Cymbeline

Cymbeline

Pisanio Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Pisanio is Posthumus’ loyal servant. After Cymbeline banishes Posthumus for his secret marriage to Imogen, Pisanio (under Posthumus’ orders) pledges his loyalty to Imogen and promises to serve her faithfully. The Queen and Cloten try to use him in their schemes for power, and Pisanio pretends to go along with their plots in order to protect Imogen. It is through keeping up appearances with the evil characters, then, that Pisanio remains faithful to the deserving, good characters, which demonstrates his complex sense of morality. Pisanio develops a complicated scheme to help Imogen escape the death that her husband ordered, conducting her safely to Millford Haven to avoid Cloten and telling her to disguise herself as a male servant. Pisanio’s efforts show his mental acuity and the lengths to which he goes to ensure the best for his master and mistress. Indeed, he is one of the most loyal characters in the play.

Pisanio Quotes in Cymbeline

The Cymbeline quotes below are all either spoken by Pisanio or refer to Pisanio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Cymbeline published in 2003.
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

How? of adultery? Wherefore write you not
What monster’s her accuser? Leonatus,
O master! what a strange infection
Is fall’n into thy ear! What false Italian,
As poisonous-tongued as handed, hath prevail’d
On thy too ready hearing? Disloyal! No:
She’s punish’d for her truth, and undergoes,
More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults
As would take in some virtue. O my master!
Thy mind to her is now as low as were
Thy fortunes. How! that I should murder her?
Upon the love and truth and vows which I
Have made to thy command? I, her? her blood?
If it be so to do good service, never
Let me be counted serviceable.

Related Characters: Pisanio (speaker), Imogen/Fidele , Posthumus Leonatus
Page Number: 3.2.1-15
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

Why, I must die;
And if I do not by thy hand, thou art
No servant of thy master’s…
Thus may poor fools
Believe false teachers: though those that
are betray’d
Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
Stands in worse case of woe.
And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up
My disobedience ‘gainst the king my father
And make me put into contempt the suits
Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
It is no act of common passage, but
A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself
To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her
That now thou tirest on, how thy memory
Will then be pang’d by me. Prithee, dispatch:
The lamb entreats the butcher: where’s thy knife?
Thou art too slow to do thy master’s bidding,
When I desire it too.

Related Characters: Imogen/Fidele (speaker), Posthumus Leonatus, Pisanio
Page Number: 3.4.80-106
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

You must forget to be a woman; change
Command into obedience: fear and niceness—
The handmaids of all women, or, more truly,
Woman its pretty self—into a waggish courage:
Ready in gibes, quick-answer’d, saucy and
As quarrelous as the weasel; nay, you must
Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek,
Exposing it—but, O, the harder heart!
Alack, no remedy!—to the greedy touch
Of common-kissing Titan, and forget
Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein
You made great Juno angry.

Related Characters: Pisanio (speaker), Imogen/Fidele
Page Number: 3.4.178-189
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

I heard no letter from my master since
I wrote him Imogen was slain: ‘tis strange:
Nor hear I from my mistress who did promise
To yield me often tidings: neither know I
What is betid to Cloten; but remain
Perplex’d in all. The heavens still must work.
Wherein I am false I am honest; not true, to be true.
These present wars shall find I love my country,
Even to the note o’ the king, or I’ll fall in them.
All other doubts, by time let them be clear’d:
Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.

Related Characters: Pisanio (speaker), Cymbeline, Imogen/Fidele , Posthumus Leonatus
Page Number: 4.3.46-56
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Yea, bloody cloth, I’ll keep thee, for I wish’d
Thou shouldst be colour’d thus. You married ones,
If each of you should take this course, how many
Must murder wives much better than themselves
For wrying but a little! O Pisanio!
Every good servant does not all commands:
No bond but to do just ones. Gods! If you
Should have ta’en vengeance on my faults, I never
Had lived to put on this: so had you saved
The noble Imogen to repent, and struck
Me, wretch more worth your vengeance. But, alack,
You snatch some hence for little faults; that’s love,
To have them fall no more: you some permit
To second ills with ills, each elder worse,
And make them dread it, to the doers’ thrift.
But Imogen is your own: do your best wills,
And make me blest to obey!

Related Characters: Posthumus Leonatus (speaker), Imogen/Fidele , Pisanio
Page Number: 5.1.1-17
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Pisanio Character Timeline in Cymbeline

