John Dover Wilson, Shakespeare's Happy Comedies ( Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1962), 161.
R. Warwick Bond, Early Plays from the Italian ( 1911; rpt. New York: Benjamin Bloom), xxxix-xl).
Craig, Works of Shakespeare, 504.
W. H. Auden, "Belmont and Venice," in The Dyer's Hand and Other
Essays ( New York: Random House, 1962), 234.
Helen Gardner, "As You Like It," in More Talking of Shakespeare, ed.
( London: Longmans, Green, 1959), 17-32.
H. B. Charlton, Shakespearian Comedy ( 1938; rpt. London: Methuen, 1966), pp. 285-6. Charlton says further that "Perhaps it was primarily
because Shakespeare found women more sensitive to intuition and
more responsive to emotion that he first promoted them to dominion
in the realm of comedy. He found, moreover, in their instincts a kind
of finely developed mother-wit, a variety of humanized common sense
which, because it was impregnated with humane feeling, was more apt
to lay hold of the essential realities of existence than was the more rarified and isolated intellect of man" (286).
In his introduction to the play in The Riverside Shakespeare, Hallett
Smith comments on the literary roots of the wager. "The first dramatic
development in Cymbeline, after the banishment of Posthumus, is the
wager on the question of Imogen's fidelity to her husband. This popular motif, widespread in medieval literature, is best known as the ninth
story of the second day in
Boccaccio Decameron. No English
translation was available to Shakespeare, but he could have read the tale
in French rendering, if not in Italina; he certainly read the English
translation of a German version of it called Frederick of Jennen. Modern
critics have often found the situation a distasteful one, for as W. W.
Lawrence says, 'Nowadays we feel that to give a villain a chance to
attempt to seduce one's wife, for the sake of proving to him and to
others her unassailable chastity, would be the height of folly, and of
cruelty to her. But the Middle Ages thought otherwise; they believed
that virtue exaggerated, as it seems to us, beyond reason, was a virtue
magnified.' Accordingly, the character of Posthumus should be viewed
in a chivalric context, and his behavior, up to the time he is deceived by
the villain Jachimo, considered fully worthy of the high reputation he
enjoys in Britain and abroad" ( 1518). Perhaps, but I think, as I have