Act I, Scene II-Detailed Summary of Winter's Tales: "Winter's Tales" by William Shakespeare



Scene II

LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, POLIXENES and CAMILLO enter with attendant. Polixenes thanks his friend for the hospitality and intends to leave for his country because he has stayed there for nine days. But Leontes requests him to extend his stay awhile. Polixenes thinks he must not trouble his good friend anymore and besides state affairs await him in Bohemia. Upon the request of Leontes, Hermione, his wife-the queen of Sicilia, interferes and convinces Polixenes to stay a while. Polixenes agrees to stay further. Polixenes tells about the childhood and youth of the two kings to the queen of Sicilia, Hermione:

"what we changed

"Was innocence for innocence; we knew not

"The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd

"That any did."

"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".

Leontes wobbles and talks to his son, Mamillius, asking him if he resembles his father. During this strange conversation, Polixenes enters and asks him if anything was wrong with him. But Leontes says that he was recalling his youth by looking at the face of his son. A little later we find Leontes expressing his jealousy for the way his wife speaks to his friend:
"How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband!"

When Polixene and Hermione have gone he utters in deep jealousy and melancholy tone:

"Whiles other men have gates and those gates open'd,
As mine, against their will."

For some reason he is convinced that his wife is not faithful to him and perhaps cheating on him with king Polixenes.

Camillo enters the scene. The king tells him Polixenes' extended stay. Camillo' words are deep and meaningfully taken by Leontes: "They're here with me already, whispering". Camillo also says that Polixenes "stays there longer to To satisfy your highness and the entreaties Of our most gracious mistress". Thereupon, Lenotes charges Camillo of unfaithful services. Camillo asks him to be clear in his accusation. He ask him if "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 accuses his wife of adultery before Camillo. He requests the king to be careful because it is not good. The king calls him dishonest and unfaithful and asks him to get lost. Upon seeing the rigidity of the king, Camillo offers to assist the king in the murder of the Bohemian king if Leontes will accept the queen and the prince as he previously did. Leontes agrees and says: "I will seem friendly, as thou hast advised me."

Camillo is to poison the Bohemian king:
"I must be the poisoner
Of good Polixenes; and my ground to do't
Is the obedience to a master".

Polixenes meets Camillo and inquires the weird and rude behaviour of Leontes. Camillo avoids him but upon the insistence and questioning of Polixenes Camillo tells him: "I am appointed him to murder you." Polixenes seeks the reason and Camillo advises him to seek refuge instead of questioning. He also offers his services to the Bohemian king. He tells him that he is the in-charge of the keys to all the gates of Sicilia. Polixenes is very greatful to him.




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