Hermione Character: Discuss the character of Hermione, unfortunate wife of Leontes



Hermione, the unfortunate victim of her husband's jealousy lays all her youth waste for mere pretence of her death. She is, perhaps, the goddess of beauty. She is the most beloved to her husband, the king of Sicilia. But the stupid jealousy and the deed of accusing his wife with the charge of adultery snatch all her happiness and joys. The Hermione we knew in the beginning of the play appears no more in the later part. We find her gloomy and dejected over the charges of adultery. We find her the most tragic of all the characters in the play for she loses her son's life while her daughter, a new born, is abandoned in the far off wilds of Bohemia.

We may share her agony but the torture on her soul remains unimaginable. Though the message from the oracle of Apollo brings some relief for her glooms and helps in clearing the stains of her character, yet she would punish her husband as well as herself for the filth of his mind. This also helps in fulfilling the prophecy of the oracle:

"Hermione is chaste;
Polixenes blameless; Camillo a true subject; Leontes
a jealous tyrant; his innocent babe truly begotten;
and the king shall live without an heir, if that
which is lost be not found."

She hides herself from the king and from all the luxuries of the world. The unfortunate mother is only relieved at heart and appears before the world only when her daughter is found. The queen, Hermione, proves her innocent and pure character by remaining alone and not reconciling with her husband for several years.

During the course of play, whenever the king accuses his wife of the evil deeds he has imagined for her, the courtiers and the lords all reject his false beliefs. For instance, Camillo, the most trustworthy lord to the king hears the king uttering "My wife is slippery" and cheating on him. Camillo is shocked to hear this. He considers it a sin to accuse the queen with such words. The king gets infuriated but none of the people belonging to his court ever second his thoughts of tainted character of the queen. The lords request the king to call back the decision of trying the queen with the charge of adultery :

"Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
Prove violence; in the which three great ones suffer,
Yourself, your queen, your son."

Shakespeare has presented her as a pure woman in this play.


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