| Quote #1
Camillo insists that young Mammilius, the kingdom’s pride and joy, has the capacity to restore the health of the Sicilian subjects and makes old people want to live longer. This is kind of an odd thing to say and it’s also ironic given that Mammilius will fall ill and die in the play’s third act. Despite Mammilius’s fate, however, Camillo’s words also seem to anticipate the way in which youth really will have a restorative and healing power in Act 5, when Florizel and Perdita’s blossoming young love will reunite their families at the Sicilian court.
| Quote #2
We were, fair queen,
Polixenes describes his childhood friendship with Leontes as a kind of earthly paradise, where the two boys played and “frisk[ed]” like two innocent little “lambs” that knew nothing about the “doctrine of ill-doing” (original sin). If youth is characterized as an Edenic experience that’s marked by innocence, then it seems to follow that old age is like a fall from grace. (Check out “Quotes” for “Friendship” if you want to think about this passage some more.)
| Quote #3
Looking on the lines
Leontes says that looking into his son’s face takes him back to his own boyhood, when he was “unbreech’d” (before he was old enough to wear “breeches” or pants – in Shakespeare’s time, boys wore dresses until they were about seven or eight). In other words, when he looks at Mammilius, he sees himself as a young boy. Here, Leontes also expresses an idea that occurs throughout the play. That is, children are often portrayed as smaller versions or exact “copies” of their parents. Compare this passage to 2.3.12 and 5.1.11 below.