home contact

Shakespeare's Characters: Camillo (The Winter's Tale)

From The Works of William Shakespeare. Vol. 12. Ed. Evangeline Maria O'Connor. J.D. Morris and Co.

In the case of Camillo we trace a line of prudence darkening almost into duplicity, that permeates the very purest and most single-hearted of natures. His virtue, which is his character, is the very growth of the trying circumstances by which he is surrounded. He is frank and bold to the fullest extent that is consistent with prudence and usefulness; he carries prudence and management to the fullest extent that consists with self-respect and honour. In truth he is as virtuous and direct as a man can be who is fain to live among the hard conditions of a court, and this perhaps is as much as to say that Autolycus retains as much rectitude as a pedlar may who is tempted by dupes thrice over, and not often has the chance of evincing a leaning to virtue by taking her bid when roguery only makes an equal offer. But this is unfair to Camillo, though it might be so to few others, and we must approve and admire the sagacity with which he proves the strength of unreasoning prejudice, and hoodwinks and eludes the power he can neither disabuse nor contend against. This is the wisdom that ere now has saved a nation as it saves the fortunes of the play, but may the world soon lack those tyrannous necessities that reduce the best virtue practicable so nearly to the equivocal.
Lloyd: Critical Essays on the Plays of Shakespeare.


Related Articles

 Introduction to Hermione
 Introduction to Paulina
 Introduction to Leontes
 Introduction to Perdita
 Introduction to Autolycus