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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 5

The scene is set in Cymbeline's tent. Cymbeline enters along with Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus and Pisanio. He knights Belarius and the two young men for their services in battle, and is upset that they are unable to trace the fourth man, who was Posthumus in disguise, to honour him him as well.

The physician Cornelius enters with bad news: the Queen is dead. Although Cymbeline is aggrieved, he is astounded at what the physician reveals to him. On her death-bed, mad with grief at the loss of her son, she had confessed that she had never loved the King and in fact had planned to kill him; she also revealed her hatred of the noble Imogen and how she had contrived to kill her. Cymbeline is shocked beyond measure, and now feels regret for the harsh way he had treated his daughter under the Queen's influence.

The Roman general, Lucius, enters with his page Fidele, Iachimo, and the Soothsayer, under heavy guard. Behind them is brought Posthumus with guards. Cymbeline is triumphant and is ready to seek retribution for the loss of British lives. Lucius tells Cymbeline that if the battle had gone their way, they would have been more gracious in victory and not put their prisoners to the sword. He also reminds Cymbeline that to do so would only serve to bring Caesar's wrath upon himself. Lucius then pleads for the life of Fidele, his page, who is a Briton. Cymbeline finds Fidele's face familiar, and takes a liking to the 'boy', not realizing that it is Imogen.


Contrary to Lucius's expectations, Imogen does not request Cymbeline to spare her master's life, but requests a moment alone with him. While she is speaking to Cymbeline, Belarius and the brothers wonder if it is the same person whom they had buried. Imogen then publicly asks of Iachimo how he had obtained the ring on his finger. After initial reluctance, Iachimo reveals, with regret, the base way in which he had tricked Posthumus into believing that he had managed to seduce Imogen. On hearing this, Posthumus erupts in anger and attacks Iachimo while lamenting that by ordering her death, he was guilty of nothing short of murder. When Imogen, in disguise, tries to stop him, he knocks her to the ground, little realizing her identity. However, Pisanio, who has by now recognized them both, reveals everything. Imogen revives, and noticing Pisanio, curses him for trying to poison her. Cymbeline is astonished, Pisanio affirms his innocence, and it falls to Cornelius the physician to reveal the secret of the potion that he had supplied to the Queen, which brought a death-like sleep. Now the mystery of Fidele's 'death' is solved.

Pisanio reveals that Cloten, whose absence had led to the Queen's death, had pursued Imogen to Milford-Haven, dressed in Posthumus's clothes and vowing to dishonor Imogen. Guiderius then reveals that he had killed Cloten. When Cymbeline angrily decides to sentence the young man to death, Belarius intervenes to reveal the truth about the boys: they are the sons of Cymbeline lost in infancy. He blames Cymbeline, whose banishment of Belarius led to this situation, but is glad to present such fine boys to the King whose joy knows no bounds. He had lost all his children, and now he has them back. When proof has been produced in the form of a mole on Guiderius's neck and a mantle that had been wrapped round Arviragus, Cymbeline expresses his utmost happiness. He is curious to know of the various events in Imogen's life since she had left the court, but he knows that this is neither the time nor the place for such questions. Posthumus then reveals that he is the unknown soldier who fought along with Belarius and the others.

Filled with joy, and having regained his family, Cymbeline is in a mood of forgiveness and reconciliation. He decides to let the captives go, for "pardon's the word to all." Iachimo, overcome by remorse, asks forgiveness of Posthumus who is gracious enough to do so. Now the old Soothsayer interprets the parchment, explaining that when Posthumus is reunited with Imogen whom he had believed to be lost, and when Cymbeline "the lofty cedar" was reunited with his long-lost sons, then peace and plenty would reign in Britain. Cymbeline, touched by the peace and joy of restoration, now agrees (although he is the victor), to pay the Roman the tribute for which he had been dissuaded by the Queen. A great Roman-British pax is proclaimed, ratified with ceremonies and feasts in Lud's town (London).

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