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Cymbeline (1609)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,494259,535 (3.54)40
Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, is persecuted by her wicked stepmother, the Queen, and by Cloten, the Queen's doltish son. Disguised as a boy, she sets out to find her husband, the banished Posthumus.

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
"What shalt thou expect, To be depender on a thing that leans?" (pg. 29)

There's a strange, placid satisfaction in enjoying something that most people have dismissed, a sort of positive, constructive counterpart to schadenfreude; an assurance that, having appreciated something, you appreciated it according to your own lights and not because you were told it was great. Like Iachimo in the play's famous bedchamber scene, I approached Cymbeline with scepticism and with pen in hand, ready to note down any errors, only to leave unaccountably charmed.

I really don't understand the dismissal of this play. I thought it was rather great. Shakespeare's reputation has been forged on his perfection of various forms of established drama: his tragedies, most notably, but also his comedies and his histories. (I should also mention his satires, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew, though many people tend to misunderstand them.) He took the time-tested conventions and laced them with his own incomparable genius, giving depth to heroes, shade to villains, and ringing eloquence to characters who, in other hands, would be relegated to plot devices.

Cymbeline, on the other hand, belongs to a small stable that Shakespeare sought to construct from scratch, late in his career. Neither comedies nor tragedies nor histories, this group of plays (including the likes of The Tempest and The Winter's Tale) are more freewheeling, more experimental. And like most experiments, the results are of mixed success (with The Tempest widely considered the most successful), and most of the commentary on them tends to be apologetic. Sometimes the apologies are generous (the Introduction to my Arden edition of the play describes it as "a comprehensive piece of impressionism, that… finally expresses something which Shakespeare never quite achieves elsewhere" (pg. lxxviii)), but they're apologies nonetheless. Cymbeline isn't generally seen as being able to stand on its own, unlike, say, the inarguable brilliance of Macbeth or Hamlet.

However, while Cymbeline is one that the academics and the iamb-counters will break their lances on, those who recognise that Shakespeare was an entertainer (and an erudite one, at that) will wonder what all the confusion is about. As one of those strangest of creatures, someone who reads Shakespeare for fun, in his spare time, I found Cymbeline quite straightforward and thrilling.

Despite three plotlines, it's easy to follow. In one, the exiled Posthumus lays a wager with Iachimo that his wife Imogen is virtuous and incorruptible; Iachimo's attempts to undermine this are the cause of much of the destruction in the play. In the second plotline, tensions between the British kingdom and Rome are inflamed by manoeuvrings in the court of Cymbeline, king of the Britons. In the third (and weakest), Cymbeline's kidnapped sons have come of age in the wilderness, and the play primes itself for their return. We get the usual Shakespearean doses of scheming, cross-dressing and soliloquising, and if Cymbeline is never a match for Shakespeare's more well-known works, it certainly shines bright for such a lesser light.

The play has a lot of energy right from the start, and carries it through right to the end (the final scene has the daunting technical task of wrapping up three plotlines simultaneously, and unlike, say, The Winter's Tale, it pulls it off). Cymbeline himself is a bit-part player, with seemingly little understanding of what is going on around him (perhaps one of the reasons Shakespeare didn't steer this play into outright comedy was to avoid the dangerous business of mocking a king). Guiderius and Arviragus might be the king's sons, but Imogen, his daughter, is the sun around which the play orbits. She enters the play unpromisingly, like a grain of sand enters an oyster, and emerges, layered by the various happenings of the plot, as a bona fide pearl.

Unlike some of his other great heroines, I don't think Shakespeare intended for Imogen to be this good a character. In this, an experimental play, she is accidental; and the reason I believe this is so is because she has no worthy counterpart. Cleopatra had her Antony, Juliet her Romeo, Lady Macbeth her Macbeth – and, as far as father/daughters go, Cordelia had her Lear. Imogen, however, stands among inferiors. Posthumus, her husband, is a bit of a drip, and Iachimo is a venal trickster (though the latter is irresistibly moved by her, he is too dulled in his morality to process it). Her father Cymbeline has no hold over her, nor indeed any sense that she is already outside his grasp, and it is only Pisanio who comes closest to deserving to stand alongside her.

