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Complete List of Other Shakespeare Plays on DVD, Including a Version of Cymbeline
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Cymbeline
A Study Guide
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Type of Work
Key Dates
Sources
Settings
Title Information
Characters
Plot Summary
Climax
Themes
Structure, Characterization
Imagery
The Historical Cymbeline
Use of Disguises
Questions, Essay Topics
Biography of Shakespeare
Complete Free Text
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Study Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...© 2003
Revised in 2010..©

This page has been revised, enlarged, and moved to 

http://www.shakespearestudyguide.com/Cymbeline.html#Cymbeline


Type of Work

.......Cymbeline is a stage play in the form of a comedy with elements of romance.

Key Dates

Date Written: 1609 or 1610. 
First Performance: Probably 1611. 
First Published: 1623 as part of the First Folio, the first authorized collection of Shakespeare's plays.

Sources

.......Shakespeare based Cymbeline on an account in The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (Holinshed’s Chronicles), by Raphael Holinshed (?-1580?), who began work on this history under the royal printer Reginald Wolfe. The first edition of the chronicles was published in 1577 in two volumes. 
.......Shakespeare also used a story in The Decameron, by Boccaccio (1313-1375). The Decameron, written between 1349 and 1353, consists of one hundred tales told by seven men and three women to pass the time after they isolate themselves in a villa to escape the plague. An English translation of The Decameron appeared in 1566 in Palace of Pleasure, by William Painter. 
.......Shakespeare may also have used A Mirror for Magistrates (1559), by George Ferrers and William Baldwin, as a source. 

Settings
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.......The action takes place in ancient England, Wales, and Rome in the age when the forces of imperial Rome occupied Britain (probably between AD 10 and 14). However, there is a fairy-tale quality to the play that transcends time and place. 
.......Specific locales include Cymbeline's palace in England (perhaps in the vicinity of the present-day city of Colchester, which is northeast of London and south of Ipswich, in the county of Essex along the North Sea coastline), a house in Rome, a cave in the mountains of Wales, the port of Milford Haven in southwest Wales, a Roman military encampment in Britain, and a field of battle in Britain. 

The Title
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.......Although the play is entitled Cymbeline, other charactersnotably Imogen and Posthumusdominate the stage. However, the play seems appropriately named, for all of the action grows out of Cymbeline's decisions: his marriage to a miscreant, his designation of her son as his heir, his banishment of Posthumus, his banishment of Belarius, and his refusal to pay a tax to Rome.

Characters
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Protagonist: Imogen
Antagonists: Devious Characters and Situations
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Cymbeline: King of ancient Britain who attempts to marry his daughter to a worthless lout named Cloten. 
Imogen: Daughter of Cymbeline by a former queen; Imogen defies her father and marries the man she chooses. Because of her nobility of character and fidelity to her husband and her ideals, she is the most appealing character in the play. 
Posthumus Leonatus: Lower-class man who marries Imogen. Although he has many good qualities, he falters when the evil Iachimo persuades him that Imogen has been unfaithful. In this respect, he resembles Othello, the leading character in one of Shakespeare great tragedies.
Queen: Wife of Cymbeline and Imogen's malevolent stepmother. She resembles an archetypical "evil queen" or witch who appears in fairy tales. 
Philario: Friend of Posthumus.
Iachimo: Friend of Philario. Iachimo, the play's central villain, bets ten thousand ducats that he can seduce Imogen. Although he fails to do so, he persuades Posthumus that he succeeded. In this respect, he resembles Iago, the antagonist in Othello.
Cloten: Good-for-nothing son of the new queen by a former husband. 
Pisanio: Servant of Posthumus.
Belarius: Lord who had fought for Cymbeline but was banished because he was falsely accused of being a traitor. 
Guiderius, Arviragus: Adult sons of Cymbeline. They were kidnapped by Belarius when Guiderius was three years old and Aviragus two. Belarius kidnapped them to gain revenge against Cymbeline for banishing him. While they grow up in the wilds in the care of Belarius, he comes to love them. They believe he is their father. As the elder boy by a year, Guiderius is the rightful heir to Cymbeline's throne.
Helen: Attendant of Imogen.
Caius Lucius: General of the Roman forces. 
Cornelius: Physician.
Roman Captain
Two British Captains
A Frenchman, friend to Philario
Two Lords of Cymbeline's court 
Two Gentlemen of Cymbeline's court 
Two Gaolers (Jailers)
Apparitions in Posthumus's Dream: Sicilius Leonatus, Mother, First Brother, Second Brother, Jupiter.
Minor Characters: Lords, ladies, Roman senators, tribunes, soothsayer, Dutchman, Spaniard, musicians, officers, captains, soldiers, messengers, other attendants.
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Plot Summary
By Michael J. Cummings...© 2003

