Cymbeline

Gold and Jewelry Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Gold and Jewelry Symbol Icon

Gold and jewelry have a double meaning in Cymbeline, representing virtue or corruption depending on how they’re used. At the beginning of the play, before Posthumus goes into exile, he and Imogen exchange a bracelet and a ring as a pledge of fidelity. Posthumus says that he holds the ring “as dear as [his] finger,” and Imogen treasures her bracelet. In this context, gold and jewelry symbolize virtue, loyalty, and love. However, this is a well-intentioned exchange of jewelry; later on, as characters seek gold or jewelry through force or trickery, gold and jewelry take on the meaning of corruption and greed. For example, Iachimo uses deception to win Posthumus’ ring in his bet over Imogen’s chastity. Further, Iachimo tries to convince Imogen that Posthumus is using her gold to pay for prostitutes while in exile. He even steals the bracelet Posthumus gave Imogen in order to “prove” her infidelity. Likewise, Cloten uses the language of gold to convey his lust for power, claiming that when he wins Imogen (whom he desires for her status and wealth) he will “have gold enough.” Though Imogen and Posthumus’ exchange of jewelry is virtuous, when Imogen tries to give Guiderius and Arviragus gold as an honest payment for food, the brothers reject the gold, since they understand that gold corrupts. Arviragus says that “All gold and silver rather turn to dirt!/ As ‘tis no better reckon’d, but of those/ Who worship dirty gods.” Shakespeare therefore suggests that, while gold and jewelry can embody virtue, they also have corrupting potential and are perhaps best avoided altogether.

Gold and Jewelry Quotes in Cymbeline

The Cymbeline quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gold and Jewelry. 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

IMOGEN
…This diamond was my mother’s: take it, heart;
But keep it till you woo another wife,
When Imogen is dead.

POSTHUMUS
How, how! another?
You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
And sear up my embracements from a next
With bonds of death!
…for my sake wear this;
It is a manacle of love; I’ll place it
Upon this fairest prisoner.

Related Characters: Imogen/Fidele (speaker), Posthumus Leonatus (speaker)
Related Symbols: Gold and Jewelry
Page Number: 1.1.132-145
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

POSTHUMUS
What lady would you choose to assail?

IACHIMO
Yours; whom in constancy you think stands so safe.
I will lay you ten thousand ducats to your ring,
that, commend me to the court where your lady is,
with no more advantage than the opportunity of a
second conference, and I will bring from thence
that honour of hers which you imagine so reserved.

Related Characters: Posthumus Leonatus (speaker), Iachimo (speaker), Imogen/Fidele
Related Symbols: Gold and Jewelry
Page Number: 1.4.122-128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

IACHIMO
[Kneeling] I am down again:
But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee,
As then your force did. Take that life, beseech you,
Which I so often owe: but your ring first;
And here the bracelet of the truest princess
That ever swore her faith.

POSTHUMUS LEONATUS
Kneel not to me:
The power that I have on you is, to spare you;
The malice towards you to forgive you: live,
And deal with others better.

CYMBELINE
Nobly doom’d!
We’ll learn our freeness of a son-in-law;
Pardon’s the word to all.

Related Characters: Cymbeline (speaker), Posthumus Leonatus (speaker), Iachimo (speaker)
Related Symbols: Gold and Jewelry
Page Number: 5.5.510-522
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Gold and Jewelry Symbol Timeline in Cymbeline

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gold and Jewelry 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
...again, Posthumus and Imogen can’t make themselves say goodbye. Imogen gives Posthumus her mother’s diamond ring to pledge her loyalty. In return, Posthumus gives Imogen a bracelet to symbolize their bond... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Imperialism vs. Independence Theme Icon
...Imogen with his own eyes and she proved to be as lustrous as Posthumus’ diamond ring. But Iachimo claims that, just as he himself hasn’t seen the most precious diamond that... (full context)
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
Posthumus tells Iachimo that he is mistaken in the way he looks at the diamond ring through a materialistic lens, rather than understanding its symbolic meaning. The diamond can be sold... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...he is away, another man may tempt Imogen. Just as a thief could steal Posthumus’ ring, an “accomplished courtier” could steal his lover away from him. The ring is a temporary,... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Iachimo says he’ll bet half of his belongings against Posthumus’ ring that he can woo any woman in the world. According to Iachimo, it’s Posthumus’ confidence... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
...recommendation that enable him to speak with Imogen. Iachimo bets ten thousand ducats against Posthumus’ ring that he will win Imogen’s honor. (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Posthumus says he would rather bet gold than his ring, since the ring is as precious to him as his own finger.... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Provoked, Posthumus says that he’ll lend Iachimo his ring until Iachimo returns from Britain. He says they should draw up a contract with the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...for one small favor. He, Posthumus, and other friends brought a present of silver and jewels for the Emperor, and Iachimo asks Imogen if she can store them safely. She promises... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
The Gods and Fate Theme Icon
...but once she falls asleep, Iachimo emerges from the trunk that he had said contained jewels for the Emperor. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
...that her ladies are attending her, and he plans to bribe one of them with gold to give a good report of him to Imogen. A gentlewoman answers and asks what... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Nobility Theme Icon
...Imogen’s comparison, Pisanio arrives, and Imogen asks him to fetch her serving-woman since Cloten is pestering her. She also asks Pisanio to tell her lady to look for Posthumus’ bracelet, which... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Posthumus asks Iachimo where the ring is. Iachimo replies that he would travel a long way to enjoy another night with... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Again, Iachimo shows Posthumus the bracelet, and asks him to go pale with shock. Posthumus asks if that is the bracelet... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Posthumus looks at the ring and meditates that beauty and honor don’t go together, nor do truth and outward appearances.... (full context)
Morality and Loyalty Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Iachimo swears he got the bracelet from Imogen, which makes Posthumus believe that his story is true. Imogen wouldn’t have lost... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
Nobility Theme Icon
...not to hurt her. She tells them that she ate their food, and hands Belarius gold as repayment. The brothers scoff at the money—they think gold is corrupt. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Theme Icon
...his demands, and asks Iachimo to step forward. Fidele asks Iachimo where he obtained his ring. The boy’s request puzzles Posthumus. Cymbeline repeats Fidele’s question, and Iachimo is relieved to reveal... (full context)