Monday, November 16, 2009

School Book: Cymbeline

We're almost at the end of the term, and Cymbeline is the second-last play I have to read for my Shakespeare course.

Cymbeline is the king of Briton during the reign of Augustus in Rome. He has refused to pay the tribute to Rome, and so Rome declares war on Briton. This, however, is the background story to the play. It is part of the main plot, but only moves to the foreground about half-way through the story. The real tale is about Princess Imogen and her husband, Posthumus Leonatus. Posthumus is exiled from Briton and Imogen, and so he goes to Rome. While there, a Roman, Iachimo, bets that Imogen will no be true. Cheating to win the bet, Iachimo convinces Posthumus that Imogen has been unfaithful, and so Posthumus sends word to one of his servants to kill Imogen.

The servant knows that Imogen has been true to Posthumus, so he devises a plan: she is to disguise herself as a man and flee to Italy. Hilarious hijinks occur in the woods, some of which reminded me of As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet, although the latter with a happier ending. I was never sure how Cymbeline would end, which kept me entertained through the whole play. From kings, knaves and Jupiter himself showing up, Cymbeline is a highly entertaining read!