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.......In the garden of the palace of Britain’s King Cymbeline, two gentlemen discuss surprising news: Against Cymbeline’s wishes, his daughter—the beautiful and virtuous Imogen—has married a young man of meager means named Posthumus Leonatus. The first gentleman says Posthumus is the son of a deceased soldier, Sicilius, who distinguished himself in service against invading Romans. As a reward for his battlefield valor, Cymbeline bestowed on Sicilius the surname Leonatus, meaning lion-born. After Sicilius died, his wife also died. The ordeal of childbirth killed her while she was bearing Posthumus, and Cymbeline took the orphan under his protection. It was the king who named the child Posthumus (Latin, born after death) and allowed him to retain the surname of his father, Leonatus. Posthumus Leonatus is now a young adult of noble qualities, like his wife, in spite of his lack of wealth and position. 
.......However, the marriage of Imogen to Posthumus infuriates King Cymbeline because he had arranged for Imogen to marry Cloten, his stepson by his marriage to his second wife, now the queen. Cloten is obnoxious, mean-spirited, repulsive. His mother, the new queen, is no better than her son, although her wheedling tongue has apparently deceived Cymbeline into believing that she has regal qualities and that Cloten is a worthy heir to Cymbeline’s title and property. 
.......The first gentleman then discloses that Cymbeline had two sons by his first wife. One of the boys was destined to inherit the throne. However, a kidnapper absconded with them when they were infants. In the twenty years since the two boys disappeared, no search has turned them up and no word has been heard of their fate. Because Imogen defied his wishes and married the lowly Posthumus Leonatus, Cymbeline banishes Posthumus before the lovers can consummate their marriage. Henceforth, they are not even to speak to each other, the first gentleman says as he finishes his account of recent events. 
.......The action of the play then begins when Posthumus decides to go to Rome and lodge with Philario, who was a friend of his father. The queen smarts from Imogen’s rejection of her son, Cloten. In retaliation, she pretends that she will intercede on behalf of Posthumus, then tattles to the king that Posthumus has not yet left the court but lingers with Imogen, thus defying the king’s command. 
.......Posthumus asks Imogen to write to him, and the couple exchange gifts. Imogen gives Postumus a ring, saying: 
This diamond was my mother’s; take it, heart; 
But keep it till you woo another wife, 
When Imogen is dead.  (1.1.132)
.......Posthumus swears he will die before marrying another, then places a bracelet on Imogen’s wrist. By these tokens, they mean to keep alive their love for each other. Cymbeline storms in and orders Posthumus to leave immediately, then scolds Imogen severely for marrying a base commoner. 
.......In Rome, at the house of Philario, Posthumus speaks of his beloved Imogen as a woman of extraordinary virtue. Her constancy, he says, is beyond reproach. Present is Philario’s acquaintance Iachimo, a young man who delights in working evil against others. Iachimo wagers that he can make Imogen submit to him. Philario attempts to divert the conversation to another subject, but Posthumus unwisely accepts the challenge. Iachimo then bets ten thousand ducats against Posthumus’s diamond ring that he can seduce Imogen. Posthumus confidently declares that Iachimo will fail. 
.......Iachimo travels to Britain and, using a letter of commendation from Posthumus, introduces himself to Pisanio, the servant of Posthumus. When Postuhumus left for Rome, Pisanio remained behind to look after Imogen. After reading the letter, Pisanio introduces Iachimo to Imogen. Not long after meeting and conversing with her, Iachimo realizes that Posthumus was right: This young woman is as constant and faithful as a sunrise. Iachimo then resorts to deceit to advance his cause. First, he tells Imogen that Posthumus lives the life of an unprincipled pleasure-seeker in Rome. In revenge, Iachimo says, Imogen should give herself to him. However, Imogen remains steadfast, refusing to believe Iachimo and refusing  to yield to his advances. The clever Iachimo then admits his lies, claiming he was merely testing her to see whether she was true to her husband. Imogen accepts his explanation. What is more, she agrees to safeguard overnight in her room a chest which Iachimo says contains treasure. 
