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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act III, Scene 6

Enroute to Milford-Haven, Imogen loses her way and arrives before the cave of Belarius. She is hungry and tired but also frightened of what she might find in the cave. So she draws her sword and enters but finds the cave empty. A little later Belarius and the brothers Guiderius and Arviragus enter, with the day's hunt. They are surprised to find Imogen dressed in boy's clothes inside the cave. She gives her name as Fidele. Although Imogen and her brothers do not recognize each other, they feel great love for each other quite spontaneously. She wishes they were her brothers, then her plight would have been different. She tells them that she is bound for Italy to meet a relative, and they make her welcome with their warmth and hospitality.


Notes

In this scene, although unknown to each other, the children of Cymbeline meet: his heir and elder son, Guiderius, the younger Arviragus, and their little sister Imogen, who is disguised as a man. While the sins of the father are visited upon the sons who have suffered privation and a hard life in the mountains, Imogen has had to pay very dearly with the exile of her beloved husband, and later, his misguided accusations. But it is important that they should meet, for it is through them that the theme of reconciliation will be effected. The purity of the brothers is seen in their scorn of money that Imogen offers to them for the food. This is in dire contrast to Cloten who interprets everyone's worth in terms of economic value.

This short scene with its idyllic simplicity and charm conveys fine sentiments and emotions, subdued though they are. Imogen's disguise as a boy adds particular interest to the action. The dramatist crowns his descriptive power when he makes world- weary Belaruis describe Imogen, ecstatically. He unexpectedly sees her feasting upon the stored victuals in their cave and is so struck by her appearance that he wonders whether she is an earthly angel. It is ironic that they all wish that they were brothers and the distressed Imogen is somewhat alleviated in her pain by her brothers' good will. They help steer the delicate course between comedy and tragedy that the story of the play demands.

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