The Winter's Tale Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale is a Shakespearean romance with a symmetrical division into two halves of tragedy and comedy. The tragic first half takes place almost entirely in Sicilia, where King Polixenes of Bohemia has been a guest of King Leontes for nine months. Polixenes decides to go back home but relents when Hermione, Leontes's pregnant wife, pleads with him to stay longer. Leontes becomes jealous in his belief that Polixenes and Hermione have been lovers, and orders Camillo, his royal retainer, to kill Polixenes. Camillo warns Polixenes of Leontes's treacherous intentions and the two men flee Sicilia immediately.
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Driven to madness at the escape of the two men, Leontes accuses his wife of lechery, throws her into prison, and pronounces the child she is bearing to be illegitimate. Leontes then sends a message to the Oracle of Delphi, sure that she will confirm his suspicions. The queen gives birth to a girl in prison. The baby is brought to Leontes by the queen's friend, Paulina, hoping to soften the king's heart. Leontes, however, grows angrier and orders Antigonus, Paulina's husband, to take the baby and abandon it in the wild. After Antigonus leaves, though, the answer comes from the Oracle that the queen had been innocent, and that Leontes will have no heir until he finds his now lost daughter. The news arrives that the king's only son has died. Hermione falls in a swoon and is carried off by Paulina who later reports her death to the repentant king.

Meanwhile, in the second, comic half of the play, Antigonus abandons the baby (whom he names Perdita, meaning “the lost girl”), along with gold and other tokens of her nobility, on the Bohemian coast. Antigonus is then killed by a bear and Perdita is found and raised by a shepherd. After sixteen years pass we find that Florizel, the son of Polixenes has fallen in love with the shepherdess Perdita. Polixenes intervenes and orders his son never to see the shepherdess again, but with the aid of Camillo, Florizel and Perdita leave for Sicilia, disguised in the robes of Autolycus, a local rogue.

Still in mourning, Leontes receives the son of his old friend who tells him he is on a diplomatic mission. Soon after, the story of how Perdita was found by a shepherd is revealed and Leontes realizes that she is his daughter. Everyone then goes to Paulina's house to see a recently completed statue of Hermione. To everyone's amazement the statue comes to life, revealing that Hermione had not died but had been kept alive by Paulina. Florizel and Perdita are married, Paulina and Camillo are engaged, and the play ends with everyone celebrating Hermione's restoration to life.

The review of this Book prepared by Billy Pashaie

Chapter Analysis of The Winter's Tale

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Life of a profession:    -   king/queen/royalty Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Job/Profession/Status story    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   dictator Age:    -   40's-50's


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () Europe    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes Weird Victorian/Shakespearean English?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   mostly dialog

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