Cymbeline | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Cymbeline | Act 2, Scene 5 | Summary



In a long soliloquy, delivered while he is alone onstage, Posthumus is undone by his sense of betrayal and has some harsh words for Imogen and women in general. He blames women for the evils of the world and vows vengeance on Imogen for her infidelity.


Posthumus ends the act with a long rant about Imogen, and by extension, all women. He attributes to women all the vices in the world: lying, flattering, deceiving, lust, ambitions, covetings, and so on. Since he had stated Imogen's virtue and beauty were beyond all other women's, so her betrayal means women generally are the source of all sin in the world. Even those bad parts of a man are somehow attributable to women: "there's no motion / That tends to vice in man but I affirm / It is the woman's part." The parallel between Posthumus and Othello is quite dramatic here, as Posthumus's thought process mimics Othello's after he is convinced of Desdemona's infidelity by a series of carefully orchestrated "proofs."

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