Study Guide

Camillo in The Winter’s Tale

By William Shakespeare


Camillo and Male Bonding

Camillo is a Sicilian Lord. He’s the trusted friend of Leontes until the jealous king asks him to poison Polixenes. Camillo’s much too nice a guy to do such a horrible thing so he helps Polixenes run away to Bohemia, where Camillo becomes King Polixenes’s new BFF and most trusted advisor. Although Camillo’s relationships with Leontes and then Polixenes aren’t nearly as important as the bro-mance between Leontes and Polixenes, Camillo’s penchant for being chummy with the two kings helps develop the play’s theme of male bonding, which you can read all about by going to our theme “Friendship.”

Camillo and Shakespeare’s Happily Ever After

Camillo’s actions are also important in terms of moving the plot along. After sixteen long years in Bohemia, Camillo becomes homesick and, when he finds an opportunity to return to his hometown, he takes it. He advises Florizel and Perdita to run away to Sicily and then he tattles on them so Polixenes will run after them (and drag Camillo along for the ride). Ordinarily, we’d say this is a pretty sleazy thing to do. But, as we know, this turns out to be the best thing that could possibly happen because once the entire Bohemian crew gets to Sicily, the joyous reunion of family and friends can go down. What’s more, Camillo gets engaged to Paulina at the end of the play, which is part of what makes the ending of The Winter’s Tale look so much like a “comedy.”