.......All this while, Imogen’s stepmother has been up to no good. She directs her malevolence this time against Pisanio. The queen orders her physician to prepare a poison she will offer to Pisanio as a kind of health elixir. However, the physician, aware of her evil ways, cooks up a drug that numbs the senses temporarily, but does not kill. When she present the drugt to Pisanio, she tells him to 
take it for thy labour:
It is a thing I made, which hath the king
Five times redeem’d from death. (1.5.73-75)
.......Meanwhile, when attendants deliver the chest to Imogen’s room, Iachimo is in it. After Imogen falls asleep, Iachimo emerges and spies out the evidence he will need to convince Posthumus that his wife was unfaithful. Not only does he write down details about the room that Posthumus will surely recognize, but he also makes a note of a birthmark under Imogen’s breast. In addition, while Imogen remains in deep sleep, he steals the bracelet Posthumus gave Imogen. He then returns to Italy with a false story to tell. 
.......After Imogen awakens in the morning, Cloten enters her room, tells her he loves her, and insists that her marriage contract to Posthumus means nothing because it was not approved by the king. But Imogen bluntly rejects him and asserts that he could never be the equal of Posthumus even if he were the son of Jupiter. The humblest garment that Posthumus owns, she says, is dearer to her than anything of Cloten’s. She then calls for Pisanio. When he enters, Imogen reports that she cannot find the bracelet Posthumus gave her; Pisanio is to ask her servant, Dorothy, to search for it. In Rome, Iachimo confronts Posthumus with what appears to be overwhelming evidence of Imogen’s infidelity: the bracelet and knowledge of Imogen’s birthmark. Posthumus, dumbfounded, concludes that Imogen yielded to Iachimo; he gives up the diamond ring and curses Imogen: “O, that I had her here, to tear her limb-meal!” (2. 4. 189)  But even as Posthumus loses faith in Imogen, her faith in him remains as strong as ever as she rejects the advances of Cloten, declaring he is not worth even the humblest garment ever worn by Posthumus. 
.......Cymbeline has problems of his own. Caius Lucius, an ambassador from Rome, arrives at Cymbeline’s court to remind him that he has not paid the emperor a required annual tax, or tribute, of three thousand pounds. Cloten speaks up, saying Britain will no longer pay the tribute. His mother, the queen, supports her son’s refusal to pay, saying Rome’s so-called conquest of Britain was really not a conquest at all; for Britain retains a hearty fighting force capable of defending itself and a government capable of self-rule. Cymbeline himself then refuses to pay. In the name of Rome, Lucius issues a declaration of war on Britain and leaves under a safe conduct pass he has received as an ambassador. 
.......Meanwhile, Posthumus, depressed and angry over Imogen’s “infidelity,” sends a message to Imogen asking her to meet him in at Milford Haven in Wales. He sends another message to his servant Pisanio, telling him to escort Imogen to Wales, then kill her. Pisanio is shocked that his master would issue such a command; Pisanio well knows that Imogen is the noblest and most virtuous woman in the land. Under no circumstances would she even contemplate disloyalty to her husband. Nor would Pisanio ever raise a hand against her. While he considers what to do, Imogen leaves for Milford Haven, as instructed by Posthumus in her letter. 
