Blogs

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#1/Background/Act 1, Scene 1

The play opens in Sicilia.  The play is based on a two-thousand plus year
old story; Sicilia, geographically, being a mystery.  Leontes is its king; Hermione, his
queen.  They have a son, Mamillius,
believed to be quite the talented young man. Camillo is a Sicilian courtier and
a close friend to the king.  As the play
opens, Archidamus, a Bohemian courtier, and Camillo are on stage talking,
Archidamus, suggesting that Leontes should visit them in Bohemia “this coming
summer, wherein our hospitality shall shame us.”  Leontes and Polixenes, Bohemia’s king, were
very close friends as young men.  Camillo
says his king “justly owes him” a visit.
Camillo goes on to say “Sicilia cannot show himself too kind to
Bohemia.” The names of the kings and their countries are synonymous. Camillo says
the kings have “interchanged gifts, letters, loving embassies, and seemed to be
together though absent.”  Archidamus
acknowledges their long-term friendship; going on to say “You have unspeakable
comfort of your young Prince Mamillius.
He is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my
note.”  Camillo adds “He is a gallant
child; one that indeed makes old hearts fresh.”

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#2/Persuasion/Act 1, Scene 2.1

Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes and Camillo are
on stage.  Polixenes is also known simply
as Bohemia.  Polixenes lets Leontes know
that it’s time for him to return to Bohemia since he’s been gone for “nine changes
of the moon.”  Polixenes says “We thank
you.”  Leontes says “Stay your thanks
awhile. One sev’nnight (week) longer.”
Polixenes says “Tomorrow. My affairs do even drag me homeward. Farewell,
our brother.”  Hermione says “Tell him
you are sure all in Bohemia’s well.”
Leontes replies “Well said, Hermione.”
Hermione says “When at Bohemia you take my lord, I’ll give him
permission to stay a month.  You’ll
stay?”  Polixenes says “No, madam.”  She says “Truly, you shall not go.  Force me to keep you as a prisoner, not like
a guest.  How say you?  My prisoner or my guest?”  Polixenes says “Your guest, then, madam.”  She asks him to tell her of the kings’ good
times together as boys.  He does.  He says “We knew not the doctrine of
ill-doing, nor dreamed that any did.”
Hermione replies “You have sinned since.”  He says “Your precious self had then not
crossed the eyes of my young playfellow.”
Leontes asks his wife “Is he won yet?”
She says “He’ll stay, my lord.”
He says “At my request he would not.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok’st to better purpose.”  She says “Never?”  He says, “Never but once.”  She says “What was my first?”  He says when you said “I am yours
forever.”  She says “The first forever
earned a royal husband, th’ other for some while a friend.”  She gives Polixenes her hand.  Aside, Leontes says to himself that they are
too friendly.  He says to himself that
they are “paddling palms and pinching fingers, as now they are, and making
practiced smiles as in a looking glass, and then to sigh.”  Leontes calls Mamillius to him and says such
things as “women can be as false as dice,” wondering out loud whether Mamillius
is his.  Polixenes asks “What means
Sicilia?”  Hermione says “He seems
unsettled.”  Polixenes asks “How is ‘t
with you, best brother?”  A disturbed
Leontes says to Polixenes “My brother, are you so fond of your young prince as
we do seem to be of ours?”  Polixenes
replies “he’s my mirth, my constant companion, playing all roles.”  Leontes responds “So stands this squire.  We will walk, my lord, and leave you to your
more serious steps.”  Hermione says “If
you would seek us, we will find us ‘i th’ garden. Shall we await you
there?”  Leontes says “You’ll be found,
be you beneath the sky.”  He then aside
tells us he is “angling now, as if playing a hooked fish.”  Leontes is beyond jealous.  Hermione and Polixenes exit.  Leontes says to his son “How now, boy?”  Mamillius says “I am like you, they say.”  Leontes says “Why, that’s some comfort.”  Camillo enters.  Mamillius exits.

