Leontes – The King of Sicilia who exacts his power throughout the play. He is deeply consumed in jealous thoughts as he believes that his best friend Polixenes and his wife Hermione are having an affair. He is so deeply rooted in jealousy that he begins to act irrationally. He has ordered Camillo to poison Polixenes, imprisons Hermione and abandons his infant daughter. This has consequently caused the death of his son Mamillius. Although Leontes is called a ‘jealous tyrant’ by the Oracle, when he has finally realized that he is wrong he begins to repent.
Leontes finds happiness once again at the denouement of the play when his daughter Perdita returns and his wife is revived.
Polixenes - The King of Bohemia who has spent 9 months away from his kingdom with his friend Leontes in Sicilia. Polixenes can be regarded as a kind/good friend as he is willing to spend such a long time away from his palace to be with Leontes. Polixenes’ fondness of his friendship can further be observed through his conversation with Leontes in Act 1 Scene 2. He is wrongfully accused of being an adulterer with Hermione and is supposed to be poisoned but he escapes with Camillo back to Bohemia.
Later in the play he tries to prevent his son from marrying Perdita, believed to be a commoner. However, some may regard Polixenes as being a protective father and a watchful King while other may him as being unreasonably unfair.
Camillo – He is the servant of King Leontes. He is the first to find out about the King’s jealous thoughts and is given the burden of poisoning King Polixenes. Camillo is brave enough to assert the Queen’s innocence; however the King exerts his power over Camillo and orders him to carry out his plans.
Although Camillo is the servant of Leontes and bound to him by duty, he betrays the King’s orders by informing Polixenes of the plan to have him poisoned. He then flees to Bohemia along with the King. This act by Camillo can be viewed as betrayal to the King or a kind act to help an innocent man.
Archidamus – A lord of Bohemia who discusses the friendship between the two kings with Camillo in the opening Act.
Hermione – The Queen of Sicilia and wife of Leontes. She is virtuous and faithful to her husband; however she is wrongfully accused of being unchaste, by Leontes. Hermione’s devotion to her husband can be seen through her successful attempt to convince Polixenes to stay longer after he has already denied the King in Act 1 Scene 2. However, it is ironic that this very notion makes the King suspicious and jealous. She is later imprisoned although she is pregnant and has her baby daughter during this time. Hermione dies later in the play at her trial after hearing of her son’s death. She is then revived at the denouement of the play.
Perdita - The daughter of King Leontes and Queen Hermione, who is wrongfully labeled as an illegitimate child by her jealous father. She is abandoned as a child and is raised by a shepherd in Bohemia. Perdita later falls in love with Florizel and is aided to flee Bohemia because of Polixenes’ refusal to let the two coexist as lovers.
Mamillius- The young prince of Sicilia who dies as a result of the grief sue to the wrongful imprisonment of his mother.
Paulina- A noble woman of Sicilia and the wife of Antigonus. She is very loyal to Hermione and firm in her stance that the Queen is innocent. Paulina openly battles the King’s accusations which is uncommon of a woman to do in that era. She therefore represents the opposite of a woman of that time, fearless of men, outspoken and unremitting in her claims.
Antigonus- Nobleman and husband of Paulina. He also believes in the innocence of the Queen and uses strong analogies of his three daughters to express this. He is given the task to dispose of Perdita at the Bohemian coast. Sadly he is attacked by a bear and dies.
Cleomentes- Dispatched to visit the Oracle of Delphos in order to gain a prophecy of Hermione’s status. He is hopeful of the Queen’s innocence.
Dion- Also dispatched by the King to visit the Oracle of Delphos. Dion, like Cleomentes hopes that the Queen is pronounced innocent.
Florizel- The prince of Bohemia, son of Polixenes. He falls in love with Perdita, who is believed to be a shepherd’s daughter (commoner). As such the two are forbidden to be together but secretly elope and flees to Sicilia with the help of Camillo.
Shepherd- an old and kind shepherd who finds Perdita as a baby and raises her as his own.
Autolycus – He resides in Bohemia and is a peddler and a thief. However, he redeems all his wrong doings by helping Perdita and Florizel to flee Bohemia so that they could freely love each other.