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Act 1, scene 5



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Cymbeline, which takes place in ancient Britain, is filled with hidden identities, extraordinary schemes, and violent acts. Long ago, the…

Act 1, scene 1

At the court of King Cymbeline, the princess, Imogen, has secretly married a gentleman named Posthumus Leonatus. Imogen is the…

Act 1, scene 2

An encounter between Cloten and Posthumus, reported in 1.1, is here discussed by Cloten and two lords.

Act 1, scene 3

Posthumus’s servant, Pisanio, describes to the grieving Imogen the departure of Posthumus toward Rome.

Act 1, scene 4

Posthumus arrives in Rome, where an Italian gentleman, Iachimo, maneuvers him into placing a bet on Imogen’s chastity. Posthumus bets…

Act 1, scene 5

The queen obtains a box that she is told contains poison. (The audience is told that the box actually contains…

Act 1, scene 6

Iachimo arrives in Britain and begins his attempt to seduce Imogen by telling her that Posthumus is betraying her with…

Act 2, scene 1

Cloten and two lords discuss the arrival of Iachimo. The Second Lord, in soliloquy, expresses the hope that Imogen will…

Act 2, scene 2

As Imogen sleeps, the trunk that she is keeping for Iachimo opens, and Iachimo emerges. Before climbing back into it,…

Act 2, scene 3

Cloten serenades Imogen in an attempt to win her love. Imogen enrages Cloten by saying that he is not as…

Act 2, scene 4

Iachimo returns to Rome with his proofs of Imogen’s unfaithfulness: descriptions of her bedroom and of private marks on her…

Act 2, scene 5

Posthumus, in soliloquy, attacks women as the embodiment of all that is vicious.

Act 3, scene 1

Caius Lucius arrives as ambassador from Augustus Caesar, demanding that Cymbeline pay the tribute Britain owes to Rome. With the…

Act 3, scene 2

Pisanio receives two letters from Posthumus—one in which Pisanio is instructed to kill Imogen, and another written to Imogen, telling…

Act 3, scene 3

Three men enter as if from a cave, the two younger men protesting the limitations of their mountain lives. When…

Act 3, scene 4

On the journey to Milford Haven, Pisanio reveals to Imogen that he is supposed to kill her. She is so…

Act 3, scene 5

When Imogen’s absence from court is discovered, Cloten forces Pisanio to tell him where she is. Pisanio shows him the…

Act 3, scene 6

Imogen, disguised as a boy named Fidele, stumbles, exhausted and famished, into the cave of Belarius and the two young…

Act 3, scene 7

A Roman senator announces that the Roman army attacking Britain will be under the control of Caius Lucius and that…

Act 4, scene 1

Cloten, dressed in Posthumus’s garments, arrives at the spot where he plans to cut off Posthumus’s head and rape Imogen.

Act 4, scene 2

Imogen, not feeling well, takes the potion given her by Pisanio, thinking it is a restorative; the potion puts her…

Act 4, scene 3

Cymbeline finds himself alone in the face of the Roman attack, with Imogen and Cloten both missing and the queen…

Act 4, scene 4

The young princes persuade Belarius that the three of them should join with the Britons against Rome.

Act 5, scene 1

Posthumus, in Britain as part of the Roman army, repents Imogen’s (reported) murder and decides to seek death by joining…

Act 5, scene 2

In a series of battles, Posthumus (disguised as a peasant) defeats and disarms Iachimo; the Britons flee and Cymbeline is…

Act 5, scene 3

Posthumus, still seeking death and failing to find it as a poor British soldier, reverts to his earlier role as…

Act 5, scene 4

Posthumus, in chains, falls asleep and is visited by the ghosts of his dead family and by the god Jupiter,…

Act 5, scene 5

Cymbeline knights Belarius and the two young men in gratitude for their valor, and sends in search of the poor…

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Scene 5
Enter Queen, Ladies, and Cornelius.

 Whiles yet the dew’s on ground, gather those flowers.
 Make haste. Who has the note of them?
LADY  I, madam.
QUEEN Dispatch.Ladies exit.
5 Now, Master Doctor, have you brought those drugs?

