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MonkeyNotes-Cymbeline by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 2

On the battlefield, there is fierce fighting between the Romans and the British, with Posthumus in disguise. In a skirmish with Iachimo, Posthumus is able to defeat and disarm the former, but leaves him alive. Iachimo feels the burden of guilt and remorse at the way he has wronged a British princess and feels that his guilt has left him so weak that a peasant could overpower him. On the other hand, he also claims that if the rest of the British army were equal to, or better than this rough peasant, then "the odds / Is that we scarce are men and you are gods."

As the battle continues, the British army is almost routed, and Cymbeline is taken prisoner. All seems lost when suddenly Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus and Posthumus in disguise, enter. They fight bravely and rescue Cymbeline. After they leave, Lucius, attended by Imogen in boys' clothes, enters with Iachimo. Lucius advises Fidele to save herself, as she is known to run away from the battlefield. Lucius is surprised at the way the fortunes of the British have turned, and advises Iachimo to get reinforcements for a fresh attack, failing which they would have to flee.


Notes

The scene begins with Iachimo expressing his dismay at having belied Imogen's reputation and creating such animosity between her and her husband. His expression of remorse follows on the heels of Posthumus' own confession of guilt and so it is not surprising that they end up in a skirmish, fighting it out. Although Iachimo is unaware of the peasant he is fighting against, he complains that fighting him is difficult and that it must be due to the weight of what he has done and his weakened state of mind. The combat ends in the defeat of Iachimo, but he is not killed since he is needed for the denouement. His soliloquy, however, prepares the audience to meet him later as a repentant villain.

The next encounter reveals that the Romans have captured Cymbeline but that his sons and Posthumus have managed to free him. The scene ends with a short exchange between Lucius and Iachimo commenting on the strange turn of events. Most of this scene provides information that will forward the plot and allow for a reconciliation.

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