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Cymbeline

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story by William Shakespeare
Cymbeline, King of Britain, takes a new wife who has an arrogant son called Cloten. Cymbeline's lovely daughter Imogen is expected to marry Cloten. Instead Imogen marries the brave, but poor Posthumus Leonatus. Cymbeline is furious when he finds out about the marriage and banishes Posthumus who goes to Rome.

The couple have time to exchange love tokens and Imogen gives Posthumus a diamond ring and he gives her a bracelet. The villain of the plot is Iachimo who bets 10,000 ducats against Posthumus's diamond ring that he can seduce Imogen.

Iachimo travels to Britain abut his attempts to seduce Imogen fail. He does, however, manage to steal the bracelet. He returns to Italy and convinces Posthumus that Imogen has been unfaithful and so claims the diamond ring. Meanwhile the new evil Queen arranges to have her Physician make a poison to give to Pisanio, the loyal servant of Posthumus, disguised a tonic. The physician, knowing how evil the Queen is, makes a potion that numbs the senses but does not kill. Cloten is once again spurned by Imogen who tells him he is not fit to wear Posthumus's shabbiest clothes. Posthumus orders Pisanio to accompany Imogen to Wales where Posthumus has arranged to meet Imogen. He orders Pisanio to kill Imogen. Pisanio realises that Posthumus has been deceived and instead advises Imogen to get to Rome so she can see Postumus. The plan is for Imogen to dress as a page and join the Romans as a servant. Pisanio gives Imogen the 'tonic'. 

Imogen meets Belarius, a nobleman, who lives with Guiderius and Arviragus, two lost sons of Cymbeline whom Belarius had kidnapped twenty years before. Imogen dressed as a page and calling herself Fidele, is of course, although unknown to them, their sister. Cloten discovers Imogen has gone to Wales and seeking revenge follows her (dressed in old clothes owned by Postumus as a reminder to Imogen of her cutting comment) Cloten meets and argues with Guiderius and Arviragus and Guiderius decapitates him. Imogen takes the potion as a tonic and is believed dead when she is discovered. Guiderius and Arviragus take both the bodies to the forest and cover them with flowers. When Imogen awakes she finds herself next to a body wearing the clothes of Postumus and believes that he has been killed. Imogen's wicked stepmother, gone mad over the disappearance of Cloten, dies. Arviragus and Guiderius are reunited with Cybeline. Iachimo confesses and Imogen reveals her true identity and is reunited with Posthumus.

Information provided about the Cymbeline play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 ( a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that Cymbeline was first performed between 1611 and 1612. In the Elizabethan era 
there was a huge demand for new entertainment and Cymbeline would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that Cymbeline was first printed in the First Folio in 1623. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings for Cymbeline
The settings for Cymbeline are Ancient England, Wales and Rome.

Theme of Cymbeline
The play Cymbeline is categorised as a Comedy

Number of words in Cymbeline
The number of words in Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 29,054.

The settings for Cymbeline
The settings for Cymbeline are Ancient England, Wales and Rome.

Theme of Cymbeline
The play Cymbeline is categorised as a Comedy

Number of words in Cymbeline
The number of words in Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 29,054.

Most important characters
The most important characters in Cymbeline are:
Cymbeline, Imogen and Postumus

Famous Quotes / Quotations by William Shakespeare
The quotes from Cymbeline are amongst Shakespeare's most famous including
'I have not slept one wink' and 'The game is up'. Details of these famous quotes follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"The game is up."(Act III, Scene III).

"I have not slept one wink.". (Act III, Scene III).

History of Cymbeline
Cymbeline is known to history as Cunobelinus, who ruled over south-eastern Britain from 10 A.D. to 41 A.D. but was also referred to by the historian Suetonius as 'King of all the Britons'. His capital was in Colchester (Camulodunum). During his reign, Cunobelinus fought off the Romans and forged treaties with Emperors Augustus Caesar and Tiberius.

William Shakespeare's Main Source for Cymbeline
The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed. The Decameron, by Boccaccio (1313-1375)

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Text - script of Cymbeline play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Cymbeline play by William Shakespeare
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