Friday, November 15, 2013

Shakespeare's Cymbeline

Cymbeline. William Shakespeare. circa 1611. [Source: Bought]

This was my first time to read Cymbeline. Overall, I liked it. I was able to follow the story, something that is always a bit of concern when exploring Shakespeare on my own. I enjoyed the setting--ancient Britain in the days of conflict with the Roman empire.

Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, is secretly married to Posthumus Leonatus, a Roman soldier. Their marital happiness faces many threats. One unnecessary threat is from one of Leonatus' boasting friends, a certain Iachimo, who boasts he can get Imogen into his bed. It's a wager between the two to see if his wife will be faithful or not. If Iachimo was an honest gentleman to begin with, he wouldn't be boasting or making bets about a woman's virtue and reputation. So you can guarantee Iachimo is NOT honest and won't play fair. In other words, he'll say what he wants even if it is lies through and through. Iachimo brings back his "evidence" and Leonatus drastically orders one of his men to kill his wife. Fortunately, Pisanio, is a good man. He helps Imogen instead of harming her.

Here is where the play gets very messy and oh-so-complicated. I will not try to summarize everything! But Shakespeare presents a tangled affair only to untangle it rather nicely. There are villains--obvious and not so obvious. There is an invading army and a few action-packed battles. Mistaken identities, secrets, and disguises abound. There is even a fake death...

I liked this one. I would have to reread it again to see how it works as a whole. The first time through I was too concerned with what would happen next to think about the mechanics of it.

 "Thither write, my queen, and with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send, though ink be made of gall." (Posthumus to his wife, Imogen)
Cloten: Britain is a world by itself, and we will nothing pay for wearing our own noses.
Belarius: The gates of monarchs are arch'd so high that giants may jet through and keep their impious turbans on without good morrow to the sun. 
Pisanio: The paper hath cut her throat already. No, '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.
 Imogen: Men's vows are women's traitors!
 Imogen: Society is no comfort to one not sociable. 
Imogen: Our very eyes are sometimes, like our judgments, blind.
Imogen: The dream's here still. Even when I wake it is without me, as within me; not imagin'd felt.
Jupiter: Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift, the more delay'd, delighted.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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