Study Guide

The Winter’s Tale Compassion and Forgiveness

By William Shakespeare

Compassion and Forgiveness

While the first three acts of The Winter’s Tale are marked by the pain and suffering caused by Leontes’s jealousy, the latter half of the play is all about compassion, forgiveness, and redemption. Perdita’s true identity is restored, the princess is reunited with her father and mother (who is seemingly “resurrected” from the dead), and Paulina gets engaged to Camillo. The play’s joyous ending not only restores domestic and political order, but it offers an optimistic view of humanity.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. What is Leontes’s reaction when Florizel visits the Sicilian court?
  2. How is Perdita reunited with her father and mother?
  3. Describe what happens when Hermione’s “statue” steps down from the pedestal.
  4. Why does Paulina get engaged at the end of the play?

Chew on This

In The Winter’s Tale, suffering and tyranny give way to compassion and forgiveness – Shakespeare’s redemptive ending offers hope for the future and an optimistic view of humanity.

Hermione’s love for her daughter is responsible for her “miraculous” resurrection in the play’s final act.