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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 2

Imogen is lying in bed, reading. In one corner of the room is placed the trunk that Iachimo has requested her to keep for the night. As the scene opens, Imogen bids her lady attendant to put away the book she has been reading, as it is nearly midnight. However, she asks the woman to leave the taper burning while she sleeps. A short while later, Iachimo comes from the trunk. After ascertaining that Imogen is indeed asleep, he proceeds to make note of her bedchamber, the pictures on the wall, the placement of the window, the book she was reading, and so on. To add greater conviction to his account, he makes notes of her bodily features, and in particular notes a small mole on her left breast that is exposed as she sleeps. Iachimo is moved by lust but does not molest Imogen for he knows that he will not succeed. However, he is sure that this single detail will be enough to convince Posthumus that he has succeeded in seducing her. He carefully slips off the bracelet that Posthumus has given her, and gets back into the trunk before Imogen awakens.


Notes

The twists and turns of the plot are carried further in this somewhat farcical scene. Using an old trick, Iachimo remains hidden in the trunk that he sends to Imogen for safe-keeping. At night, while she sleeps, he emerges to take note of details that will help him to deceive Posthumus of his wife's faithfulness. Iachimo's lust and fantasies regarding Imogen are clearly expressed:

"Our Tarquin thus Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd The chastity he wounded."

The reference is to The Rape of Lucrece, the seduction of a good and chaste woman such as Imogen herself. Iachimo longs to touch and steal "one kiss" but he does not dare. He knows only too well that Imogen is too pure and chaste and will resist him. Her purity, although threatened by his lust, is not overrun or contaminated. Iachimo thus has to resort to trickery to convince Posthumus that he had succeeded in seducing Imogen. Although Iachimo is resorting to deception in order to win his bet, he is also deeply in love with Imogen and realizes her purity and fidelity unlike her husband who will soon respond to Iachimo's evidence with unduly criticism of her. Iachimo can be seen as an external invader as he rummages around Imogen's room, stealing her valuables and observing her sleeping.

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