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Summary Act 2


As before, Lord #1 assures Cloten that Cloten can do no wrong, while Lord #2 disparages Cloten with remarks off to the side. Apparently, Cloten has struck a fellow who had taken Cloten to task for swearing and cursing when Cloten had lost in a game of bowls. The fellow, cognizant of who Cloten’s mother was (the Queen of Britain), did not dare to strike back. Cloten is thus boasting of having struck a nobody who refused to fight back and complaining for having lost his bet in a game of bowls when Lord #1 informs Cloten that a friend of Posthumus has recently arrived from Italy. Cloten debates whether to meet the Italian, after all he is Posthumus’ associate and is therefore his--Cloten's--social inferior, but decides to do so with the hope of winning a wager from the Italian and thereby recouping his loss that he had sustained in bowls.


Having told her lady in waiting to awake her if she oversleeps, Imogen goes to bed. She is asleep when Jachimo emerges from the trunk--the trunk containing the supposed treasures that Jachimo had asked Imogen to safeguard for the night. Jachimo inventories Imogen’s bedroom, taking note of things in writing. He approaches Imogen. He removes her bracelet (the one Posthumus had given her) which he‘ll use to his advantage. He notices a mole on her left breast, thinks about writing it down, but realizes he won’t have to what with it’s distinctiveness--cinque spotted like the crimson drops in the bottom of a cowslip--forever searing in his memory. As dawn approaches, Jachimo hides himself in the trunk again. His devious plan has worked like a charm.


Cloten has stayed up all night playing dice only to lose more money. Realizing that he can get filthy rich if he were to get married to Imogen, he dicides to be the first to greet her in the morning. He has musicians serenade her. Presently, he is met by Cymbeline and the Queen. When Cloten informs them that he is trying to endear himself to Imogen, the King advises him to be patient, that his daughter hasn’t yet gotten over Posthumus and that when she has that she will be all his. The Queen advises him to be persistent, to never take no for an answer. As he is informed that ambassadors have arrived from Rome, the King orders Cloten to report to his duty (which will require Cloten to attend to the Roman ambassador) as soon as Cloten has finished greeting Imogen.

By and by, Cloten manges to have a word with Imogen who reminds him that she has no feelings for him whatsoever except hatred and contempt. Cloten reminds her of her royal status, saying how it would wholly unbecoming of her to be wedded to Posthumus who is nothing but a lowly servant. Taking exception, Imogen argues that Posthumus is superior to Cloten in every way and that she would prefer Posthumus’ meanest garment to Cloten’s richest array. Cloten objects but to no avail; he goes away, sulking and promising revenge. Meanwhile, Imogen orders Pisanio to go and tell Dorothy, a waiting woman, of Imogen’s missing braclet, to spare no effort in finding it as it had been given her by Posthumus and for which she would not exchange for the world.


Posthumus and Philario are discussing the political ramifications of Cauis Lucius’ ambassadorial visit to Britain when Jachimo returns. Posthumus attributes Jachimo’s quick return to the futility that he must surely have felt when he had tried to seduce Imogen. Jachimo begs to differ, however, and begins to describe Imogen’s room in detail. He begins with the tapestries, goes on to the chimney-piece, then to the picture on the roof and the form of the andirons--all for naught. Posthumus argues that though these descriptions are accurate that they could have been gleaned by hearsay. However, when Jachimo produces Imogen‘s bracelet, everything changes. Having confirmed that the bracelet is indeed the one he gave Imogen, Posthumus hands Jachimo the bracelet as well as his gold ring which ring had been given him by Imogen, proclaiming the vows of women to be worthless. Philario begs Posthumus not to concede so easily, arguing that the bracelet might have been lost or stolen. For a moment, Posthumus is persuaded by Philario, but when Jachimo describes the mole on Imogen’s breast, in addition to swearing that he had neither stolen or found the bracelet, Posthumus is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Imogen has been unfaithful. He would like nothing better than to be able to rip her apart limb from limb.


Alone, Posthumus concludes that everyone is a bastard because every woman is unfaithful to her husband.  

William Shakespeare