Polixenes Character: Discuss the character of Polixenes, a great advisor and friend



Though the character of Polixenes, the king of Bohemia, is not explored much in the span of the play, yet we may form a positive opinion about him considering his wisdom, minute observation, depth of understanding, methods of investigation and a democratic sense of decision making. He is exactly opposite to the personality of his best friend, Leontes. He appears kind and humane. But his very gentleness leads to the roots of disaster for Leontes as well as his entire family.

He is the friend of Leontes and has come to visit his kingdom. Having stayed in the state of Sicilia for a long while, he wishes to rush back to the affairs of his government at Bohemia but Leontes does not want him to return yet. Polixenes politely refuses the request of his childhood friend for prolonging the stay. Upon Leontes' own request, his wife asks Polixenes to extend his stay in their country. Polixenes cannot refuse and agrees to stay a little longer. This leads to the suspicions in the mind of Leontes. When Hermione informs her husband that their dear friend has agreed to stay, Leontes feels the pinching jealousy at his heart:

"To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods".

Observing his wife and friend conversing in a frank and friendly manner, he utters:

"How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband!"


Polixenes, owing to the kindness of Camillo, escapes the evil plans of Leontes. Then we observe the aspects of his character how friendly and deeply he investigates the love affair of his son, Florizel. He disguises in the dress of orinary people and mingles with them. Seeing his son's eagerness to engage an ordinary shepherd's beautiful daughter, he stops the prince with elderly advices asking him to consult his father, he would not disagree with the prince.

The human part of the king is revealed when he cannot keep his identity secret due to his fatherly love and anger over the disobedience and unethical deed of his son. He gets angry and leaves the prince on his own, apparently disowning him. But he later pursues him to the land of Sicilia and this leads to the end of the miseries of his friend, Leontes. Polixenes' visit not only helps in gaining peace of mind for Leontes but also discovering that the shepherdess his son is in love with is the lost daughter of Leontes.



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