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#3/Treachery/Act 1, Scene 2.2

Camillo enters.
Leontes says “Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.”  Camillo says “He would not stay at your
petitions.”  Leontes says “How came it,
Camillo, that he did stay?”  Camillo
replies “At the good queen’s entreaty.”
Leontes says “Those of inferior rank to this business are blind.”  Camillo asks “Business, my lord?  Bohemia stays longer.”  Leontes asks “Ay, but why?”  Camillo says “To satisfy your Highness and
the entreaties of our most gracious mistress.”
Leontes cries “Satisfy?  I have
trusted thee, Camillo.  But we have been
deceived in that which seems so.”
Camillo says “Be it forbid, my lord!”
Leontes cries out “thou art not honest, or thou art a coward, or
negligent, or else a fool that seest a game played and tak’st it all for jest.”
Camillo defends himself calmly and well.
He says “But, beseech your Grace, be plainer with me; let me know my
trespass.”  Leontes cries “Ha’ not you
seen, Camillo?  If thou wilt confess, say
my wife’s an unchaste woman who deserves a name as indecent as a wench low in
morals.”  Camillo replies “You never
spoke that did become you less than this.”
Leontes comes back with “Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to
cheek? Is meeting noses? Horsing foot on foot?
Is this nothing?  My wife is
nothing, if this be nothing.”  Camillo
says “Good my lord, be cured for ‘tis most dangerous.”  Leontes says “I say thou liest, Camillo, who
canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil.  Were my wife’s liver as infected as her life,
she would not live the running of one hourglass.”  Camillo asks “Who does infect her?”  Leontes says “Bohemia.  Ay, and thou, his cupbearer, might season a
cup to give mine enemy a perpetual sleep.”
Camillo says “Sir, my lord, I cannot believe this failing to be in my
dread mistress, being so honorable.”
Leontes is convinced that Mamillius is Polixenes’ son, not his.  Camillo says “I will kill off Bohemia for
you, provided that, when he’s removed, your Highness will take again your queen
as yours, even for your son’s sake.”
Leontes says “I’ll give no blemish to her honor, none.”  Camillo says “I am his cupbearer.  If from me he have wholesome beverage,
account me not your servant.”  Leontes
replies “Do ‘t and thou hast the one half of my heart; do ‘t not, thou
splitt’st thine own.”  Camillo says “I’ll
do ‘t, my lord.”  Leontes exits.

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#4/Departure/Act 1, Scene 2.3

Alone on the stage, Camillo says “O miserable lady!  I must be the poisoner of good
Polixenes.  To do this deed, promotion
follows.  Let villainy itself renounce
it.  I must forsake the court.”  Polixenes enters and aside says “This is
strange.  Methinks my favor here begins
to shrivel.”  He sees Camillo, and greets
him.  Camillo says “Hail, most royal
sir.”  Polixenes says “The King hath such
an expression on him as if had lost some province loved as he loves
himself.  Even now, when I met him, he
sped from me.  What is breeding that
changes thus his manners?”  Camillo
replies “I dare not know.”  Polixenes
says “How, dare not?  You must, and
cannot say you dare not.  Good Camillo,
your changed complexions are to me a mirror.”
Camillo replies “There is a sickness, but I cannot name the disease, and it is caught of you that yet are well.”
Polixenes says “Camillo, I beseech you, if you know what I need to know,
imprison ‘t not in ignorant concealment.”
Camillo says “I may not answer.”
Polixenes says “I must be answered.
Dost thou hear, Camillo?”  Camillo
defers, saying “Sir, I will tell you.  I
am appointed by him to murder you.  He
thinks that you have touched his queen forbiddenly.”  Polixenes asks “How should this grow?”  Camillo replies “I know not.  But I am sure ‘tis safer to avoid what’s
grown than question how ‘tis born.  If
you dare trust my honesty, away tonight!
For myself, I’ll put my fortunes to your service, which are here by this
discovery lost. Be not uncertain, I have uttered truth.”  Polixenes says “I do believe thee.  My ships are ready and my people did expect
my hence departure two days ago.  Come,
Camillo, I will respect thee as a father. Let us depart.”  Camillo says “May it please your Highness to
take the urgent hour.  Come, sir,
away.”

