Camillo’s Character and More from Acts 4 and 5

I wanted to focus on a few different ideas I had while reading acts 4 and 5, so I’ve broken my response into 3 parts:

  1. Throughout the entire play (though most notably in act 4 scene 4) I found Camillo to be an interestingly complicated character from a moral standpoint. When put in the predicament of obeying his king and wrongfully murdering Polixenes in act 1 scene 2, I ultimately think he made the right decision of disobeying Leontes and informing Polixenes of Leontes’ plot. In act 4 scene 4, however, Camillo seems to lose his honor and betray Florizell just to serve his own interest of seeing Sicilia again. He appears to be on Florizell’s side when he tries to help him escape Polixenes, saying, “On mine honor, I’ll point you where you shall have such receiving as shall become your highness” (4.4.624-6). Later we realize in an aside that he is still in collusion with Polixenes, only using Florizell and Perdita as a means toward seeing his home country once more. When Florizell later learns of Camillo’s self-serving plot in act 5 scene 1, he exclaims, “Camillo has betrayed me, whose honor and whose honesty till now endured all weathers” (5.1.236-8). This line stood out to me because the audience knows that Camillo’s honor and honesty had already been tested (and, arguably, lost) when he went against Leontes’ orders and fled with Leontes’ enemy to Bohemia 16 years prior.
  2. In act 5 scene 1, I noticed that a few of Paulina’s lines could be indirectly referencing British royal history. In class, we mentioned how Leontes is put into Elizabeth’s place because he no longer has heirs to his throne. Paulina attempts to justify his lack of heirs by explaining to Leontes that, “The crown will find an heir. Great Alexander left his to th’ worthiest; so his successor was like to be the best” (5.1.55-7). Does this justification once again push back on the idea of “divine right” that King James subscribed to, instead arguing that an unjust ruler ought to be removed and replaced with a more worthy successor?
  3. On a completely different note, act 5 scene 2 confused me a bit because I am left to wonder why we learn about the reunion between Leontes and Perdita from random, outside perspectives. It felt as though the plot was rushed and strangely summarized for us. I wonder if this also frustrated anyone else in the class?

1 comment

  1. In response to your third point, I also felt that the plot was rushed a bit. Given the length of Act 4, it seemed strange to me that they tried to stuff this massive reunion scene into Act 5, especially when parts of Act 4 seemed somewhat unnecessary.

Leave a Reply