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IMAGERY and SYMBOLISM
Shakespeare has an efficient way with words, a fondness for concise visual analogies and an ability to compress large ideas in a few words. He does this mainly through figurative language, similes and metaphors. The very first lines of the play include the word "bloods." Shakespeare uses the word "bloods" to mean royals, revealing that it is within the royal family that all source of life springs and if the family does not fare well neither does Britain. The first lines of the play express the disorder that reigns in the kingdom and the effects it has on how the kingdom is ruled.
In Cymbeline aural and visual imagery is used to convey mood changes as well as setting. Musical interludes allay the tragic atmosphere of the play and often provide comedy as when Cloten serenades his love with music in Act II, Scene 3 as he thinks this is the way to seduce someone although his lyrics make the moment sordid rather than romantic. Then there is the song the brothers sing to their supposedly dead friend, Fidele that is a moving eulogy and utilizes much natural imagery to convey a sense of loss and melancholy. Also, Posthumus' vision is laced with powerful aural images of thunder and bells clanging to create an otherworldly feel and the missive left him by Jupiter is written in dense vibrant language that is enigmatic and supernal. It must be interpreted by a soothsayer, someone who is more in touch with the world beyond than an ordinary human. The natural world is used for much of the symbolism in the play as when Cymbeline is represented as a cedar and likened to the sun. Both tree and sun are important symbols to describe Imogen who is also described as the phoenix enthroned on a tree in Heliopolis, the city of the sun.
It went o' th' backside the town." What Shakespeare means to say here is that like a debtor, Cloten's sword took a back road, another example of the imagery of commerce that pervades the play
THE FAIRY TALE ELEMENT
The play has echoes of fairy tales that enhance its fantastical qualities. In unkempt Wales, Imogen is like Snow White living among hardy but likable creatures and is mildly poisoned by her stepmother. Guiderius is like Jack the Giant - Killer when he kills the oaf-like, Cloten. As they lay out what they consider to be dead bodies - Imogen and Cloten - in preparation for burial, one is reminded fleetingly of another fairy tale entitled "Babes in the Wood." Also some of the allegorical qualities that are found in fairy tales can be applied to this play. That Imogen is pure and fair yet treated unfairly can correspond to any number of fairy tales from Cinderella to Snow White.