Leontes, king of Sicilia: The husband of Hermione and father of Mamillius and Perdita, Leontes is quick to express emotions and opinions, as shown in his quick condemnation of his wife and daughter. However, he is also a man who truly repents and changes during the sixteen years between the first and last of the play. In the end he is honestly sorry and repentant and promises of a joyful family and country in the future.
Mamillius, prince of Sicilia: The son of Leontes and Hermione, Mamillius dies in the first part of the play. His death lends reality and pathos to the play because it is final; unlike his mother, he does not “return” to life at the end.
Camillo: A lord of Sicilia and, in the end, husband of Paulina, Camillo is loyal to Leontes but refuses to follow his master when he acts foolishly. He is an icon of virtue and good sense.
Antigonus: A lord of Sicilia and husband of Paulina, Antigonus is loyal to his master Leontes. However, when he tries to abandon the baby Perdita, he instead ends up giving his life to a bear attack to save the girl.
Cleomenes: A lord of Sicilia.
Dion: A lord of Sicilia.
Polixenes, king of Bohemia: The father of Florizel and long-time friend of Leontes, Polixenes flees Sicilia when Leontes suddenly changes and threatens his life. He objects to his son’s love of Perdita until he realizes she is a princess; but in the end is reconciled to both his son and his old friend, Leontes.
Florizel, prince of Bohemia: The son of Polixenes, Florizel is a pleasant young lover with a youthful belief that love will surmount all obstacles. In his case, optimism turns out to be justified when he falls in love with Perdita, whom he supposes to be a shepherdess but who is really a princess.
Archidamus: A lord of Bohemia.
Old Shepherd: This simple country shepherd finds Perdita as a baby and raises her as his own.
Clown: The old shepherd’s son.
Autolycus: A peddler and a con man who seems to have come straight out of the English countryside of Shakespeare’s time, Autolycus is a frequenter of feasts and fairs where he sells his wares, picks pockets, and steals keys. He is a rogue, but a realistic and merry one.
Hermione, queen of Sicilia: The wife of Leontes and mother of Mamillius and Perdita, Hermione is gentle, yet firm, magnanimous, and noble. An instrument of salvation for the other characters, she continually behaves with royal dignity, even when terribly wronged by her husband. She never becomes angry, but instead defends her points with skill.
Perdita: The daughter of Leontes and Hermione, Perdita is rejected as a baby by her father and sent to die in the wilds. However, she is rescued and raised by a shepherd and later marries Florizel, the prince of Bohemia. She is a daughter worthy of Hermione: her honesty and virtue are unassailable and her beauty is remarkable.
Paulina: The wife (and, later, widow) of Antigonus, Paulina is, above all things, loyal to her mistress, and she also acts as the conscience of Leontes during the sixteen years that Hermione remains hidden. In the end, she marries Camillo.