Cymbeline Study Guide

Cymbeline

Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

A complex play that is neither tragedy nor comedy, Cymbeline is a story of love, deception and jealousy. Imogen is in love with Posthumus, but her father, the king, wants her to marry Cloten, the son of his second wife, the Queen. After Posthumus is banished and tricked, Imogen disguises herself as a boy and runs after him. Desperate to have her son become king, the Queen plots to kill her husband and Imogen. In the end, only the bad characters are punished, while good comes to the others.

Cymbeline, a play of uncertain date by William Shakespeare, was produced as early as 1611. It has been described as a tragi-comedy or a romance and is set in pre-Roman Britain.

Act I

  • Lest the bargain should catch cold and starve.
    • Iachimo, scene iv

  • His fortunes all lie speechless, and his nameIs at last gasp.
    • Queen, scene v

  • Boldness be my friend!Arm me, audacity, from head to foot!
    • Iachimo, scene vi

Act II

  • Every Jack-slave hath his belly-full of fighting.
    • Cloten, scene i

  • The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd senseRepairs itself by rest.
    • Iachimo, scene ii

  • How bravely thou becom'st thy bed, fresh lily.
    • Iachimo, scene ii

  • 'Tis her breathing thatPerfumes the chamber thus.
    • Iachimo, scene ii

  • The most patient man in loss, the most coldest that ever turned up ace.
    • 1 Lord, scene iii

  • Hark! hark! The lark at heaven's gate sings,And Phoebus 'gins arise,

    His steeds to water at those springs

    On chalic'd flowers that lies;

    And winking Mary-buds begin

    To ope their golden eyes;

    With everything that pretty is,

    My lady sweet, arise:

    Arise, arise.

    • Cloten, scene iii

  • As chaste as unsunn'd snow.
    • Posthumus, scene v

Act III

  • Some griefs are med'cinable.
    • Imogen, scene ii

  • Often, to our comfort, shall we findThe sharded beetle in a safer hold

    Than is the full-wing'd eagle.

    • Belarius, scene iii

  • Richer, than doing nothing for a bribe;Prouder, than rustling in unpaid-for silk.
    • Belarius, scene iii

  • Our cageWe make a choir, as doth the prison'd bird

    And sing our bondage freely.

    • Arviragus, scene iii

  • The art o' the court,As hard to leave as keep; whose top to climb

    Is certain falling, or so slippery that

    The fear’s as bad as falling.

    • Belarius, scene iii

  • The game is up!
    • Belarius, scene iii

  • '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.

    • Pisanio, scene iv

  • Some jay of Italy,Whose mother was her painting, hath betray’d him:

    Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion.

    • Imogen, scene iv

  • It is no act of common passage, butA strain of rareness.
    • Imogen, scene iv

  • I have not slept one wink.
    • Pisanio, scene iv

  • Thou art all the comfortThe gods will diet me with.
    • Imogen, scene iv

  • WearinessCan snore upon the flint, when resty sloth

    Finds the down pillow hard.

    • Belarius, scene vi

  • By Jupiter, an angel! or, if not,An earthly paragon! Behold divineness

    No elder than a boy.

    • Belarius, scene vi

Act IV

  • Triumphs for nothing, and lamenting toys,Is jollity for apes and grief for boys.
    • Guiderius, scene ii

  • I thought he slept, and putMy clouted brogues from off my feet.
    • Arviragus, scene ii

  • With fairest flowers,Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,

    I'll sweeten thy sad grave; thou shall not lack

    The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose, nor

    The azur'd harebell, like thy veins.

    • Arviragus, scene ii

  • Fear no more the heat o' the sunNor the furious winter's rages;

    Thou thy worldly task hast done,

    Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:

    Golden lads and girls all must,

    As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

    • Guiderius, scene ii

Act V

  • O, the charity of a penny cord! it sums up thousands in a trice.
    • 1 Gaoler, scene iv

  • O, never say hereafterBut I am truest speaker: you call’d me brother

    When I was but your sister; I you, brothers,

    When you were so indeed.

    • Imogen, scene v

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