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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act III, Scene 3

From a cave in the mountainous Welsh countryside enters Belarius followed by his sons Guiderius and Arviragus. It is a fine morning, and Belarius exhorts his sons not to sit inside the cave, but to enjoy the wonderful weather. They plan to go hunting as usual with the brothers climbing the hill while Belarius tries to track game on the plain. He tells his sons that their simple life is worth all the advantages of courtly life, where every moment one could expect to be snubbed. Life at court was like living on a slippery slope, remarks Belarius bitterly, for it is precisely when one is at the peak of one's success that one is in danger of falling.

The two lads, Guiderius and Arviragus, are restive. They have known nothing of court life, and cannot say if the peaceful life they lead is better than anything else. However, Belarius tells them that if they only knew the treacherous life at court, they would agree with him that the life they lead now is the best. He recounts his tenure in Cymbeline's court, when the King loved and respected him as a brave and valiant soldier. However, the King had readily listened to the false testimony of two villains who alleged that Belarius was consorting with the Romans. Cymbeline had not even given Belarius the chance to explain, and had banished him. It is only when the boys leave that Belarius reveals in a soliloquy, that Guiderius, known as Polydore, and Arviragus, called Cadwal, are actually the sons of Cymbeline. Angered at his unjust banishment, he had stolen the infant sons of the King in order to bar the line of succession to the throne. Yet, as Belarius observes, blood will tell: the lads who had known nothing of court, have the bearing and thoughts of princes.


Notes

The scene now shifts to distant mountains in Wales and another part of the plot emerges as the reader is introduced to three new characters. This is a welcome relief from the oppressive atmosphere of the court. The whole scene is devoted to introduce Belarius, the banished lord who now lives as a "woodman" assuming the name of Morgan. The two princely youths, the abducted sons of Cymbeline, are seen here out of their natural setting. Their princely instinct is at variance with the crude conditions around them. Their restlessness reveals that they were not meant for the pastoral life and their ambitions are for something greater although their innocence is sharply contrasted to Cloten, who is product of the corruption of the courts.

Cymbeline's sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, which are their original names, have been renamed Polydore and Cadwall by Belarius. It is their nurse, Euriphile, who had managed the kidnapping of the princes and as her reward, Belarius married her. The boys were too young (when they were stolen) to remember their real parentage and so they look upon Belarius and Euriphile as their parents. Their simple life, far from the madding crowds' ignoble strife, passes unmolested in their mountain cave for twenty years. During this period, Belarius trains and educates the princes so well as to render them worthy of a high station in life. Their separation from the royal family is another instance of the court being disrupted and that the sons will eventually reunite with their biological family hints at a resolution of the political and emotional conflicts that now disrupt the court.

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