It is nevertheless these interactions which result in Cymbeline emerging as a fine piece of drama, and one much better than its critical dismissal suggests. The play lacks the iconic lines that can draw the punters in to, say, Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, but it makes up for this lack with some truly fine moments of drama. Scenes like the one between Imogen and Pisanio at Milford-Haven (a tense encounter which wouldn't be out of place in The Sopranos"What shall I need to draw my sword? the paper Hath cut her throat already" (pg. 90)) are, if not among Shakespeare's best, are only not so because his best is so high, and are comfortably among the second rank. Others are truly special: the famous encounter in Imogen's bedchamber might be one of the most erotic scenes in literature.

This latter scene is, quite brilliantly, for the most part a single soliloquy, and this fact reminds me that Cymbeline, while not iconic, has its fair share of lines too. Imogen's fatalistic replies to Pisanio in the afore-mentioned Milford-Haven scene are deliciously curt, and her romantic lament after her husband departs for Italy carries real poetry ("I would have broke mine eye-strings, crack'd them, but To look upon him, till the diminution Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle: Nay, followed him, till he had melted from The smallness of a gnat, to air: and then Have turn'd mine eye, and wept" (pg. 16)). Even Posthumus gets his moment, with a bracing soliloquy on man's frustrations with womankind (pp71-73). The play might not be peopled with characters to stand with Imogen, but it is peopled with moments, and these are enough for the play to resist the leanings of even the most misguided critic. ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Nov 14, 2021 |
My favorite Shakespeare play so far! ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
For some reason I didn't really like this one as much as I thought I would-- maybe my expectations were too high. I didn't think it was as strong as other jealousy plays (Othello, Winter's Tale), or as fun as other fairytale plays (Pericles, Two Noble Kinsmen). I'd really like to see a production-- then I think I'd be able to better appreciate the play and what can be done with it. It seems like there's a ton of scope for interesting performance.

Things I did like while reading: Imogen/Innogen, the exiles in the Welsh wilderness, the funeral song, Second Lord, and when Posthumus says "You have put me into rhyme". On the other hand, the play was almost intolerably plotty-- this doesn't have to be a bar to an enjoyable, funny, or moving play, but for whatever reason I felt like Cymbeline was without a good enough thematic hook, sense of humor, or character with a compelling plight to really grab me. I also wish we had gotten a bit more sense of the medieval Roman Britain setting. Oh well. Still some good stuff in there. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
Not a favourite, but mainly because the convoluted plot turns on far too many stacked up coincidences to ultimately be believable.

However, the biggest failing comes not from the play, but from Arkangel, in this one. In each play, they plug in some transition music to move you from scene to scene, which is all well and good, however, even with each transitional piece taking up less than a minute of airtime...

The music. Is. Terrible.

It's not fun to listen to, it's intrusive, and I, over the course of so many plays, now actually cringe each time a scene transitions.

And yet, even that pales to the odd time they actually put Shakespeare's lyrics to music. Again, simply awful.

And that's still not the worst part. In this particular play, when Posthumus (which is an absolutely quality handle, by the way. Good going, William!) sleeps and dreams of his family and, ultimately, Jupiter, the entire sequence is put to some of the most annoying music I've ever heard. It was so awful that I literally had to skip ahead to avoid it, and go to my hard copy of the play to read what I missed.

Honestly, whoever was the musical director for Arkangel should be soundly beaten, forced to listen to his or her own music continuously for a month, then have someone box their ears. ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
William Shakespeare


Heinemann, Hardback, 1904.

16mo. xviii+184 pp. Introduction by George Brandes [v-xviii]. Cambridge text.

First published, 1623.
This edition, 1904.



Act I, Scenes 1-6
Act II, Scenes 1-5
Act III, Scenes 1-7
Act IV, Scenes 1-4
Act V, Scenes 1-5


Bernard Shaw made me read Cymbeline by calling it “for the most part stagey trash of the lowest melodramatic order, in parts abominably written, throughout intellectually vulgar, and, judged in point of thought by modern intellectual standards, vulgar, foolish, offensive, indecent, and exasperating beyond all tolerance.”[1] On the other hand, George Brandes is almost ecstatic about the play’s merits, although in the end even he has to admit defeat in the popularity contest:

In depth and variety of colouring, in richness of matter, profundity of thought, and heedlessness of conventional canons, Cymbeline has few rivals among Shakespeare’s plays. Fascinating as it is, however, this tragic-comedy has never been very popular on the stage. The great public, indeed, has neither studied nor understood it.

