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Cymbeline: Novel Summary: Act 2 Scene 3

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Cloten is playing some Lords, either at dice or cards, and losing again. Some musicians enter; Cloten has employed them to serenade Imogen, which they do.
The King and Queen enter. Cymbeline inquires whether Imogen has come out of her room. When Cloten says she has not, Cymbeline says that in time, Imogen will forget Posthumus and then she will be Cloten's. The Queen advises him to obey Imogen in everything except when she sends him away.
A messenger announces that some ambassadors from Rome, including one called Lucius, have arrived. Cymbeline knows that Rome is angry with him, but he will receive Lucius, who is a worthy man, according to the honor of the Emperor. He asks Cloten to greet Imogen and then to follow him and the Queen to meet the Roman.
Cloten, left alone, plans to bribe one of Imogen's ladies to buy access to her. Gold can do anything, he says, even have an honest man killed and save a thief.
He knocks at Imogen's door. A Lady emerges, and Cloten offers her gold to speak for him. Imogen enters. She tells Cloten that she does not care for him, and indeed, she hates him. Cloten says she owes her father obedience. Because of her royal status, she does not have free choice and cannot marry a "base slave." Imogen angrily defends her husband, saying that Cloten, even if he were the god Jupiter's son, would be "too base / To be his groom" (lines 127-8).
Imogen calls Pisanio and send him to ask one of her ladies to search for her bracelet. She is sure that she had it last night, because she kissed it.
Cloten is offended by Imogen's statement that Posthumus's "meanest garment" is dearer to her than Cloten, and threatens to tell her father. Imogen suggests he tell the Queen too, and is in no doubt that she will think the worst of her. Cloten vows revenge.
Cloten employs lewd imagery when talking of Imogen (lines 14-15): "penetrate," "fingering" and "try with tongue too" are ostensibly about music but have sexual double meanings. The delicate song that follows Cloten's lewd speech, "Hark, hark, the lark at heaven's gate sings, / And Phoebus gins arise," reflects the split between the superficially civilized surface and the brutally vulgar. The inappropriateness of Cloten's attitude to Imogen is underscored by his own reference to her ladies as "Diana's rangers" (line 70), Diana being the goddess of chastity.
Cloten's plan to use gold to bribe Imogen's ladies is significant, as Imogen has previously (Act 1, scene 2, line 74) used the imagery of gold to convey the true worth of Posthumus. Gold is traditionally seen as the incorruptible metal, as it does not tarnish, but Cloten wants to use it to corrupt innocence.
There is profound irony in Imogen's hope that her bracelet has not gone to tell Posthumus that she is kissing something or someone other than him, since we know, where Imogen does not, that Iachimo plans to use this bracelet as proof that she is unfaithful.
Imogen's steadfastness comes across in this scene, as she fearlessly defends herself and Posthumus against Cloten's onslaught.


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