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#5/Accusation/Act 2, Scene 1

Mamillius and two of the queen’s ladies are on stage, the
precocious Mamillius sharing some light stories with the ladies.  One of the ladies says of Hermione “She is
spread of late into a goodly bulk.”
Hermione is pregnant. The Queen enters, saying “Come, pray you sit by
us, and tell ‘s a tale.”  Mamillius says
“Merry or sad shall ‘t be?”  Hermione
says “As merry as you will.”  He says “A
sad tale’s best for winter.  I have one
of sprites and goblins.”  She says “Let’s
have that one.”  Leontes, Antigonus and
Lords enter.  Antigonus is a Sicilian
courtier.  Leontes asks one of his lords
to let him know what the lord knows.  The
Lord says “Behind the tuft of pines I met them.
I eyed them even to their ships.”
Leontes replies “Camillo was his help in this, his pander.  That false villain whom I employed was
pre-employed by him.”  Leontes says to the
ladies “Bear the boy hence. He shall not be in contact with her.”  He says to Hermione “’tis Polixenes has made
thee swell thus.”  A lady exits with
Mamillius.  The King says “You, my lords,
observe her closely.  ‘Tis pity she’s not
honorable.  She’s an adult’ress.”  Hermione cries “You, my lord, do but
mistake.”  He comes back with “You have
mistook, my lady, Polixenes for Leontes.
More, she’s a traitor, and Camillo is an accomplice with her.”  She says “How will this grieve you, when you
shall come to clearer knowledge, that you thus have denounced me.”  Leontes says “Away with her to prison.”  She says “Beseech your Highness my women may
be with me, for you see my plight requires it.”
Hermione exits, under guard, with her ladies.  The Lords and Antigonus condemn the king;
Antigonus saying to Leontes “Every dram of woman’s flesh is false, if she
be.  You are abused by some
putter-on.  Would I knew the
villain!”  Leontes says “Cease. No more.
I do see ‘t and feel ‘t.  Lack I
credibility?  Our prerogative calls not
your counsels.”  Antigonus continues to
protest the King’s comments and actions.
Leontes says “Either thou art most ignorant by age, or thou wert born a
fool.  Yet, for a greater confirmation, I
have dispatched in post to sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple, Cleomenes and
Dion.  Now from the oracle they will
bring all, and the spiritual counsel I shall receive shall stop or spur me.
Have I done well?”  A Lord says “Well
done.”  Leontes says “Come, follow
us.  We are to speak in public, for this
business will raise us all.”  Antigonus
says aside “To laughter, as I take it, if the good truth were known.”

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#6/Birth/Act 2, Scene 2

The scene opens in Sicilia’s prison.  Paulina, Hermione’s lady-in-waiting, is
there, hoping to see the Queen.  She says
to the Jailer “Pray you, conduct me to the Queen.”  The Jailer responds “I may not, madam.”  Paulina asks “Is ‘t lawful, pray you, to see
her women?  Any of them?  Emilia?”
Emilia, like Paulina, is one of Hermione’s ladies-in-waiting.  The Jailer says “I shall bring Emilia
forth.”  Emilia, along with the Jailer,
enters, and says “She is somewhat before her time delivered.  A daughter, and a goodly babe, vigorous and
likely to live.”  She says the Queen
said, talking to her daughter, ‘my poor prisoner, I am as innocent as
you.’”  Paulina says “The King must be
told of it, and he shall.  The business
becomes a woman best.  I’ll take ‘t upon
me.  Pray you, Emilia, commend my best to
the Queen.  If she dares trust me with
her little babe, I’ll show ‘t the King.”
Emilia replies “There is no lady living so suitable for this great
errand.  I’ll acquaint the Queen of your
most noble offer.”  Paulina says “Tell
her, Emilia, I’ll use that tongue I have.”
The Jailer says “Madam, if ‘t please the Queen to send the babe, I know
not what I shall incur to pass it, having no warrant.”  Paulina says “You need not fear it, sir.  This child is not a party to the anger of the
King, nor guilty of, if any be, the trespass of the Queen.”  The Jailer says “I do believe it.”  Paulina replies “Upon my honor, I will stand
betwixt you and danger.”