G. B. Harrison dismissed the story as “elaborate, complicated and farfetched even for an Elizabethan play; and it includes nearly every ingredient of melodrama.” Nor was he impressed with the characters, whom he considered a bunch of stock figures, yet finally conceded that Dr Johnson was “too brutal” and Cymbeline actually contains “in spite of the stale stage tricks [...] many incidents and speeches composed in Shakespeare’s finest manner.”[2] Hazlitt considered the work “one of the most delightful of Shakespear’s historical [?!] plays”, and went on to note, perceptively, that “the pathos in Cymbeline is not violent or tragical, but of the most pleasing and amiable kind”. He praised the varied and vivid characterisation, the evocative mountain scenes comparable to the Forest of Arden from As You Like It, and even the finale which is “crowded with decisive events brought about by natural and striking means.”[3] Harold Goddard, the greatest Bardolater of all, waxed ecstatic about Cymbeline as “symbolic history”, “moral and political allegory” and I don’t know what else[4].

Contrasting opinions! Nor are they surprising. My only previous encounter, many years ago, with Shakespeare’s late “romances” (whatever that means) was The Tempest. So, I did expect something weird in the extreme, though not overrated for sentimental reasons. What I did find was a solid piece of work of delightful complexity and ambiguity, if anything rather underrated. I don’t know about The Winter’s Tale (yet), but Cymbeline is dramatically, and perhaps even poetically, superior to The Tempest.

At five acts, 27 scenes and well over 3000 lines, this is a long text shaped into an elaborate structure. But very little is superfluous: even the songs, the dream and the soothsayer somehow seem necessary. It is impossible to be described in a few words, for it defies genres altogether. Mr Goddard is again spot-on with “the strangest mixture of authentic history, legendary history, medieval romance, pastoral, comedy, tragedy, and half-a-dozen other things. Neat, orderly, common-sense, and historical minds ought properly to be driven frantic by it”. One would be tempted to offer the second sentence as an explanation why the play is so neglected were it not for the fact that such minds are rare.

To make things even harder for myself, I have read an old Heinemann edition which contains not a single footnote (nor even line numbers). A microscopic note in the beginning thanks Macmillan for permission to reprint the text from the Cambridge Shakespeare, but otherwise nothing is mentioned about the editor or editors (apparently W. G. Clark and W. A. Wright in the 1860s). Anyway, the text is reliable enough and surprisingly easy to follow, never mind an occasional linguistic or mythological hurdle.

The story is utterly improbable, of course. But do you read verse drama for probable plots? You must be very frustrated creature if you do! That said, the story is ingenious and much more carefully crafted than it looks at first glance. Three totally different settings – the court in Britain, the bohemian side of Rome and the wilderness of Wales – are mixed with two very different plot lines. One is the wager about Imogen’s virtue, the other is the conflict between Rome and Britain (presumably in the time of Augustus but really quite unhistorical), and there is a good deal of court intrigue that almost forms yet another subplot. Whatever he may have taken from Holinshed and Boccaccio, the structure of Cymbeline – to say nothing of the language – is Shakespeare’s original creation. Arthur Quiller-Couch was not so mad, after all, to dedicate a whole chapter to this play in his study of Shakespeare’s workmanship[5].

Several scenes are easily among Shakespeare’s finest work. Perhaps the standout is Iachimo’s trying to seduce Imogen, then convincing her he faked the whole thing to test her virtue (I.6). Mr Goddard calls this scene the most difficult to bring off since Richard III tried (and succeeded) to seduce the widow of the man he had murdered. Hazlitt, with a typical flash of brilliance, notes that “it’s a good lesson to prudes; and may shew that where there is real attachment to virtue, it has no need to bolster itself up with an outrageous or affected antipathy to vice.” Now, that’s a point worth considering!

The wager between Iachimo and Posthumus (I.4), starting as a joke and quickly turning into something much more serious; Imogen and Pisanio converting assassination into flight (III.4), with an unexpectedly poignant twist in the tale; and even Iachimo’s adventures in Imogen’s bedchamber (II.2), a rare case when virtually a whole scene consists of a single soliloquy – all these are perfect fusions of the poetic and the dramatic. There is not a single scene that promising, moving or tense, respectively, in the whole of that epitome of blandness The Tempest.

Hazlitt apart, the ending has gathered plenty of negative criticism. Shaw famously rewrote it as “Cymbeline Refinished”[6], in blank verse but thoroughly tongue-in-cheek, quite un-Shakespearean and very much at odds with the rest of the play. It’s a cute spoof, but nothing more. In a foreword written in 1945, Shaw actually praised the play on the whole and the ending in particular. Quite a reversal of judgement!

