The Winter’s Tale
How we cite our quotes:
How does the boy?
He took good rest to-night;
'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.
To see his nobleness!
Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,
He straight declined, droop'd, took it deeply,
Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself,
Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
And downright languish'd. Leave me solely: go,
See how he fares. (2.3.2)
Did Leontes just say what we think he said? After learning that Mammilius has fallen ill, Leontes blames the condition on the “dishonour” Hermione has supposedly brought her family. But the truth is that Mammilius has fallen ill because he’s been taken away from his beloved mother, who has been unfairly accused of adultery and treason.
Do come with words as medicinal as true,
Honest as either, to purge him of that humour
That presses him from sleep. (2.3.5)
When Paulina visits Leontes, who hasn’t been sleeping well at night, she says that she’s come with “medicinal” words. That is, she’s come to talk some sense into Leontes before it’s too late. Paulina hopes that, by showing Leontes the truth (that Hermione is faithful and Perdita is his daughter), Leontes will be cured, so to speak, of his suffering. Paulina sees herself as a kind of “physician” to the soul and she says as much a few lines later (2.3.5).
--what will you adventure
To save this brat's life?
Any thing, my lord,
That my ability may undergo
And nobleness impose: at least thus much:
I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
To save the innocent: any thing possible.
It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
Thou wilt perform my bidding. (2.3.7)
Clearly tormented, Antigonus doesn’t want to ditch baby Perdita in the wilderness and says he’s willing to risk his life to avoid hurting the child. Leontes, however, bullies him into doing it anyway by threatening his life. As we know, Antigonus will lose his life while performing the deed (he’s eaten by a bear), which causes Paulina to suffer the loss of a beloved husband.