Here is a short Cymbeline summary:
Cymbeline is a late Shakespeare play and he brings some of his most persistent ideas on to the stage. Appearance and reality in the form of deceit is strong in this play. There is also a powerful interest for the audience in its theatrical acts of pursuit and seduction.
Cymbeline is the King of Britain. He marries an unpleasant woman who has an arrogant son called Cloten. Cymbeline arranges the marriage of his beautiful daughter, Imogen, to Cloten but she defies him and marries the poor but worthy Posthumus Leonatus in secret.
Cymbeline banishes Posthumus, who goes to Rome. Imogen gives him a diamond ring and he gives her a bracelet.
Several plot lines follow, involving disguises, mistaken identity, deceit, treachery and poison. The villain of the play is Iachimo, who bets a large sum of money against Posthumus’ ring that he can seduce Imogen when he goes to Britain. Arriving there, he realises that she cannot be seduced, but, he hides in her bedroom, spies on her and on the basis of what he sees, manufactures ‘evidence’ that convinces Posthumus that he has won the wager.
Posthumus commissions his servant Pisanio to kill Innogen at Milford Haven, but instead, Pisanio helps her to disguise herself as Fidele, a page, and she goes to Wales. Cloten pursues her to Wales disguised as Posthumus. He is determined to rape her and kill Posthumus. Instead, he is killed by one of her brothers, and his body is laid beside Imogen, who has taken a potion that makes her appear to be dead.
Posthumus wages war against the Romans and defeats them.
The play has a traditional comic ending. Iachimo confesses to his misdemeanors, the characters reveal themselves, all the misunderstandings are resolved and the lovers are reunited.
And that’s a quick Cymbeline summary. What are your thoughts – anything unclear, or missing? Please let us know in the comments section below.See summaries of Shakespeare’s other plays >>