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Cymbeline

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Cymbeline (A Romantic Tragicomedy)

Cymbeline, the King of Britain, is a widower with three children. His two boys (Guiderius and Arviragus) were kidnapped 20 years ago at age three, leaving his daughter, Imogen, as the only heir to the throne. Cymbeline marries, gaining a stepson, Cloten (rhymes with rotten) through his wife, the Queen, begotten from a previous marriage. Cymbeline wishes Imogen to marry her stepbrother, Cloten. Imogen disobeys and marries her childhood friend Posthumus Leonatus. Cymbeline, outraged, banishes Posthumus from Britain and imprisons Imogen (to the castle only, however).

Posthumus goes to Rome and meets his wartime friend, Philario. In Rome, Iachimo (a Frenchman) bets Posthumus that he (Iachimo) can woo Posthumus' wife Imogen, thereby breaking her chastity. Posthumus takes Iachimo up on the bet, and Iachimo heads to Britain. Iachimo cannot woo Imogen, however, so he sneaks into her bedroom, steals her bracelet, and returns to Rome to successfully convince Posthumus that he has succeeded, though he hadn't actually succeeded. Posthumus, in anger, orders his servant, Pisanio, to kill Imogen. Pisanio cannot, though he makes it look like Imogen is dead by taking her to Milford Haven and disguising her as a male named Fidele. In Milford Haven, Imogen (as Fidele) meets her brothers living with Belarius, a lord banished years ago by Cymbeline. Imogen, of course, does not know this, though. It turns out that Belarius had kidnapped the boys in anger towards Cymbeline for banishing him.

Unbeknownst to Imogen, Cloten had followed her to Milford Haven, wearing Posthumus' clothes, in hopes of tricking Imogen, since Cloten wishes to marry her. Cloten meets Guiderius and Cloten treats him rudely; a fight ensues and Guiderius cuts off Cloten's head. To cover up the death, he puts the head in the river and lets it float to the sea. Imogen falls sick and takes medicine given to her by Pisanio as a present. {The Queen had given the medicine (she thought poison) to Pisanio, thinking he would give it to Imogen or Posthumus as a gift. The Queen wanted one of them dead so that either her son would be the only heir, or Imogen would have no husband and would be forced to marry Cloten. The medicine was given to the Queen by the doctor Cornelius, though she had requested he give her poison.} The medicine puts Imogen into a deep sleep, and Belarius et al., thinking she is dead, lay her to rest (above ground) beside Cloten's body. When Imogen awakes, she thinks (by the clothing) that she is beside her dead husband.

Meanwhile, Caius Lucius had visited Cymbeline demanding tribute to Rome and Augustus Caesar. Cymbeline refuses and Lucius declares war on Britain. From all this stress, and because her son is missing (actually dead), the Queen gets sick and dies. On her death bed she admits many evils, including hating Cymbeline. Caius Lucius comes across Imogen right after she awakens, and Imogen joins his army in despair. In the only battle of the war, Cymbeline is captured by the Romans, then rescued by Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus, plus a little help from Posthumus. The Britons then capture Posthumus, thinking he is Roman, and take him to Cymbeline, but only after Posthumus is visited by his late father, mother, brothers and Jupiter in a vision. In the last scene of the play, Imogen returns to her father, Iachimo confesses of his evils and the stealing of Imogen's bracelet, Cornelius explains the Queen's medicine/"poison", Cloten's death is explained, Belarius admits to kidnapping the princes, Cymbeline allows Imogen and Posthumus to stay married, a soothsayer explains a book left in Posthumus' lap by the god Jupiter, and peace is made with the Romans. Cymbeline does not punish Iachimo or Belarius.