.......Near a cave in Wales, the sons of CymbelineGuiderius and Aviragushunt for deer with Belarius, the man who kidnapped them twenty years before. They think he is their father. He tells them that he fought for Cymbeline against Rome, suffering many wounds. However, he says, two villains told the king that he had defected to the Roman side. Consequently, the king banished him. When the two young men run off to chase deer, Belarius reveals, in a soliloquy, that Cymbeline is their real father. Further, he reveals that, out of revenge for his banishment, he kidnapped the boys when Guiderius was three years old and Aviragus two. Guiderius, the first-born, is heir to Cymbeline’s throne. 
.......Elsewhere, as Imogen makes her way to Milford Haven, Pisanio catches up with her and reveals the contents of the letter in which Posthumus ordered Pisanio to kill Imogen. Imogen, devastated, sees no reason to go on living and urges Pisanio to carry out the order. But Pisanio tells her that Posthumus must have been deceived by an evildoer and persuades her to take part in a plan to make things right. Here is the gist of it: Pisanio will send a message informing Posthumus that Imogen is dead. In it will be proof of her death (a piece of her clothing, blood-stained). Imogen, meanwhile, will continue on to Milford Haven in the guise of a page boy, wearing male clothing Pisanio has brought with him. Such a disguise will help protect her against those who would harm her, whether Cloten or invading soldiers, and also enable her to join up with the Romans so that she can observe coming events without giving herself away as the king’s daughter. 
.......Pisanio gives her the elixir prepared by the queen’s physician as a curative against stomach qualms or other distempers that may arise from stressful situations on her journey. Calling herself Fidele, Imogen walks on but loses her way. After two days, tired and hungry, she takes refuge in the cave of Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus. When they return from their hunt after killing a deer, the young men take a liking to the “page boy”; Imogen warms to them as well. But Imogen, of course, is not aware that Guiderius and Aviragus are her long-lost brothers; nor are they aware that she is their sister. The men go back out to dress the deer and roast the meat. Imogen prepares it to their liking. 
.......When Cloten learns of Imogen’s absence from court, he dons some old clothes of Posthumus (proving to himself that he is at the very least the equal of Posthumus as he remembers Imogen’s jibe that he was less esteemed than Posthumus’s humblest garment). Then he sets out after her. Believing that Posthumus has returned from Italy and that she has gone to meet him, Cloten plots to kill Posthumus and defile Imogen. 
.......At the cave the next day, Imogen, perhaps still fatigued from her long journey, feels woozy. While the men go off to hunt again, she remains behind to recover her strength. To help nature along, she takes a swig of the elixir. Before the men go very far, they happen upon Cloten. Belarius, realizing he is the son of the queen, goes off to scout the area, thinking there may be others traveling with Cloten. While they are gone, Cloten assumes Guiderius is an outlaw and insults him. They spar verbally, then fight. Guiderius decapitates him and throws his head into a stream. 
.......When the Belarius and Aviragus return, Imogen is in a stupor induced by the elixir, and everyone thinks she is dead. Aviragus and Guiderius experience deep sorrow, for they had grown to love the page boy as if he were their own brother. They carry her body into the forest, lay it down beside the headless Cloten, and cover both bodies with flowers. When Imogen awakens later in a daze from the effects of the drug, she thinks she must have been walking toward Milford Haven. Then she sees the headless body of Cloten in the clothes of Posthumus and concludes that Pisanio must have killed Posthumus. She faints, falling on the body. 
.......After Roman troops under Lucius arrive at Milford Haven and march eastward, they discover Imogenstill disguised as a pagelying on Cloten’s corpse. She awakens from her fainting spell, still thinking the body next to her is that of Posthumus. She praises him to the Romans, and they think her a fine lad and take her with them. 