Imogen is, of course, the star of this play. She is easily among the most beloved Shakespearean heroines, the last in a long line that started with Juliet and passed through Beatrice, Rosalind, Viola, Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra (Portia’s out, sorry). She is the most lovable of them all. She has a sense of humour, but doesn’t insist on being annoyingly witty as Rosalind sometimes and Beatrice nearly always are. She is even more daring than Viola in the cross-dressing game. She has gentleness and honesty quite alien to Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra.

Thus described in bland prose, Imogen may sound like a cold fish, the work of a superannuated playwright tired of himself, a Will without a will. Put in Shakespearean verse, this is not the case at all. No wonder Imogen has gathered such lavish praise from everybody. Hazlitt, who called Shakespeare’s women “exquisite logicians; for there is nothing so logical as passion”, was madly in love with Imogen: “perhaps the most tender and the most artless.” Mr Brandes goes one better with “the noblest and most adorable womanly figure in Shakespeare”. (Then again, he calls Desdemona “spiritual”!) Even Bernard Shaw, who diagnosed Imogen with multiple personality disorder and demolished one half as an intolerable prig boasting about her virtue with disgusting lack of modesty, praised the other half as “an enchanting person of the most delicate sensitiveness”. Well, the praise is justified.

We see Imogen in all sorts of situations, and she finally emerges in a class of her own. She shows courage and even wit in the face of adversity with Pisanio (III.4), firmness and common sense with Iachimo (I.6) – she does call Pisanio for help (three times!), but one feels she could handle the failed seducer by herself – and a sharp but not bitter sense of humour in humouring Cloten (II.3). When she’s in the mood, her repartee puts to shame Rosalind and Beatrice. My favourite example is when Pisanio laments that since he received the order to murder her, he hasn’t slept “one wink”. Imogen is mercilessly practical: “Do ’t, and to bed then.” Fittingly, the finest description of Imogen is given by the other superstar in the cast, Iachimo, when he first sees her and, ironically, foreshadows his own downfall (I.6):

All of her that is out of door most rich!
If she be furnish’d with a mind so rare,
She is alone the Arabian bird, and I
Have lost the wager.

Later, in that scene of hushed magnificence (II.2), Iachimo verily falls in love with the woman he tried to seduce for a wager. Who but a man madly in love would decribe a woman’s lips as “rubies unparagoned”? This is a crucial moment. As Mr Goddard has noted, the effect that the sleeping Imogen has on Iachimo is “not so much Shakespeare’s poetry getting out of bounds, as has often been held, as ground and preparation for a belief that Iachimo’s repentance in the end is sincere.” Lest we have missed the point, much later (but not too late: the very beginning of V.2) we are given a soliloquy that leaves no doubt. If Iachimo’s repentance never becomes fully convincing, neither is it totally unprepared:

The heaviness and guilt within my bosom
Takes off my manhood: I have belied a lady,
The princess of this country, and the air on’t
Revengingly enfeebles me; or could this carl,
A very drudge of nature’s, have subdued me
In my profession?

I don’t buy Mr Goddard’s allegorical fantasies, but he has some stimulating things to say about the characters. Consider that lecherous moron Cloten, a clod if there was one, but even Bernard Shaw had to admit that this “prince of numbskulls” is given a part that, “indecencies and all, is a literary masterpiece from the first line to the last.” Mr Goddard goes into the reasons for that in his typically far-reaching way (note the incisive reference to Iachimo):

Cloten. What a masterpiece! He deserves more critical attention than he has received as the final distillation of something Shakespeare had been at work on all his life. If Iachimo is his summing up of all that is ungentle in the continental gentleman, so is Cloten of all that is ignoble in the English nobility. Cloten is a sort of demonstration in advance of The Tempest of what happens when we try to civilize Caliban too rapidly. His virtues disappear and his vices are raised to the nth power.

