Study Guide

Cymbeline

by William Shakespeare

Cymbeline Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Cymbeline

Cymbeline (SIHM-beh-leen), the king of Britain. On the whole, he is more a conventional figure made to help the plot than a complex human being. Quick-tempered, arbitrary, and unreasonable, he is naturally well-meaning and generous. His second wife influences him far more than he realizes. His forgiveness of his enemies and his son-in-law at the end of the play is an example of his essential goodness.

Imogen

Imogen (IHM-oh-jehn), Cymbeline’s daughter by his former queen; she is disguised for part of the play as Fidele (fih-DAYL), a boy. She is the most admired character in the play, and many critics believe it has small excuse for being except as a vehicle for her. She is a faithful wife, independent and courageous. She escapes her father’s court, her husband’s plot to have her murdered, her wicked stepbrother’s attempt to violate her, and her evil stepmother’s plot to poison her. Disguised as a boy, she finds her unknown brothers in the forest. She forgives her husband for his lack of trust.

Posthumus Leonatus

Posthumus Leonatus (POS-tew-muhs lee-oh-NAY-tuhs), Imogen’s husband, a gentleman of good lineage but poor fortune; he is unacceptable to Cymbeline as a son-in-law. Banished for marrying Imogen, he goes to Italy. There, carried away while praising his wife, he makes an unwise wager with the evil Iachimo that his wife’s chastity will withstand any temptation. She lives up to his faith, but Iachimo presents such strong circumstantial evidence that she has been unfaithful that Posthumus sends orders to his servant to kill her. He receives undeserved forgiveness from her and is reunited with her.

Cloten

Cloten (KLOH-tehn), the queen’s repulsive son. Ignorant and stupid as well as vicious, he clothes himself in Leonatus’ garments and follows Imogen, intending to violate her. He meets and threatens Guiderius, who promptly chops off his head. Finding his headless corpse in the familiar garments, Imogen...

(The entire section is 906 words.)

Cymbeline Character Analysis

Cymbeline

Cymbeline is the king of England. Imogen is his daughter by a former marriage, as are his two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, who were...

(The entire section is 599 words.)

Imogen

Imogen is the daughter of Cymbeline by a former marriage. She marries Posthumus, but the queen, Cymbeline's present wife, does not approve of...

(The entire section is 457 words.)

Leonatus (Posthumus Leonatus)

Posthumus is the husband of Imogen. His marriage to her displeases Cymbeline, and he is banished from England. He goes to Italy to stay at...

(The entire section is 675 words.)

Other Characters

Apparitions
These are the ghosts of Posthumus's father, mother, and two brothers. They appear to Posthumus in a dream while he...

(The entire section is 3927 words.)