Cymbeline

The Queen Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
The nameless Queen is Cymbeline’s second wife and the mother of Cloten. She is a master of manipulation who has bad intentions. These are clearly evident in her desire to learn about poison—the court doctor Cornelius even expresses his fear that the Queen’s experimenting with poison by killing small animals reflects her hardness of heart. Despite her apparent wickedness, the Queen tries to conceal her evil. For instance, she tells Imogen that she will help her, but secretly tries to marry Imogen to Cloten in order to secure her own proximity to the crown. She also manipulates Cymbeline into asserting independence from Rome and tries to poison Pisanio. After Cloten’s disappearance, however, the Queen goes mad with grief. She makes a deathbed confession of her crimes, including her hatred for her husband. As such, this evil character’s story ends on a note of repentance.

The Queen Quotes in Cymbeline

The Cymbeline quotes below are all either spoken by The Queen or refer to The Queen. 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 1, Scene 1 Quotes

No, be assured you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most stepmothers,
Evil-eyed unto you: you’re my prisoner, but
Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys
That lock up your restraint.

Related Characters: The Queen (speaker), Imogen/Fidele
Page Number: 1.1.82-86
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 1, Scene 5 Quotes

[Aside] I do not like her. She doth think she has
Strange lingering poisons: I do know her spirit,
And will not trust one of her malice with
A drug of such damn’d nature. Those she has
Will stupefy and dull the sense awhile;
Which first, perchance, she’ll prove on cats and dogs,
Then afterward up higher: but there is
No danger in what show of death it makes,
More than the locking-up the spirits a time,
To be more fresh, reviving. She is fool’d
With a most false effect; and I the truer,
So to be false with her.

Related Characters: Cornelius (speaker), The Queen
Page Number: 1.5.43-55
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

That such a crafty devil as is his mother
Should yield the world this ass! a woman that
Bears all down with her brain; and this her son
Cannot take two from twenty, for his heart
And leave eighteen. Alas, poor princess,
Thou divine Imogen, what thou endurest,
Betwixt a father by thy step-dame govern’d,
A mother hourly coining plots, a wooer
More hateful than the foul expulsion is
Of thy dear husband, than that horrid act
Of the divorce he’ld make! The heavens hold firm
The walls of thy dear honour, keep unshaked
That temple, thy fair mind, that thou mayst stand,
To enjoy thy banish’d lord and this great land!

Related Characters: The Second Lord (speaker), Imogen/Fidele , The Queen, Cloten
Page Number: 2.1.54-67
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

…Remember, sir, my liege,
The kings your ancestors, together with
The natural bravery of your isle, which stands
As Neptune’s park, ribbed and paled in
With rocks unscalable and roaring waters,
With sands that will not bear your enemies’ boats,
But suck them up to the topmast. A kind of conquest
Caesar made here; but made not here his brag
Of ‘Came’ and ‘saw’ and ‘overcame:’ with shame—
That first that ever touch’d him—he was carried
From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping—
Poor ignorant baubles!—upon our terrible seas,
Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, crack’d
As easily ‘gainst our rocks: for joy wherof
The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point—
O giglot fortune!—to master Caesar’s sword,
Made Lud’s town with rejoicing fires bright
And Britons strut with courage.

Related Characters: The Queen (speaker), Cymbeline
Page Number: 3.1.25-36
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

CORNELIUS
…She did confess she had
For you a mortal mineral; which, being took,
Should by the minute feed on life and lingering
By inches waste you: in which time she purposed,
By watching, weeping, tendance, kissing, to
O’ercome you with her show, and in time,
When she had fitted you with her craft, to work
Her son into the adoption of the crown:
But, failing of her end by his strange absence,
Grew shameless-desperate; open’d, in despite
Of heaven and men, her purposes; repented
The evils she hatch’d were not effected; so
Despairing died…

CYMBELINE
Mine eyes
Were not in fault, for she was beautiful;
Mine ears, that heard her flattery; nor my heart,
That thought her like her seeming; it had
been vicious
To have mistrusted her: yet, O my daughter!
That it was folly in me, thou mayst say,
And prove it in thy feeling. Heaven mend all!

