Act 4 Scene 2
Camillo, who has been in Polixenes' service for fifteen years, wants to return to Silesia. Leontes, now penitent, has sent for him. But Polixenes, who has appreciated Camillo's services all these years, is reluctant to let him go. He does not even want to hear the name Silesia because it reminds him of the tragic events that took place there. He then inquires of Camillo when he last saw Prince Florizel. Polixenes is not happy with the behavior of his son. Camillo replies that he saw the prince three days ago. Camillo has noticed that Florizel has recently been seen less often at the court. Polixenes has noticed this also, and he has learned that Florizel spends a lot of time at the home of a shepherd, a man who for some reason has grown much richer than his neighbors. The shepherd has a beautiful daughter, and Camillo and Polixenes agree that that is why Florizel spends so much time there. They agree to put the matter of Camillo's return to Silesia aside for the time being, and visit the unusual shepherd. They decide to go in disguise.
This short scene serves to move the plot forward by giving more information about Florizel and Perdita, and setting up expectations in the audience for the romance that is about to unfold. The scene also confirms the earlier characterization of Camillo as a man of virtue and integrity, and keeps the events of the first part of the play firmly in mind. This is done by having Polixenes point out to Camillo that he has still not healed from the damage done by Leontes sixteen years ago. The wound is so deep and fresh he cannot bear to hear anything said about it.
The Winter's Tale: Novel Summary: Act 4 Scene 2
Act 4 Scene 2