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Act 1, Scene I
Enter two Gentlemen 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's kingdom, whom He purposed to his wife's sole son--a widow That late he married--hath referr'd herself Unto a poor but worthy gentleman: she's wedded; Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd: all Is outward sorrow; though I think the king Be touch'd at very heart. Second Gentleman None but the king? First Gentleman He that hath lost her too; so is the queen, That most desired the match; but not a courtier, Although they wear their faces to the bent Of the king's look's, hath a heart that is not Glad at the thing they scowl at. Second Gentleman And why so? First Gentleman He that hath miss'd the princess is a thing Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her-- I mean, that married her, alack, good man! And therefore banish'd--is a creature such As, to seek through the regions of the earth For one his like, there would be something failing In him that should compare. I do not think So fair an outward and such stuff within Endows a man but he. Second Gentleman You speak him far. First Gentleman I do extend him, sir, within himself, Crush him together rather than unfold His measure duly. Second Gentleman What's his name and birth? First Gentleman I cannot delve him to the root: his father Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour Against the Romans with Cassibelan, But had his titles by Tenantius whom He served with glory and admired success, So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus; And had, besides this gentleman in question, Two other sons, who in the wars o' the time Died with their swords in hand; for which their father, Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow That he quit being, and his gentle lady, Big of this gentleman our theme, deceased As he was born. The king he takes the babe To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus, Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber, Puts to him all the learnings that his time Could make him the receiver of; which he took, As we do air, fast as 'twas minister'd, And in's spring became a harvest, lived in court-- Which rare it is to do--most praised, most loved, A sample to the youngest, to the more mature A glass that feated them, and to the graver A child that guided dotards; to his mistress, For whom he now is banish'd, her own price Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue; By her election may be truly read What kind of man he is. Second Gentleman I honour him Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell me, Is she sole child to the king? First Gentleman His only child. He had two sons: if this be worth your hearing, Mark it: the eldest of them at three years old, I' the swathing-clothes the other, from their nursery Were stol'n, and to this hour no guess in knowledge Which way they went. Second Gentleman How long is this ago? First Gentleman Some twenty years. Second Gentleman That a king's children should be so convey'd, So slackly guarded, and the search so slow, That could not trace them! First Gentleman Howsoe'er 'tis strange, Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at, Yet is it true, sir. Second Gentleman I do well believe you. First Gentleman We must forbear: here comes the gentleman, The queen, and princess. Exeunt Enter the QUEEN, POSTHUMUS LEONATUS, and IMOGEN QUEEN No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter, After the slander of most stepmothers, Evil-eyed unto you: you're my prisoner, but Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus, So soon as I can win the offended king, I will be known your advocate: marry, yet The fire of rage is in him, and 'twere good You lean'd unto his sentence with what patience Your wisdom may inform you. POSTHUMUS LEONATUS Please your highness, I will from hence to-day. QUEEN You know the peril. I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying The pangs of barr'd affections, though the king Hath charged you should not speak together. Exit IMOGEN O Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband, I something fear my father's wrath; but nothing-- Always reserved my holy duty--what His rage can do on me: you must be gone; And I shall here abide the hourly shot Of angry eyes, not comforted to live, But that there is this jewel in the world That I may see again. POSTHUMUS LEONATUS My queen! my mistress! O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause To be suspected of more tenderness Than doth become a man. I will remain The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth: My residence in Rome at one Philario's, Who to my father was a friend, to me Known but by letter: thither write, my queen, And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send, Though ink be made of gall. Re-enter QUEEN QUEEN Be brief, I pray you: If the king come, I shall incur I know not How much of his displeasure. Aside Yet I'll move him To walk this way: I never do him wrong, But he does buy my injuries, to be friends; Pays dear for my offences. Exit POSTHUMUS LEONATUS Should we be taking leave As long a term as yet we have to live, The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu! IMOGEN Nay, stay a little: Were you but riding forth to air yourself, Such parting were too petty. Look here, love; This diamond was my mother's: take it, heart; But keep it till you woo another wife, When Imogen is dead. POSTHUMUS LEONATUS How, how! another? You gentle gods, give me but this I have, And sear up my embracements from a next With bonds of death! Putting on the ring Remain, remain thou here While sense can keep it on. And, sweetest, fairest, As I my poor self did exchange for you, To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles I still win of you: for my sake wear this; It is a manacle of love; I'll place it Upon this fairest prisoner. Putting a bracelet upon her arm IMOGEN O the gods! When shall we see again? Enter CYMBELINE and Lords POSTHUMUS LEONATUS Alack, the king! CYMBELINE Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight! If after this command thou fraught the court With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away! Thou'rt poison to my blood. POSTHUMUS LEONATUS The gods protect you! And bless the good remainders of the court! I am gone. Exit IMOGEN There cannot be a pinch in death More sharp than this is. CYMBELINE O disloyal thing, That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap'st A year's age on me. IMOGEN I beseech you, sir, Harm not yourself with your vexation I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare Subdues all pangs, all fears. CYMBELINE Past grace? obedience? IMOGEN Past hope, and in despair; that way, past grace. CYMBELINE That mightst have had the sole son of my queen! IMOGEN O blest, that I might not! I chose an eagle, And did avoid a puttock. CYMBELINE Thou took'st a beggar; wouldst have made my throne A seat for baseness. IMOGEN No; I rather added A lustre to it. CYMBELINE O thou vile one! IMOGEN Sir, It is your fault that I have loved Posthumus: You bred him as my playfellow, and he is A man worth any woman, overbuys me Almost the sum he pays. CYMBELINE What, art thou mad? IMOGEN Almost, sir: heaven restore me! Would I were A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus Our neighbour shepherd's son! CYMBELINE Thou foolish thing! Re-enter QUEEN They were again together: you have done Not after our command. Away with her, And pen her up. QUEEN Beseech your patience. Peace, Dear lady daughter, peace! Sweet sovereign, Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some comfort Out of your best advice. CYMBELINE Nay, let her languish A drop of blood a day; and, being aged, Die of this folly! Exeunt CYMBELINE and Lords QUEEN Fie! you must give way. Enter PISANIO Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news? PISANIO My lord your son drew on my master. QUEEN Ha! No harm, I trust, is done? PISANIO There might have been, But that my master rather play'd than fought And had no help of anger: they were parted By gentlemen at hand. QUEEN I am very glad on't. IMOGEN Your son's my father's friend; he takes his part. To draw upon an exile! O brave sir! I would they were in Afric both together; Myself by with a needle, that I might prick The goer-back. Why came you from your master? PISANIO On his command: he would not suffer me To bring him to the haven; left these notes Of what commands I should be subject to, When 't pleased you to employ me. QUEEN This hath been Your faithful servant: I dare lay mine honour He will remain so. PISANIO I humbly thank your highness. QUEEN Pray, walk awhile. IMOGEN About some half-hour hence, I pray you, speak with me: you shall at least Go see my lord aboard: for this time leave me. Exeunt

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