Related Characters: Cymbeline (speaker), Cornelius (speaker), Imogen/Fidele , The Queen, Cloten
Page Number: 5.5.62-84
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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The Queen Character Timeline in Cymbeline

The timeline below shows where the character The Queen appears in Cymbeline. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
...King married a second wife, some time after the death of his first. This new Queen had a son of her own, named Cloten, whom Cymbeline planned to marry to his... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
The gentlemen exit when they notice the Queen, Posthumus, and Imogen approaching. As the Queen enters, she assures Imogen that she will take... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Once the Queen has left, Imogen exclaims that her stepmother’s promises are nothing more than “dissembling courtesy.” She... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Queen rushes in to tell the lovers to hurry up, because if Cymbeline finds them talking... (full context)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
The Queen returns, and Cymbeline scolds her for allowing Imogen and Posthumus to be alone together. The... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...with Posthumus. Pisanio responds that Posthumus asked him to stay behind to serve Imogen; the Queen admires his loyalty. Before going on a walk with the Queen, Imogen asks Pisanio to... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
One of the Queen’s ladies arrives, and tells Imogen that the Queen wants to see her. Imogen asks Pisanio... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Back at Cymbeline’s court, the Queen sends her ladies away to gather flowers. While they’re gone, the Queen privately asks the... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Cornelius’ question surprises the Queen. She comments on how long she has studied with him, learning how to make perfumes,... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
As the Queen assures Cornelius not to worry, she sees Pisanio entering. In an aside, she calls Pisanio... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Before he leaves, Cornelius reveals in an aside that he feels suspicious of the Queen’s motives and that he doesn’t like her. He fears that the Queen’s experiments on animals... (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... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Queen drops the box containing Cornelius’ compound, and Pisanio picks it up. The Queen tells Pisanio... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Queen asks Pisanio to give Imogen an accurate picture of how bad her situation is with... (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 sneaky, and his loyalty to... (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 to her room, and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Nobility Theme Icon
...annoys him most is his nobility: men don’t want to fight him because he’s the Queen’s son, whereas men with lower social status can fight as much as they like. In... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Second Lord spots Cymbeline and the Queen coming their way. Cymbeline asks if Cloten is still waiting on Imogen, and if she... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Queen tells Cloten that he owes a lot to Cymbeline for attempting to get Imogen to... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
...good relationship thus far. Before leaving, Cymbeline asks Cloten to come find him and the Queen as soon as he’s greeted Imogen, because they’ll need his help in their meeting with... (full context)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
...tell Cymbeline, but Imogen ups the ante, asking him to tell his mother, too. The Queen is supposed to be in charge of Imogen, and Imogen doesn’t care if she thinks... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
...Rome a yearly tribute of £3000 to maintain peace, but Cymbeline hasn’t paid it. The Queen tells Lucius that he’ll get used to not receiving the money, since they won’t pay... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
The Queen directly appeals to her husband: during Julius Caesar’s invasions, the Romans had to use force... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
With the lords, Cloten, and the Queen rallying behind the cause of independence, Cymbeline feels emboldened. Citing the first British King Mumultius... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...the charge of abducting Imogen. Before he goes, he hands Imogen the medicine which the Queen has given him; Pisanio hopes that the supposedly restorative medicine will help Imogen, in case... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
Lucius asks for safe conduct to Milford Haven, and wishes the Queen well. Cymbeline orders men to accompany Lucius. The ambassador asks to shake Cloten’s hand. Cloten... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
The Queen notes that Lucius left frowning—she feels that making Lucius upset reflects well on their cause.... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Queen describes how Imogen has isolated herself since Posthumus left, and that she needs time to... (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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Nobility Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...the kidnapped princes—and thus Cloten must know Belarius’ true identity. He recognizes Cloten as the Queen’s son, and urges the brothers to hurry away since they’re outlaws. Guiderius tells Belarius and... (full context)
Nobility Theme Icon
...name, and Guiderius says that it doesn’t make him afraid. Then Cloten says he’s the Queen’s son, and Guiderius tells him that he doesn’t live up to his noble birth. Cloten... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
At his court, Cymbeline asks a servant for news of the Queen’s health. With her son Cloten missing, she has developed a fever, and shows signs of... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
...with the Roman gentlemen recruited by the Senate. The news overwhelms Cymbeline, who wishes the Queen and Cloten were there to advise him. The lord encourages Cymbeline to take action immediately... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...enter. Cymbeline can tell something is wrong by their sullen expressions. Cornelius reveals that the Queen has died. Cymbeline asks for the manner of death, and Cornelius reports that her life... (full context)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
Cornelius continues, saying that the Queen hated Imogen, and would’ve poisoned Imogen if she hadn’t run away. Further, she had prepared... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...accuses Pisanio of trying to poison her. Pisanio defends himself, saying that he thought the Queen gave him medicine, not poison. Cornelius verifies this from the Queen’s confession. (full context)
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
...Cymbeline freely blesses her, saying that his tears are like holy water, and announces the Queen’s death. Imogen offers her sympathy, but Cymbeline says the Queen was worth nothing. He wonders,... (full context)
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
...that he will, after all, pay the tribute—especially since the instigators of the war, the Queen and Cloten, received a terrible fate at the gods’ hands. (full context)