William Shakespeare

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Cymbeline makes teaching easy.

Cymbeline: Act 4, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Back in Britain, Cloten has reached Wales, near the spot where Imogen and Posthumus were supposed to meet, according to Pisanio. Alone, Cloten rages against Imogen’s choice of Posthumus over him, because he’s just as good if not better than Posthumus. Cloten is just as handsome and young—plus he’s stronger, richer, and more noble. Posthumus envisions the rape and murder he has planned. He reasons that his mother will protect him from the King once he has raped Imogen and sent her back to court; the Queen holds all power over Cymbeline. Cloten resolves to draw his sword and find Posthumus. He prays that fortune will deliver Posthumus and Imogen to him so that he can execute his “sore purpose.”
In his self-assessment, Cloten mistakes his higher rank than Posthumus for greater nobility. Social status does not necessarily guarantee a better disposition. In typical fashion, Cloten overestimates himself, though the Second Lord isn’t here to check his words with asides to the audience. As before, the power of imagination in Cymbeline is evocative here. Just as imagining Imogen’s infidelity drove Posthumus over the edge, imagining the rape and murder spurs Cloten to seek out his victims.
Nobility Theme Icon