The Winter's Tale
The play begins during the visit of King Polixenes of Bohemia to King Leontes of Sicilia. Leontes offers a show of happiness to the court, but secretly believes that Polixenes has seduced his wife, Queen Hermione, to adultery. Leontes confides in his councilor, Camillo, and orders him to poison Polixenes. Camillo instead warns and departs with Polixenes. Leontes immediately imprisons his innocent wife against the wishes of all his councilors. He adamantly refuses to acknowledge his newborn daughter as his daughter, believing she is Polixenes' child. He sends another councilor, Antigonus, to expose the child to the elements. When he defies the oracle of Apollo, his wife and son, Mamillius, both die in an instant. Leontes' realizes his error and mourns. Antigonus travels to Bohemia and reluctantly leaves the child exposed to the wild. He is subsequently chased and killed by a bear. The child is found by a shepherd and his son.
The later part of the play occurs 16 years later, as explained by a Chorus representing time. Polixenes' son, Florizel, falls in love with Perdita, the shepherd's daughter. Polixenes witnesses Florizel's love and demands that he not marry her. Florizel is advised by Camillo to leave for Leontes' court and marry Perdita there. The shepherd and his son tell Polixenes the truth about Perdita's heritage and receive great rewards. The play ends with the reconciliation of Polixenes with Leontes. At the end, Antigonus' widow, Paulina, reveals Leontes' wife, Hermione as actually being alive. The play ends with the marriages of Florizel to Perdita, and Camillo to Paulina.
Open Source Shakespeare - The Winter's Tale