, Leontes responds skeptically, saying “she does too playfully touch his hand.” Believing his wife and Polixenes have been having an affair, Leontes calls his aide Camillo forward, demanding he kill Polixenes. Camillo defects to Polixenes, recognizing he “faces ruin whether or not he poisons Polixenes.”  Polixenes and Camillo leave for Bohemia. 

2. We learn that Hermione is pregnant. Their son, Mamillius, offers to tell his mom a “merry tale” saying “a sad tale’s best for winter.” Leontes calls his wife an “adult’ress.” Hermione is sent to prison and there has a daughter. Hermione’s aide, Paulina, takes the baby to Leontes. He rejects her, demanding his aide, Paulina’s husband, take the baby and “bear it to some remote and desert place and there leave it.” 

3. Hermione defends herself in court beautifully. We learn Mamillius has died.  Hermione collapses.  She’s carried out, Paulina claiming that she has died.  The aide leaves the baby and a box of gold in the “deserts of Bohemia.” A bear runs the aide down, killing him. A Shepherd finds the child. The son sees the box of gold, saying to his father “you’re well to live. Gold, all gold.” They leave for home.

4. Father Time tells us sixteen years have elapsed. Polixenes’ son, Florizell, is paying attention to the Shepherd’s daughter, Perdita, who has “now grown in grace equal to the wonder she inspires in others.” Camillo is homesick for Sicilia. Polixenes is very upset that his son is paying so much attention to a Shepherd’s daughter. Florizell and Perdita decide to sail away. Camillo suggests that the three of them “make for Sicilia.” The Shepherd and his son get talked into getting “onboard the prince’s ship.” The son tells his father “there is no other way but to tell the king she’s a child left by the fairies and none of your flesh and blood.”

5. Florizell and Perdita arrive in Sicilia and are greeted by Leontes.  We learn that “the king’s daughter is found.” Paulina, drawing everyone together, draws a curtain “to reveal Hermione as a statue.” All is quiet. Paulina says “music, awake her.” Hermione stirs. Leontes says “O, she is warm.” Hermione embraces Leontes. Perdita kneels. Paulina says “go together, you precious winners all.” Leontes suggests to Paulina that Camillo will make her a trusted and worthy husband.

 

 

Copyright © 2010 Minimized Shakespeare

Home