Act II - Act II, Scene 5
Another room in PHILARIO'S house.
Is there no way for men to be, but women
Must be half-workers? We are all bastards;
And that most venerable man which I
Did call my father, was I know not where
When I was stamp'd. Some coiner with his tools
Made me a counterfeit; yet my mother seem'd
The Dian of that time. So doth my wife
The nonpareil of this. O, vengeance, vengeance!
Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd
And pray'd me oft forbearance; did it with
A pudency so rosy, the sweet view on't
Might well have warm'd old Saturn; that I thought her
As chaste as unsunn'd snow. O, all the devils!
This yellow Iachimo, in an hour,--was't not?--
Or less,--at first?--perchance he spoke not, but,
Like a full-acorn'd boar, a German one,
Cried "O!" and mounted; found no opposition
But what he look'd for should oppose and she
Should from encounter guard. Could I find out
The woman's part in me! For there's no motion
That tends to vice in man, but I affirm
It is the woman's part; be it lying, note it,
The woman's; flattering, hers; deceiving, hers;
Lust and rank thoughts, hers, hers; revenges, hers;
Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain,
Nice longing, slanders, mutability,
All faults that may be nam'd, nay, that hell knows,
Why, hers, in part or all; but rather, all.
For even to vice
They are not constant, but are changing still
One vice, but of a minute old, for one
Not half so old as that. I'll write against them,
Detest them, curse them; yet 'tis greater skill
In a true hate, to pray they have their will.
The very devils cannot plague them better.
— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
Posthumus Leonatus is more willing to believe in the false evidence of his wife's infidelity rather than her own constancy. He flies into a raging soliloquy in this passage: Posthumus extrapolates from his wife to all women; the infidelity of one lover casts doubt even on one's own mother. He continues, saying that he wants to remove "the woman's part" in him (his mother's part) because it is the part full of infidelity, viciousness, and deception. He states that any weaknesses he has are not his own fault, but his mother's. For Posthumus, as for many of Shakespeare's male characters, women are intrinsically capricious and plague noble and valorous men.