The timeline below shows where the character Pisanio appears in Cymbeline. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Posthumus’ servant Pisanio enters. He reports that Cloten drew his sword on Posthumus, but that no one was... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
At their arranged meeting, Imogen tells Pisanio that she misses her husband already. She asks Pisanio about Posthumus’ last words before sailing... (full context)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Imogen asks when they will hear from Posthumus, and Pisanio assures her that Posthumus will send word as soon as he is on land. She... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Queen’s ladies arrives, and tells Imogen that the Queen wants to see her. Imogen asks Pisanio to do as she has instructed him, and tells the lady she will attend the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
As the Queen assures Cornelius not to worry, she sees Pisanio entering. In an aside, she calls Pisanio a “flattering rascal” and reveals that she plans... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Cornelius leaves on the Queen’s urging. She then asks Pisanio if Imogen is still crying over Posthumus, wondering if, in time, Imogen will get over... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Queen drops the box containing Cornelius’ compound, and Pisanio picks it up. The Queen tells Pisanio that he doesn’t know what he’s holding, but... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Queen asks Pisanio to give Imogen an accurate picture of how bad her situation is with Posthumus in... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Pisanio exits to fetch the Queen’s ladies, and alone onstage, the Queen remarks that Pisanio is... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
Pisanio returns with the Queen’s ladies. She instructs her servants to bring the flowers they’ve gathered... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Imogen sees Pisanio coming in with Iachimo, and asks who the stranger is. Pisanio tells her that Iachimo... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
After reassuring Imogen that he’s fine, Iachimo asks Pisanio to leave and find Iachimo’s servant. Pisanio leaves, saying he was just on his way... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Alarmed, Imogen calls for Pisanio. Iachimo tries to kiss Imogen, but she tells him to go away. She is angry... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
As Cloten reels from Imogen’s comparison, Pisanio arrives, and Imogen asks him to fetch her serving-woman since Cloten is pestering her. She... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Reading a letter from his master, Pisanio feels dismayed by its contents. Posthumus has asserted that Imogen was unfaithful to him, and... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Pisanio can hardly believe that Posthumus is ordering him to kill Imogen, which leaves Pisanio is... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Pisanio hands Posthumus’ second letter to Imogen. She recognizes the handwriting, and asks the gods for... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Imogen finds this a slow speed, and feels impatient to go. She bids Pisanio to have her serving-woman obtain a disguise for her: a riding habit that a simple... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Having arrived at Milford Haven, Imogen asks Pisanio why she doesn’t see Posthumus there. She thinks that Pisanio looks confused and scared, and... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...has proof of her infidelity. He feels grief, but he also thirsts for revenge. Instructing Pisanio to take Imogen to Milford Haven, Posthumus orders him to kill her with his own... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Pisanio tries to interject, but Imogen continues her speech, citing examples of famous men who betrayed... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...her distress with Posthumus, Imogen intends to die according to his order. She takes out Pisanio’s sword, hands it to him, and tells him, “Do thou thy master’s bidding.” Imogen asks... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Pisanio tells Imogen that Posthumus’ command disturbed him so much that he hasn’t slept since receiving... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...back to court, because she doesn’t want to encounter her father or the awful Cloten. Pisanio suggests there is nowhere else in Britain for her. Imogen considers that the world is... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...fearful or sensitive; insult and contradict others; and let the sun tan her fair skin. Pisanio has even brought male clothing with him, and he suggests that Imogen enter into Lucius’... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Pisanio explains that he must return to court to avoid the charge of abducting Imogen. Before... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...to investigate, the Queen orders Cloten to follow him. Before Cloten goes, he says that Pisanio has been missing for the past two days. (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Alone at last, the Queen prays that Pisanio is absent because he swallowed the poison she gave him. She wonders where Imogen went,... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...he admires Imogen’s beauty, but he hates how she disdains him in favor of Posthumus. Pisanio enters, and Cloten demands to know if Imogen is with Posthumus. If Pisanio doesn’t tell... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Cloten asks Pisanio to serve him, saying he will reward Pisanio with status and money. Pisanio agrees, and... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Once Pisanio returns with the clothes, Cloten asks him to bring the outfit to his bedroom, and... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Nobility Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
...vile behavior of courtiers. She says that she’s heartsick and will try the medicine that Pisanio gave her to feel better. She swallows the concoction. (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Imogen curses Pisanio. She’s sure that the servant must have plotted with Cloten to kill Posthumus out of... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
...of madness. Cymbeline wishes Imogen were there to give him comfort. He threatens to torture Pisanio for information about Imogen’s whereabouts, and, under duress, Pisanio says he will faithfully serve the... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
The King and lord leave to prepare for war, and Pisanio addresses the audience. He has not heard from Posthumus since he sent the bloody handkerchief... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Posthumus enters alone, holding a bloody handkerchief—the “proof” that Pisanio followed through with the order to kill Imogen. Posthumus promises to hold onto it because... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Posthumus then addresses Pisanio (who’s not onstage), laying some of the blame on him, since servants should know better... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Cymbeline, Belarius, Guiderius, Arviragus, Pisanio, soldiers and attendants enter with Roman captives. The British captains present Posthumus to Cymbeline. The... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
...a beggarly appearance could be so noble. Cymbeline asks if anyone’s seen that man, but Pisanio says that he vanished without a trace. Cymbeline laments that he can’t reward the man,... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
...back to life. They hang back to watch what Fidele will do and say. Meanwhile, Pisanio expresses his relief that Imogen is alive, still disguised as Fidele. (full context)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
...identity, and that he ordered Imogen’s death. Posthumus thinks he deserves to die for commanding Pisanio to kill Imogen. (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...Posthumus hits her, thinking that she is just a page boy talking out of turn. Pisanio leaps into action, explaining that Fidele is actually Imogen. He revives Imogen as the men... (full context)
Nobility Theme Icon
Pisanio explains how he used one of Posthumus’ letters to send Cloten toward Milford Haven, and... (full context)