.......Meanwhile, young men of Romeincluding Iachimo and Posthumushave also landed at Milford Haven to fight for the Romans. Posthumus, who has a blood-stained handkerchief sent to him by Pisanio as evidence that he killed Imogen, deeply regrets ordering her death. He takes off his Roman garb and puts on the clothes of a British peasant, deciding he will fight to the death for the Britons for the sake of Imogen. In the Roman camp, Iachimo, too, regrets his past action, saying he betrayed a noble lady. During the battle, Belarius, Guiderius, and Aviragus take the field on the British side. The Romans capture Cymbeline, but Guiderius and Aviragus rescue him. Then the tide turns and the Britons capture Lucius. Posthumus, who has fought valiantly, regrets that he did not die in battle, so he tells two British soldiers that he is a Roman, hoping they will arrest him for execution. He gets his suicidal wish, and they take him into custody. 
.......During his captivity, he falls asleep and sees the ghosts of his father, Sicilius, and other dead family members. When they petition Jupiter for mercy on him, the great god appears and predicts Posthumus’s fortunes will rise and that he will reunite with Imogen. 
.......In his tent on the battlefield, Cymbeline, victorious, inquires about the peasant (Posthumus) who fought valiantly for the Britons. Belarius says he is nowhere to be found. The physician Cornelius arrives to announce that the queen has died. The absence of her son, Cloten, from the court apparently precipitated a fatal malady. Before she died, she confessed that she never loved the king but married him for his position and power. Furthermore, Cornelius says, she despised Imogen and concocted a plan to kill her. Finally, he says, she intended to murder the king himself by giving him poison in small doses, enabling her to care for him while he was dying and extract from him a promise that Cloten would succeed as king. Witnesses to her evil deeds are there to swear that Cornelius’s story is true. 
.......Lucius, now a prisoner of Cymbeline, enters and graciously begs mercy for the page boy (Imogen) with him, saying the boy served him with great distinction. Belarius, Guiderius, and Aviragus are surprised to see that the boy they thought dead is still alive. Imogen then sees Iachimoand the ring he won from Posthumus. Still conscience-stricken, Iachimo confesses his evil scheme against Posthumus and Imogen. While Posthumus is led away for execution, Iachimo identifies him. Posthumus curses Iachimo, then condemns himself as the murderer of Imogen. To the astonishment and joy of everyone, the page boy then reveals himself as Imogen. 
.......Pisanio then discloses the villainy of Cloten, and Guiderius owns up that he beheaded Cloten during a violent quarrel. His disclosure makes Imogen realize that the headless body she saw when she awakened from her stupor was Cloten’s. Belarius next takes his turn at a confession, revealing that Guiderius and Aviragus are the king’s true sons and that it was he, Belarius, who made off with them two decades before. When the king sees a birthmark on the neck of Guiderius, he knows that Belarius is telling the truth. Meanwhile, Aviragus and Guiderius are joyful at the news that the page boy turns out to be their sister. 
.......Posthumus forgives Iachimo, and the king pardons all captives. In addition, although he has won the battle against Lucius, he agrees to pay tribute to Rome, realizing that the empire is a mighty power with many more legions in reserve. Peace reigns and Posthumus and Imogen are reunited as husband and wife. 
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Climax
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.......The climax of a play or another narrative work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events. 
.......The climax of Cymbeline occurs, according to the first definition, when Pisanio refuses to carry out an order to kill Imogen. Here are the key events leading up to this moment: First, Iachimo persuades Posthumous that Imogen has been unfaithful. Next, Posthumous, believing the terrible lie, sends a message to Pisanio directing him to kill Imogen. Pisanio then tracks down Imogen and shows her the message. Brokenhearted, Imogen bids Pisanio to carry out the order, saying,