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#7/Commandment/Act 2, Scene 3

Leontes is on stage as the scene opens.  A Servant enters.  Leontes asks “How does Mamillius?”  The Servant says “He took good rest tonight.”  Leontes says “Go, see how he fares.”  Changing the issue, Leontes says “For present
vengeance, let me take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes laugh at me, make their
pastimes of my sorrow.”  Paulina enters,
carrying the baby.  Antigonus is with
her.  A Lord says “You must not
enter.  Madam, he hath not slept
tonight.”  Paulina says “I come to bring
him sleep.”  Leontes says “What noise
there?”  Paulina says “No noise, my
lord.”  Leontes says “How? Antigonus, I
charged thee that she should not come about me.
Canst thou not rule her?” Paulina is Antigonus’ wife. Paulina says “From
all dishonestly he can.  In this, he shall
not rule me.  I say I come from your good
queen.”  He asks “Good queen?”  Paulina says “The good queen, for she is
good, hath brought you forth a daughter. Here ‘tis.”  She lays down the baby.  Leontes cries “Out!  Hence with her, out o’ door. Take up the
bastard, take ‘t up, I say.”  Paulina
dares her husband to pick up the child.
Leontes says “He fears his wife.”
He goes on to say “A nest of traitors!”
Antigonus and Paulina say “we are none.”
Leontes shouts “This brat is none of mine.  It is the issue of Polixenes. Hence with it,
and together with the mother commit them to the fire.”  Paulina shouts “It is yours.”  Leontes calls her “A gross hag!”  He turns to Antigonus and says “Thou art
worthy to be hanged that wilt not stay her tongue.”  Paulina talks back to the king.  Leontes says “I’ll ha’ thee burnt.”  Paulina says “I care not. This cruel usage of
your queen will ignoble make you, yea, scandalous to the world.”  Leontes responds “Away with her!”  Paulina says to the Lords “I pray you do not
push me; look to your babe, my lord; ‘tis yours.  Farewell, we are gone.”  She exits.
Leontes turns to Antigonus, saying “Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife
to this.  My child?  Take it hence, and see it instantly consumed
with fire. Within this hour bring me word ‘tis done, and by good testimony, or
I’ll seize thy life.”  He goes on to tell
Antigonus “Thou sett’st up thy wife.”
Antigonus says “I did not, sir.
These lords can clear me.”  The
Lords say “We can, my royal liege.”
Leontes cries “You’re liars all.”
The Lords say “Beseech your Highness, give us better credit.  We have always truly served you.”  Leontes backs off, saying “Let it live.”  To Antigonus, he says “What will you
adventure to save this brat’s life?”
Antigonus says “Anything, my lord.
Anything possible.  Leontes takes
him up on his offer, saying “Carry this female bastard hence. Bear it to some
remote and desert place quite out of our dominions, and there leave it, without
mercy, to its own protection and favor of the climate.  Take it up.”
Antigonus says “I swear to do this.”
He picks up the baby.  A Servant
enters, saying “Cleomenes and Dion have arrived from Delphos.”  Leontes says “Lords, summon a session that
our most disloyal lady shall have a just and open trial.”

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#8/Courtroom/Act 3, Scene 2.1

The scene opens in the courtroom, Leontes saying “Produce
the prisoner.”  Hermione, Paulina and
Ladies enter.  Leontes says “Read the
indictment.”  She has been accused of
“high treason, committing adultery with Polixenes, and conspiring with Camillo
to take the life of the king, her husband.”
She responds, saying “It hardly helps to say not guilty.”  She goes on to say “You, my lord, best know
my past life hath been as chaste, as true, as I am now unhappy.  For life, I prize it as I would avoid
grief.  If with one jot of unacceptable
behavior I have transgressed beyond the bound of honor, may my near’st of kin
cry fie upon my grave. For Polixenes, with whom I am accused, I do confess I loved
him as in honor as was his right, with such a kind of love as might become a
lady like me.  Now for conspiracy, why
Camillo left your court, the gods themselves, knowing no more than I, are
ignorant.”  Leontes says “You had a
bastard by Polixenes. The brat hath been cast out, as is appropriate to it, no
father owning it, so thou shalt feel our justice, in whose least painful
proceeding look for no less than death.”
Hermione replies “Sir, spare your threats. The benefit of life I do give
up as lost.”  She says she’s been barred
from her son, lost this child, been “proclaimed a strumpet.”  She asks him to “tell me what blessings I
have here alive, that I should fear to die?”
She tells the court “Your Honors all, I do refer me to the oracle.  Apollo be my judge.”  Officers exit.  Hermione lets us know that her father was the
Emperor of Russia.  The Officers return
to the courtroom with Cleomenes and Dion.