The only thing to be said against this perceptive analysis is that one can hardly imagine Cloten ever to have had a single virtue in him. But he is a fine source of comic relief in a play that is far closer to tragedy for the most time. (Most great comedies do totter on the edge of tragedy, but to call Cymbeline a comedy would be foolish.) The way he repeats “his meanest garment” in the scene with Imogen must be hilarious on the stage, if acted well anyway. Mr Goddard thinks Cloten’s words about Caesar, the sun and the moon in the scene with the Roman ambassador (III.1) are out of character, “quite too good for such a nincompoop”. That may be. But it may also be a stroke of farcical humour with a fine comic actor. It was certainly a brilliant stroke on Shakespeare’s part to put in the mouth of one insignificant Second Lord, in the very end of II.1, the most accurate description of Cloten:

That such a crafty devil as is his mother
Should yield the world this ass! a woman that
Bears all down with her brain; and this her son
Cannot take two from twenty, for his heart,
And leave eighteen.

Posthumus is not among the most interesting characters. As Hazlitt shrewdly notes, we are interested in this guy mostly because so is Imogen. And yet Shakespeare thought well enough of him to put into his mouth one of his finest soliloquies (the ending of II.5). It is a tremendous piece of writing, a perfect expression of male pride (not vanity, mind you – pride!) that inflicts almost mortal wounds when the man in question is not man enough to swallow it. This is verbal virtuosity of the highest order, to my mind on par with anything Hamlet, Othello or Macbeth may boast as the workings of their deranged minds. It deserves to be quoted complete; note how Posthumus begins with accusations against his mother and Imogen, and then, as his anger grows and his grasp of reality weakens, he finally concludes that all women are the blackest of devils:

Is there no way for men to be but women
Must be half-workers? We are all bastards;
And that most venerable man which I
Did call my father, was I know not where
When I was stamp’d; some coiner with his tools
Made me a counterfeit: yet my mother seem’d
The Dian of that time: so doth my wife
The nonpareil of this. O, vengeance, vengeance!
Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain’d
And pray’d me oft forbearance; did it with
A pudency so rosy the sweet view on’t
Might well have warm’d old Saturn; that I thought her
As chaste as unsunn’d snow. O, all the devils!
This yellow Iachimo, in an hour, – was ’t not? –
Or less, – at first? – perchance he spoke not, but,
Like a full-acorn’d boar, a German one,
O! and mounted; found no opposition
But what he look’d for should oppose and she
Should from encounter guard. Could I find out
The woman’s part in me! For there’s no motion
That tends to vice in man, but I affirm
It is the woman’s part: be it lying, note it,
The woman’s; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers;
Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers; revenges, hers;
Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain,
Nice longing, slanders, mutability,
All faults that may be named, nay, that hell knows,
Why, hers, in part or all; but rather, all;
For even to vice
They are not constant, but are changing still
One vice, but of a minute old, for one
Not half so old as that. I’ll write against them,
Detest them, curse them: yet ‘tis greater skill
In a true hate, to pray they have their will:
The very devils cannot plague them better.

This soliloquy should be contrasted with the one from V.1 (the whole scene actually). The second is not on the same inspired level, but it certainly shows a different Posthumus. He is now filled with remorse for Imogen’s death (he thinks Pisanio has carried out his orders) and dismayed by his own betrayal of Britain (he’s come to fight for the Romans). Posthumus may not be the most unforgettable character in Shakespeare, but neither is his part as unrewarding as it is often deemed to be – if left uncut, that is.

The rest are Shakespearean shadows, but even these are less shadowy than many a character outside Shakespeare. Pisanio is certainly more than the stock figure of the faithful servant. That unforgettable scene with Imogen reveals a man of deep compassion. Belarius is indeed “the wisest and kindliest kidnapper on record” (Goddard). He is a plot convention rather than a character, but there is something in him of a Lear who has survived his catharsis. That certainly includes the language: “How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!” The two young princes are hardly even plot conventions; and yet, such is Shakespeare’s mastery this late in his career, that even these vague sketches are individualised, if not with their first appearance, at all events when they meet the disguised Imogen (III.6):

Were you a woman, youth,
I should woo hard but be your groom. In honesty,
I bid for you as I’d buy.

I’ll make ’t my comfort
He is a man; I’ll love him as my brother:
And such a welcome as I’ld give to him
After long absence, such is yours: most welcome!
Be sprightly, for you fall ‘mongst friends.

