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The Winter’s Tale

The Winter’s Tale


by William Shakespeare

The Winter’s Tale Youth and Old Age Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #7

Old sir, I know
She prizes not such trifles as these are:
The gifts she looks from me are pack'd and lock'd
Up in my heart; which I have given already,
But not deliver'd. O, hear me breathe my life
Before this ancient sir, who, it should seem,
Hath sometime loved! (4.4.9)

When Florizel explains his love for Perdita to a disguised Polixenes, he emphasizes the difference in age between himself and the “ancient sir” that doesn’t seem to understand young love. When Polixenes later objects to Florizel’s union with Perdita, he sees it as a matter of social position – it’s not fitting for a prince to marry a “shepherd’s daughter.” Here, however, we can see that Florizel chalks up the old man’s attitude to the generation gap, as he implies that the old guy standing before him just doesn’t get it.

Quote #8

The blessed gods
Purge all infection from our air whilst you
Do climate here! (5.1.7)

On the surface, Leontes's compliment to Florizel seems like an over the top way to express his happiness at the Prince’s arrival in Sicily. Yet, there’s also something poignant in Leontes's declaration that Florizel’s presence in seems to “purge” the kingdom of all “infection.” For the past sixteen years, a heavy cloud has hung over Leontes's kingdom. But the arrival of young Florizel and Perdita promises to heal Leontes's damaged relationships and coincides with the seeming resurrection of Hermione.

Quote #9

Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince;
For she did print your royal father off,
Conceiving you: were I but twenty-one,
Your father's image is so hit in you,
His very air, that I should call you brother,
As I did him, and speak of something wildly
By us perform'd before. (5.1.11)

When Leontes greets Prince Florizel, he remarks that the young prince looks like the “image” of his father. Comparing the body of Florizel’s mother to a printing press machine that “print[ed] […] off” an exact copy of her husband, Leontes implies that the resemblance between father and son is proof that Florizel’s mother was faithful to her husband (“true to wedlock”). We’ve seen this printing metaphor before, haven’t we? At 2.3.12 (above) Paulina tried to show Leontes proof that Baby Perdita was his biological daughter by pointing out that Perdita looked exactly like Leontes.

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