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..............I draw the sword myself: take it, and hit
..............The innocent mansion of my love, my heart;
..............Fear not; 'tis empty of all things but grief;
..............Thy master is not there, who was indeed
..............The riches of it: do his bidding; strike. (3. 4. 61-65)
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But Pisanio, who has always believed in the innocence of Imogen, refuses to carry out the order. The climax comes when Pisanio says, "Hence, vile instrument! / Thou shalt not damn my hand" (3.4.68-69). In refusing to murder her, Pisanio thwarts Iachimo's evil plan, saves Imogen's life, and allows the drama to proceed to a happy rather than tragic ending.
.......According to the second definition, the climax occurs in the final act when Iachimo is revealed as a villain, the "page" is revealed as Imogen, and Imogen and Posthumous are reunited, supposedly to live happily ever after.
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Themes
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Fidelity triumphs over treachery. A faithful and innocent young woman overcomes mistreatment, calumny, and other injustice to be reunited with her husband.
All is not as it seems. (1) Posthumus is deceived into believing that Imogen has been unfaithful even though she remains steadfast in her love for him. (2) Imogen disguises herself as a male page to join the Romans and return with them to Italy to find Posthumus. (3) After Imogen swallows a potion and goes into a stupor, Arviragus and Guiderius believe she is dead. (4) After Imogen awakens she mistakes the dead Cloton, who is wearing Posthumus's clothes, for Posthumus.
It is never too late to redeem oneself. Posthumus, who plotted to kill Imogen, suffers deep remorse and redeems himself. 
The queen owns up to her treachery on her deathbed. Cornelius says she repented her misdeeds during the long absence of her son, Cloten. Iachimo likewise confesses his evil deeds and gains a pardon. At the same time, Belarius reveals that it was he who kidnapped Cymbeline's son. Cymbeline and Lucius make peace. 
Deception is everywhere in life. Iachimo tricks Posthumus into believing Imogen has been unfaithful. Posthumus deceives Imogen in his letter to her, telling her he loves her at a time when is plotting to kill her. Imogen deceives everyone with her disguise as a page boy. Cloten, though dead, deceives Imogen into believing that he is Posthumus because he is wearing Posthumus's clothes. Belarius deceives Guiderius and Aviragus into believing that he is their father. The queen pretends to love Cymbeline even as she plots to poison him. Only Imogen, the virtuous heroine, benefits by deceiving others.
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Structure and Characterization
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.......Cymbeline has a complicated plot requiring time leaps and rapid shifts in scenes from one locale to another. As the details of the plot unfold, the central love story broadens into many subplots or episodes involving the evil schemes of Iachimo, the queen, and her son; the war between Rome and Britain; and the adventures of the king's lost sons. 
.......To weave all the plot elements into a whole and to resolve all the conflicts, Shakespeare leaves little time for character development and sometimes forces contrived resolutions. For example, Iachimo and the queen—both presented as irredeemably evil at the beginning of the play—surprisingly confess their crimes to other characters before the end. Imogen becomes sick—of what ailment, who knows—providing a way for Shakespeare to have her drink the elixir concocted by Cornelius and fall into a stupor on the headless body of Cloten, who just happens to be wearing the clothes of Posthumus. (Because of the clothes, Imogen believes Posthumus is dead.) 

