Cymbeline | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Cymbeline Study Guide." Course Hero. 2 Apr. 2018. Web. 24 June 2021. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, April 2). Cymbeline Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 24, 2021, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Cymbeline Study Guide." April 2, 2018. Accessed June 24, 2021.


Course Hero, "Cymbeline Study Guide," April 2, 2018, accessed June 24, 2021,

Cymbeline | Motifs



Clothing is used by Imogen, Posthumus, and Cloten to hide their true identity, and as such they support the theme of appearance versus reality. Imogen is not a man, but she must appear to be one in order to avoid death. Cloten dresses as Posthumus in order to go unnoticed about the country while looking for Imogen. When he is beheaded, his clothed and headless body convinces Imogen her husband is dead. Posthumus dresses as a Briton peasant in order to fight unnoticed on the side of Britain, and in this disguise he vanquishes Iachimo in a fight.


Shakespeare often uses letters in his plays to create suspense, drama, or comedic situations. Letters are a convenient plot device since they may contain truth or lies, they take time to deliver, and they often go astray or remain undelivered. In this play, letters play more than a simple plot role. They also support its main themes. They support the theme of appearance versus reality because they are so often used to misrepresent reality. For example, of the two letters Posthumus sends to Pisanio, one contains a truth (Posthumus wants Pisanio to kill Imogen) while the other contains a lie meant to give a false appearance (everything is fine, and Posthumus wants to secretly meet Imogen). These two letters also help to develop the theme of trust and betrayal because they create a terrible predicament for loyal and trustworthy Pisanio. If he does what his master trusts him to do, he will be betraying the trust of Imogen, whom he knows to be innocent.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Cymbeline? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!