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Cymbeline
Act 2, scene 2

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Entire Play

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 2
A trunk is brought in. Enter Imogen, reading, in her
bed, and a Lady.


IMOGEN 
 Who’s there? My woman Helen?
LADY  Please you, madam.
IMOGEN 
 What hour is it?
LADY  Almost midnight, madam.
IMOGEN 
5 I have read three hours then. Mine eyes are weak.
She hands the Lady her book.
 Fold down the leaf where I have left. To bed.
 Take not away the taper; leave it burning.
 And if thou canst awake by four o’ th’ clock,
 I prithee, call me. (Lady exits.) Sleep hath seized
10 me wholly.
 To your protection I commend me, gods.
 From fairies and the tempters of the night
 Guard me, beseech you.Sleeps.

Iachimo from the trunk.

IACHIMO 
 The crickets sing, and man’s o’erlabored sense
15 Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus

69
Cymbeline
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Did softly press the rushes ere he wakened
 The chastity he wounded.—Cytherea,
 How bravely thou becom’st thy bed, fresh lily,
 And whiter than the sheets.—That I might touch!
20 But kiss, one kiss! Rubies unparagoned,
 How dearly they do ’t. ’Tis her breathing that
 Perfumes the chamber thus. The flame o’ th’ taper
 Bows toward her and would underpeep her lids
 To see th’ enclosèd lights, now canopied
25 Under these windows, white and azure-laced
 With blue of heaven’s own tinct. But my design:
 To note the chamber. I will write all down.
He begins to write.
 Such and such pictures; there the window; such
 Th’ adornment of her bed; the arras, figures,
30 Why, such and such; and the contents o’ th’ story.
He continues to write.
 Ah, but some natural notes about her body
 Above ten thousand meaner movables
 Would testify t’ enrich mine inventory.
 O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her,
35 And be her sense but as a monument
 Thus in a chapel lying. (He begins to remove her
 bracelet.) 
Come off, come off;
 As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard.
 ’Tis mine, and this will witness outwardly
40 As strongly as the conscience does within
 To th’ madding of her lord. On her left breast
 A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops
 I’ th’ bottom of a cowslip. Here’s a voucher
 Stronger than ever law could make. This secret
45 Will force him think I have picked the lock and ta’en
 The treasure of her honor. No more. To what end?
 Why should I write this down that’s riveted,
 Screwed to my memory? She hath been reading late

71
Cymbeline
ACT 2. SC. 3

 The tale of Tereus; here the leaf’s turned down
50 Where Philomel gave up. I have enough.
 To th’ trunk again, and shut the spring of it.
 Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning
 May bare the raven’s eye. I lodge in fear.
 Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.
Clock strikes.
55 One, two, three. Time, time!
He exits into the trunk. The trunk
and bed are removed.