Imagery

.......The imagery in Cymbeline is typically Shakespearean—absolutely brilliant at times, with many memorable lines. One example of the outstanding imagery is the aubade (joyful song about dawn and its beauty) performed by musicians:

Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
And Phoebus 'gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs
On chaliced flowers that lies;
And winking Mary-buds begin
To ope their golden eyes:
With every thing that pretty is,
My lady sweet, arise:
Arise, arise. (2.3.12-20)

Phoebus: An allusion to the Greek god Apollo, who personified the sun. Each day, he drove his golden chariot across the sky, from east to west..

Another example is Pisanio's condemnation of slander (Iachimo's crime) in Act III, Scene IV, beginning at Line 35:
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: kings, queens and states,
Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave
This viperous slander enters.

posting: speeding, swift.

In Act III,  Shakespeare, through Pisanio, gives the English-speaking world a familiar phrase to describe a restless night: “I have not slept one wink” (3.4.98). 

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The Historical Cymbeline
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.......King Cymbeline is known to history as Cunobelinus, who ruled over southeastern Britain from AD 10 to 41 from his capital in Colchester, then known as Camulodunum, on the Colne River. [Curiously, for whatever it is worth, the pronunciation of the first seven letters of CamulodunumCamulod—sounds not unlike the legendary name for King Arthur's residence, Camelot.] The Roman historian Suetonius referred to Cunobelinus as the king of all the Britons. During his reign, Cunobelinus kept Roman advancement at bay, forging treaties with Emperors Augustus Caesar and Tiberius. An invasion attempt by forces of the demented Emperor Caligula came to naught in AD 40. However, Romans under Emperor Claudius I captured Camulodunum in AD 43 and ruled it as the first Roman colony in Britain. 
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Use of Disguises
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.......Time and again, Shakespeare disguises women as men to further a plot. For example, In All's Well That Ends Well, Helena wears the attire of a pilgrim to get close to Bertram. In Cymbeline, Imogen becomes a page boy to win back Posthumus. Julia also becomes a page boy in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, as does Viola in Twelfth Night. In The Merchant of Venice, Portia disguises herself as a male judge to save the friend of her lover in a court of law. Rosalind, in As You Like It, dons the garb of a man to become a shepherd as she seeks out her love, Orlando. In each of these plays, the women disguised as men eventually reveal their true female identities All of this could have been quite confusing to playgoers in Shakespeare's day, for only men played women's roles. Thus, in the above-mentioned plays, men played women disguised as men who at some point doffed their male identities to reveal themselves as females