ACT 1. SC. 5

 Pleaseth your Highness, ay. Here they are, madam.
He hands her a small box.
 But I beseech your Grace, without offense—
 My conscience bids me ask—wherefore you have
 Commanded of me these most poisonous
10 compounds,
 Which are the movers of a languishing death,
 But though slow, deadly.
QUEEN  I wonder, doctor,
 Thou ask’st me such a question. Have I not been
15 Thy pupil long? Hast thou not learned me how
 To make perfumes, distil, preserve—yea, so
 That our great king himself doth woo me oft
 For my confections? Having thus far proceeded,
 Unless thou think’st me devilish, is ’t not meet
20 That I did amplify my judgment in
 Other conclusions? I will try the forces
 Of these thy compounds on such creatures as
 We count not worth the hanging—but none human—
 To try the vigor of them and apply
25 Allayments to their act, and by them gather
 Their several virtues and effects.
CORNELIUS  Your Highness
 Shall from this practice but make hard your heart.
 Besides, the seeing these effects will be
30 Both noisome and infectious.
QUEEN  O, content thee.

Enter Pisanio.

 Aside. Here comes a flattering rascal. Upon him
 Will I first work. He’s for his master
 And enemy to my son.—How now, Pisanio?—
35 Doctor, your service for this time is ended.
 Take your own way.
CORNELIUS, aside  I do suspect you, madam,
 But you shall do no harm.

ACT 1. SC. 5

QUEEN, to Pisanio  Hark thee, a word.
40 I do not like her. She doth think she has
 Strange ling’ring poisons. I do know her spirit,
 And will not trust one of her malice with
 A drug of such damned nature. Those she has
 Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile,
45 Which first perchance she’ll prove on cats and dogs,
 Then afterward up higher. But there is
 No danger in what show of death it makes,
 More than the locking-up the spirits a time,
 To be more fresh, reviving. She is fooled
50 With a most false effect, and I the truer
 So to be false with her.
QUEEN  No further service, doctor,
 Until I send for thee.
CORNELIUS  I humbly take my leave.He exits.
55 Weeps she still, sayst thou? Dost thou think in time
 She will not quench and let instructions enter
 Where folly now possesses? Do thou work.
 When thou shalt bring me word she loves my son,
 I’ll tell thee on the instant thou art then
60 As great as is thy master; greater, for
 His fortunes all lie speechless, and his name
 Is at last gasp. Return he cannot, nor
 Continue where he is. To shift his being
 Is to exchange one misery with another,
65 And every day that comes comes to decay
 A day’s work in him. What shalt thou expect,
 To be depender on a thing that leans,
 Who cannot be new built, nor has no friends
 So much as but to prop him? (She drops the box
 and Pisanio picks it up.) 
70Thou tak’st up
 Thou know’st not what. But take it for thy labor.
 It is a thing I made which hath the King

ACT 1. SC. 5

 Five times redeemed from death. I do not know
 What is more cordial. Nay, I prithee, take it.
75 It is an earnest of a farther good
 That I mean to thee. Tell thy mistress how
 The case stands with her. Do ’t as from thyself.
 Think what a chance thou changest on, but think
 Thou hast thy mistress still; to boot, my son,
80 Who shall take notice of thee. I’ll move the King
 To any shape of thy preferment such
 As thou ’lt desire; and then myself, I chiefly,
 That set thee on to this desert, am bound
 To load thy merit richly. Call my women.
85 Think on my words.Pisanio exits.
 A sly and constant knave,
 Not to be shaked; the agent for his master
 And the remembrancer of her to hold
 The handfast to her lord. I have given him that
90 Which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her
 Of liegers for her sweet, and which she after,
 Except she bend her humor, shall be assured
 To taste of too.

Enter Pisanio and Ladies carrying flowers.

To the Ladies.  So, so. Well done, well done.
95 The violets, cowslips, and the primroses
 Bear to my closet.—Fare thee well, Pisanio.
 Think on my words.Queen and Ladies exit.
PISANIO And shall do.
 But when to my good lord I prove untrue,
100 I’ll choke myself; there’s all I’ll do for you.
He exits.