Cymbeline himself rivals Julius Caesar as the most obscure and least interesting title character in Shakespeare. He is “amazed with matter” and finds the times “troublesome”. As J. C. Trewin has joked, “no one in the First Folio is more progressively puzzled than he is during Act V.”[7] But he has the pluck to say of the Queen, after her death and fearful revelations, that “she was nought”. And indeed she is nought but a brief sketch of the evil stepmother from the fairy tales. But masterfully done with a few strokes! The scene with the doctor (I.5) is nothing if not chilling, especially when Pisanio interrupts. The Queen reflects this “flattering rascal” would be the first to taste her poison and then greets him cheerfully with “How now, Pisanio!”. I guess a fine character actress can make some impression with that part.

All in all, if accepted on its own terms, this is a terrific play. Complaints about convoluted and fantastic plot really miss the point. Complaints about insufficient or implausible motivation rest either on careless reading of the text or on meagre experience of the world. Remember, this is a “romance” in the widest sense of the word. In other words, this is a tale that deliberately avoids superficial realism in order to achieve realistic presentation of truth – something very different, rather deeper and much more significant.

[1] The Saturday Review, 26 September 1886. Reprinted in Bernard Shaw, Selected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House (Moscow), 1958, pp. 701-9. All Shaw quotes, unless otherwise noted, come from the same source.
[2] William Shakespeare, The Complete Works, ed. G. B. Harrison [1952], Harcourt Brace, 1980, pp. 1382, 1384. G.B.H. quotes Dr Johnson’s famous opinion which is, indeed, almost Shavian in its brutality: “To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, and too gross for aggravation.” I have yet to meet anybody who agrees with that assessment. G. B. Harrison, J. C. Trewin (see note 7) and Arthur Quiller-Couch (see note 5) certainly don’t.
[3] William Hazlitt, Characters of Shakespear’s Plays [1817; 2nd edn., 1818], J. M. Dent / E. P. Dutton, 1926, pp. 1-11. All other Hazlitt quotes come from the same source.
[4] Harold Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare [1951], University of Chicago Press [1960], pp. 244–261. All other Goddard quotes come from the same source.
[5] Arthur Quiller-Couch, Shakespeare’s Workmanship [1918], Fisher Unwin, 1925, pp. 259-81.
[6] Shaw on Shakespeare, ed. Edwin Wilson [1961], Applause [2002], pp. 57-74.
[7] J. C. Trewin, The Pocket Companion to Shakespeare’s Plays [1981, rev. 1994 & 2005], Bounty Books, 2013, p. 158. ( )
2 vote Waldstein | Aug 18, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I confess to a difficulty in feeling civilized just at present. Flying from the country, where the gentlemen of England are in an ecstasy of chicken-butchering, I return to town to find the higher wits assembled at a play three hundred years old, in which the sensation scene exhibits a woman waking up to find her husband reposing gorily in her arms with his head cut off. Pray understand, therefore, that I do not defend Cymbeline. It is for the most part stagey trash of the lowest melodramatic order, in parts abominably written, throughout intellectually vulgar, and, judged in point of thought by modern intellectual standards, vulgar, foolish, offensive, indecent, and exasperating beyond all tolerance.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Saturday Review, George Bernard Shaw (Sep 26, 1896)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cajander, PaavoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dowden, EdwardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hudson, Henry N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kredel, FritzCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nosworthy, J. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
You do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods

No more obey the heavens then our courtiers

Still seem as does the king.
First Gentleman. You do not meet a man but frowns.
our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the King.
Second Gentleman. But what’s the matter?
First Gentleman. His daughter, and the heir of his
kingdom, whom
He purposed to his wife’s sole son—a widow
That late he married—has referred herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She’s wedded,
Her husband banished, she imprisoned; all
Is outward sorrow; though I think the King
Be touched at very heart.
No, 'tis slander,
Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue
Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
All corners of the world.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This work is for the complete Cymbeline only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, is persecuted by her wicked stepmother, the Queen, and by Cloten, the Queen's doltish son. Disguised as a boy, she sets out to find her husband, the banished Posthumus.

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Cymbeline, an early British king, seeks to marry his daughter to his new stepson; she, however, prefers the adopted son whom Cymbeline has exiled — and she runs away to find him. The stepson hunts for them both, but, dressed in the beloved's clothes, is beheaded. When she awakens, she fears the worst. Her woods companions turn out to be the man who had kidnapped Cymbeline's own two baby sons years before, now grown. When they return to help the British fight off the Romans seeking their annual tribute, the kidnapper is a hero, but confesses to Cymbeline and his sons. All are finally reconciled.
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2 18
2.5 2
3 51
3.5 12
4 71
4.5 4
5 24

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714723, 0140707425


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