In Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s last plays, we see patterns in the plot, dramatic situations, characters, and thematic concerns that seem to repeat or revise elements of Shakespeare’s earlier plays. No one can miss the similarities between Giacomo’s villainy and Iago’s, or the ways in which Imogen’s cross-dressing is like Rosalind’s. Think about the many ways in which you can compare Cymbeline to its predecessors. Choose the one that most interests you, and write an essay in which you use the comparison principally to illuminate what is distinctive about Cymbeline, but also to make a critical point about the play you choose for comparison. Remember that identifying similarities is the starting point of your argument, not its conclusion. How does looking at the earlier play help you see Cymbeline more clearly? How does Cymbeline sharpen your understanding of the earlier play? Are you willing to venture any generalizations about the changes in Shakespeare’s concerns, language and artistry?
For your comparison with Cymbeline, please choose a play you did not write about in your first paper.
Some possible points of comparison (the list is suggestive, not exhaustive):
Giacomo and Iago; “comparative villains”
Imogen-Cordelia-Desdemona-Rosalind; “virtuous women”
Guiderius and Arviragus-Cloten-Prince Hal; “who is the true prince?”
Cymbeline’s queen-Regan-Goneril; “powerful wicked women”
Belarius-Kent-Edgar; “good men in disguise”
Postumus-Othello-Lear; “mistaken men”
England and Rome
Court and Country
I urge you to consult with me about the specific topic of your paper, either by email or in conference.
Five or Six pages
Due Friday, Dec. 9, 5 PM, in my Johnson Chapel mailbox.