Study Questions and Essay Topics

1. Which character in the play do you most admire? Which character do you least admire?
2. Against the wishes of her father, Imogen marries Posthumus. In today’s society is it still commonplace for parents to.attempt to choose spouses for their children? 
3. What are Cymbeline’s strengths and weaknesses as a king?
4. Explain the role birthmarks play in creating and resolving problems.
5. After Iachimo dupes Posthumus into believing that Imogen has been unfaithful, Posthumus orders his servant, Pisanio, to kill her. In your opinion, do the subsequent actions of Posthumus redeem him for doubting Imogen and ordering her death?
6. Write an informative essay discussing the extent to which imperial Rome helped shape the early history of Britain. 
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Plays on DVD (or VHS) 
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Play Director Actors
Antony and Cleopatra (1974) Trevor Nunn, John Schoffield Richard Johnson, Janet Suzman
Antony and Cleopatra BBC Production Jane Lapotaire 
As You Like It (2010)  Thea Sharrock Jack Laskey, Naomi Frederick
As You Like It (1937)  Paul Czinner Henry Ainley, Felix Aylmer
The Comedy of Errors BBC Production Not Listed
Coriolanus BBC Production Alan Howard, Irene Worth
Cymbeline Elijah Moshinsky Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Helen Mirren
Gift Box: The Comedies BBC Production Various
Gift Box: The Histories BBC Production Various
Gift Box: The Tragedies BBC Production Various
Hamlet (1948)  Laurence Olivier Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons
Hamlet (1990)  Kevin Kline Kevin Kline
Hamlet(1991)  Franco Zeffirelli Mel Gibson, Glenn Close
Hamlet (1996)  Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh, 
Hamlet (2009) Gregory Doran David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie
Hamlet (1964)  John Gielgud, Bill Colleran Richard Burton, Hume Cronyn
Hamlet (1964)  Grigori Kozintsev Innokenti Smoktunovsky
Hamlet (2000)  Cambpell Scott, Eric Simonson Campbell Scott, Blair Brown
Henry V (1989)  Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branaugh, Derek Jacobi
Henry V( 1946)  Laurence Olivier Leslie Banks, Felix Aylmer
Henry VI Part I BBC Production Peter Benson, Trevor Peacock
Henry VI Part II BBC Production Not Listed
Henry VI Part III BBC Production Not Listed
Henry VIII BBC Production John Stride, Claire Bloom, Julian Glover
Julius Caesar BBC Production Richard Pasco, Keith Michell
Julius Caesar (1950)  David Bradley Charlton Heston
Julius Caesar (1953)  Joseph L. Mankiewicz Marlon Brando, James Mason
Julius Caesar (1970)  Stuart Burge Charlton Heston, Jason Robards
King John BBC Production Not Listed
King Lear (1970) Grigori Kozintsev Yuri Yarvet
King Lear (1971) Peter Brook Cyril Cusack, Susan Engel
King Lear (1974)  Edwin Sherin James Earl Jones
King Lear (1976)  Tony Davenall Patrick Mower, Ann Lynn
King Lear (1984)  Michael Elliott Laurence Olivier, Colin Blakely
King Lear (1997)  Richard Eyre Ian Holm
Love's Labour's Lost (2000) Kenneth Branagh Kenneth Branagh, Alicia Silverstone 
Love's Labour's Lost BBC Production) Not Listed
Macbeth (1978)  Philip Casson Ian McKellen, Judy Dench
Macbeth BBC Production Not Listed
The Merchant of Venice BBC Production Warren Mitchell, Gemma Jones
The Merchant of Venice (2001)  Christ Hunt, Trevor Nunn David Bamber, Peter De Jersey
The Merchant of Venice (1973) John Sichel Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1970)  Not Listed Leon Charles, Gloria Grahame
Midsummer Night's Dream (1996)  Adrian Noble Lindsay Duncan, Alex Jennings
A Midsummer Night's Dream  (1999) Michael Hoffman Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)  Kenneth Branaugh Branaugh, Emma Thompson
Much Ado About Nothing (1973)  Nick Havinga  Sam Waterston, F. Murray Abraham
Othello (2005)  Janet Suzman Richard Haines, John Kaki
Othello (1990)  Trevor Nunn Ian McKellen, Michael Grandage
Othello (1965)  Stuart Burge Laurence Olivier, Frank Finlay
Othello (1955)  Orson Welles Orson Welles
Othello (1983)  Franklin Melton Peter MacLean, Bob Hoskins, Jenny Agutter
Ran  (1985) Japanese Version of King Lear  Akira Kurosawa Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao
Richard II (2001)  John Farrell  Matte Osian, Kadina de Elejalde
Richard III (1912)  André Calmettes, James Keane  Robert Gemp, Frederick Warde
Richard III - Criterion Collection (1956)  Laurence Olivier Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson
Richard III (1995)  Richard Loncraine Ian McKellen, Annette Bening
Richard III BBC Production Ron Cook, Brian Protheroe, Michael Byrne
Romeo and Juliet (1968)  Franco Zeffirelli Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey
Romeo and Juliet (1996)  Baz Luhrmann Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes
Romeo and Juliet (1976)  Joan Kemp-Welch Christopher Neame, Ann Hasson
Romeo and Juliet BBC Production John Gielgud, Rebecca Saire, Patrick Ryecart
The Taming of the Shrew Franco Zeffirelli Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
The Taming of the Shrew Kirk Browning Raye Birk, Earl Boen, Ron Boussom
The Taming of The Shrew Not Listed Franklin Seales, Karen Austin 
The Tempest Paul Mazursky John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands
The Tempest (1998) Jack Bender Peter Fonda, John Glover, Harold Perrineau,
Throne of Blood (1961) Macbeth in Japan  Akira Kurosawa Toshirô Mifune, Isuzu Yamada
Twelfth Night (1996)  Trevor Nunn Helena Bonham Carter
Twelfth Night BBC Production Not Listed
The Two Gentlemen of Verona BBC Production John Hudson, Joanne Pearce
The Winter's Tale  (2005)  Greg Doran Royal Shakespeare Company
The Winter's Tale BBC Production Not Listed

 

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