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Cymbeline Summary
William Shakespeare

Everything you need to understand or teach Cymbeline by William Shakespeare.

  • Cymbeline Summary & Study Guide
  • 46 Literature Criticism
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Cymbeline Summary


Cymbeline deals with a concept as familiar to modern audiences as it was to Shakespeare's audiences: nationalism. The play is set in the ancient, pre- Christian past, a time when the Roman Empire was flourishing and England, or Britain, was an island country comprised of numerous feudal territories with distinctly tribal loyalties. During the reign of Julius Caesar, Roman soldiers occupied England but eventually withdrew when England's isolation and the constant vigilance necessary to contain Celtic barbarities became too much of a drain on Roman resources. Rome still considered England a colony and demanded tribute, a kind of monetary tax, and King Cymbeline's refusal to pay that tribute is the central issue of Shakespeare's play. Shakespeare, though, wrote Cymbeline in the early seventeenth century, a time when England was beginning to emerge as an empire in its own right, an empire rivaling that of Rome. It was an era...

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Cymbeline Study Guide

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