Act 5 Scene 2
Autolycus talks with First Gentleman, who tells him of the joyful reconciliation he witnessed between Camillo and Leontes. A Second Gentleman enters and says that the oracle has been fulfilled; the king's daughter has been found. A Third Gentleman arrives and gives more details of how Perdita was confirmed as the king's daughter, and then describes the reconciliation between Leontes and Polixenes. The Gentlemen go on to discuss the fate of Antigonus and describe Paulina's mixed emotions at the news; sorrow for the loss of her husband, but joy that the oracle has been fulfilled. Third Gentleman reports that the members of the court have all gone to see a statue of Hermoine, which took many years to make and is about to be unveiled. It is in the possession of Paulina, at her house.
After the Gentlemen exit, Autolycus expresses mild regret that he has received no reward for his part in bringing the shepherd and Clown to Florizel. Shepherd and Clown enter. They are exuberant because they found favor at the court and were embraced by royalty. Florizel even called Clown his brother; and Leontes and Polixenes called the shepherd brother too. Clown is proud of the new clothes he has acquired and thinks he looks like a gentleman. With mock formality, Autolycus asks them to forgive him for any wrong he has done them, and promises to amend his life. Clown says he will recommend him to Prince Florizel.
Shakespeare merely reports the reconciliation between Leontes and Polixenes and the discovery that Perdita is Leontes' daughter because he cannot afford to have two climactic scenes one after the other right at the end of the play. He wants to save the biggest dramatic effect until the last. Showing the reconciliation directly would not only have taken up much more time, it might also have given a sense of anti-climax to the final scene.
The Winter's Tale: Novel Summary: Act 5 Scene 2
Act 5 Scene 2