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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act III, Scene 5

The scene shifts once again to the palace of Cymbeline where King Cymbeline, the Queen, Cloten, and attendants enter along with Lucius, the Roman messenger. Cymbeline treats Lucius with great courtesy and warmth even as he reiterates his decision not to pay the tribute to Caesar. He vouchsafes a safe journey to Milford- Haven for Lucius who has to cross the River Severn before proceeding to Italy. As usual, Cloten behaves in an insolent manner and refuses to shake Lucius' hand as he takes his leave.

Cymbeline is aware of the political consequences of refusing to pay the tribute but he is prepared to face war. He also knows that there is no time to lose, for the Roman forces stationed in Gallia will be landing in Britain soon and he orders that his soldiers be kept in readiness. It suddenly occurs to Cymbeline that he has not seen Imogen for two days and he sends an attendant to summon her. The Queen, meanwhile, advises caution in speaking to Imogen. The attendant rushes back to report that Imogen's chambers are locked. The Queen then remembers that she had been informed that Imogen was ill but had forgotten to inform the King. Cymbeline immediately fears that his daughter has fled, and rushes to out to see for himself. Cloten observes that he has not seen Pisanio for two days either; the Queen sends him after the King to make sure he is all right. In an informative aside, she reveals her joy at the turn of events, for with Imogen gone, she could claim the throne for herself.


Cloten returns with the news that Imogen has indeed fled. He asks the Queen to go and take care of Cymbeline who is in a fit of rage. The Queen, in an aside, hopes that the sorrow of losing Imogen will kill Cymbeline, but she goes to console him. Cloten, in a soliloquy, reveals his feeling for Imogen whom he loves dearly for her beauty and her fine qualities, but hates for spurning him and favoring Posthumus. He vows to revenge himself on her. Just then Pisanio enters and Cloten threatens to kill him if he does not reveal Imogen's whereabouts. Pressed by Cloten, Pisanio hands over a letter supposedly written by Posthumus, asking Imogen to meet him at Milford-Haven. Cloten is agitated and bids Pisanio to get him some garments of Posthumus, thinking of the comment Imogen made about Posthumus' clothing. With this in mind, he plans to kill Posthumus, and then wearing his clothes, contrives to ravage Imogen. Pisanio, who is under the impression that Imogen will soon be on her way to Italy, is not unduly worried at Cloten's plans, for he thinks she will be gone before the foolish suitor reaches her.

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