Cymbeline | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Cymbeline Study Guide." April 2, 2018. Accessed June 21, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Cymbeline/.

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Cymbeline | Act 2, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

In her bedroom at night, Imogen has been reading. She speaks to one of her ladies—Helen—then falls asleep. Iachimo emerges from his trunk, takes some notes about the appearance of the room, and steals the bracelet Posthumus had given her when they parted. He also notices a mole on Imogen's breast. Iachimo expects these proofs will convince Posthumus that Imogen has been unfaithful with Iachimo. Confident of his win, he hides in the trunk again.

Analysis

The previous scene ended as the second lord offered a prayer to the gods for the "divine" Imogen, and this scene opens with Imogen's own prayers. After she falls asleep, Iachimo slowly steals out of the trunk and into her bedchamber. Although Iachimo does not rape Imogen, the symbolic violation is clear, and the threat of rape overshadows this scene. Iachimo himself acknowledges this when he alludes to Tarquin, or Sextus Tarquinius, a Roman prince whose rape of the noblewoman Lucretia is part of Roman literature. And Imogen's book is the myth of Tereus, the king of Thrace who raped his sister-in-law Philomela.

But despite the sinister references, Iachimo only violates the intimate space of her bedroom. Instead, he gathers "proof" of her willing participation in sex. Among the proofs is the bracelet Posthumus gave Imogen as a symbol of his love for her. By stealing the bracelet, Iachimo symbolically steals Posthumus's love for Imogen.

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