The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act III: Scene 1

Summary

Walking through the streets of a Sicilian town, Cleomenes and Dion exchange their impressions of the general appearance and, especially, the religious atmosphere that they observed on the "island of Delphos [Delphi]." Cleomenes remembers vividly the thundering voice of the oracle; Dion says that he hopes that the trip will prove as successful for the queen as it has for them. Both messengers are certain that Apollo's divination will clear up all doubts surrounding the accusations against Hermione. The two messengers exit to mount fresh horses in order to speed their delivery of the sealed message.

Analysis

At first glance, this brief scene seems to serve only as extraneous travelogue. It serves this purpose, but more important, it adds to the dramatic tension as preparations are being made for Hermione's trial. By verifying the "religious" authenticity of their visit to Delphos and by anticipating the divine perception of Hermione's innocence, the messengers seem now to bear an unimpeachable testimony against Leontes' tyranny.

As was mentioned earlier, the scene also employs the license that is recognizable in the Pastoral Romance genre when Delphos is described as an island.

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After Camillo reveals Leontes' plan to kill Polixenes, Camillo is sentenced to die for treason.


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