Cymbeline is, of course, the heavy-handed father/king (all such tales have to have one, or something similar). Note the “heavy” excess of his opening lines–“basest thing” “avoid” “unworthiness,” “poison.” The broad verbal brush strokes indicate the stereotype. Postumus naturally beats a swift retreat (as, of course, he must for plot necessity). Then follows a daughter/father scene that has undertones of King Lear. Imogen possesses the innocent qualities of Cordelia and like her pleads with her father, simultaneously displaying the same kind of good sense and bravery that Cordelia does in the face of mindless authority. Cymbeline wanted her to marry his step-son (Cloten); Imogen remarks tellingly: “I chose an eagle / And did avoid a puttock” (a hint of forthcoming imagery, and a clue as to Cloten’s character and how he should be played). Naturally, Imogen’s observation does nothing to assuage Cymbeline who, true to fairy tale “lore” orders Imogen to be locked up: “let her languish / A drop of blood a day and, being aged, /Die of this folly.” In connection with this, note the Queen’s insincere’s protestations. The scene ends with the arrival of Posthumus’s servant, Pisano, a crucial element in the plot (and every hero needs a faithful, knowledgeable servant at hand). His noteworthy news is that Cloten drew his sword on Posthumus “But that my master rather played than fought / And had no help of anger.” Clearly Cloten is not much of anything, certainly in comparison with Posthumus.
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