By William Shakespeare
Probably written as early at 1611

General Note: In January 2009 I decided that I’d like to go back and read all the plays of William Shakespeare, perhaps one a month if that works out. I hadn’t read a Shakespeare play since 1959, 50 years ago! But I had read nearly all of them in college. I wanted to go back, start with something not too serious or challenging, and work my way through the whole corpus. Thus I began with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. At this time I have no idea how the project will go, nor if it will actually lead me through the entire corpus of Shakespeare’s plays. However, I will keep a separate page listing each play I’ve read with links to any comments I would make of that particular play. See: List of Shakespeare’s play’s I’ve read and commented on


Comments by Bob Corbett
March 2011

I enjoyed this play very much, but at times it was quite confusing. About half the main characters have alternative names and identities, and for a while I was constantly going back and forth trying to figure out who was who, and why they were using double identities.

Despite those difficulties, there were quite a few really marvelous people and I was utterly delighted to end up discovering that the “tragedy” of Cymbeline, was not a tragedy TO Cymbeline himself, a seemly lovely man.

In the main it is a love story, one in which an Italian scoundrel tries to seduce the king’s daughter, Imogen, but she resists him. Nonetheless, he lies to her husband, himself exiled to Italy, and the dumb husband accepts the false evidence. Thus a major theme is the confused and very sad love affair between the king’s daughter and her estranged husband.

There is a wicked queen who would make other wicked queens seem like angels, and she meddles in Imogen’s (her stepdaughter) world, trying to advance her son’s case and put Imogen more under her control. While the play is primarily a working out of the lives and loves of the royal family, nonetheless, there is a side plot of an Italian invasion to bring Cymbeline’s kingdom under Italian control. This part of the play seemed to me to be quite underdeveloped and it was confusing to know exactly why this was all occurring, other than Cymbeline’s refusal to pay his taxes and acknowledge the justice of the Italian rule, or at least the fact of it.

I didn’t find very many of those grabbing lines or speeches that Shakespeare is so known for, nor did I find those gems of psychological insight that he often displays. But the story itself was exciting and suspenseful.

It was the first time I have read the play and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Bob Corbett



Becoming Reading Thinking Journals


Bob Corbett