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#9/Confession/Act 3, Scene 2.2

Cleomenes and Dion are sworn in and confirm that they
have been to Delphos, have a sealed-up oracle, hand delivered from great
Apollo’s priest, and will tell the truth.
The seals are broken. The Officer reads “Hermione is chaste, Polixenes
blameless, Camillo a true subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant, and that the King
shall live without an heir if that which is lost be not found.”  The Lords cry “Blessed be the great
Apollo!”  Hermione says “Praised.”  Leontes says ‘There is no truth at al i’ th’
oracle.”  A servant enters and says “The
Prince your son is gone, is dead.”
Hermione falls.  Paulina cries
“This news is mortal to the Queen.  Look
down and see what death is doing.”
Leontes says “Her heart is but o’ercharged.  She will recover.”  Hermione is carried out.  Paulina exits with her.  Leontes apologizes to Apollo, Polixenes, and
Camillo.  He confesses that he instructed
Camillo to poison Polixenes.  Paulina
enters.  She lashes out at length at
Leontes. No one interrupts her. She doesn’t miss an issue.  She then cries “The Queen, the Queen, the
sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead.”  She
continues to lay into Leontes.  A Lord
says “Say no more.”  Paulina turns
remorseful, saying “I do repent.  I have
showed too much the rashness of a woman.”
Leontes begins to feel remorse.
He says “Prithee, bring me to the dead bodies of my queen and son. One
grave shall be for both. Once a day I’ll visit the chapel where they lie, and
tears shed there shall be my recreation. Come, and lead me to these
sorrows.”

Abridged The Winter’s Tale/#10/Fortune/Act 3, Scene 3

The scene opens in the remote outback of Bohemia.  A Mariner and Antigonus, carrying the child,
are on stage.  Antigonus sends the
Mariner back to the bark, saying “the skies look grimly and threaten present
blusters.”  The Mariner exits.  Antigonus relates images of his last night’s
dream, saying to the baby “thy mother appeared to me last night, saying good
Antigonus, since fate, against thy better disposition, hath made thy person the
thrower-out of my poor babe in places remote in Bohemia.  There weep, and leave it crying.  Perdita I prithee call ‘t.  Thou shalt ne’er see thy wife Paulina more.
And so, she melted into air.  Blossom,
speed thee well.”  He lays the baby down,
in a bundle, along with a box.  Thunder
cracks.  He exits, pursued by a
bear.  A Shepherd enters. He sees the
child, saying “What have we here?  A
babe, a pretty one, a very pretty one.
Sure some sexual transgression.
They were warmer that got this than the poor thing is here.  I’ll take it up for pity.”  The Shepherd’s son enters, “I have seen such
a sight.”  The Shepherd asks “Why, boy,
how is it?”  The Shepherd’s Son cries “O,
the most piteous cry.  And then to see
how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone, how he cried to me for help, and said
his name was Antigonus, a nobleman.”  The
Shepherd says “Heavy matters, heavy matters. But look here, boy.  Thou met’st with things dying; I with things
newborn.  Take it up, boy. Open ‘t. So,
let’s see. What’s within?”  The
Shepherd’s son opens the box.  He says
“Gold, all gold.”  The Shepherd says
“This is fairy gold, boy, and ‘twill prove so.
Up with ‘t, keep it close. Home, home, the nearest way.  We are lucky, boy.  Let my sheep go. Come the nearest way
home.”  The Shepherd’s son says to his
father “Go you the nearest way with your findings.  I’ll go see if the bear be gone. If there be
any of him left, I’ll bury it.”  The
Shepherd says “That’s a good deed. ‘Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good
deeds on ‘t.”