Cloten is Cymbeline’s stepson, the Queen’s son by her first marriage, and a remarkably stupid man.
The ultimate spoiled brat, he is destined by both King and Queen to marry the Princess Imogen, and by the Queen at least to therefore be named heir to the throne. Unfortunately for them all, he is quite unable to woo said Princess, as he is rude, self-involved, dense, quarrelsome, foul-mouthed, and snobbish, as well as a bad gambler and an overdressed fop surrounded by sycophants – not to mention rather smelly. He is also full of bravado, and gives this full sway at an important diplomatic meeting, thereby precipitating a war by offering up admittedly patriotic insults to an ambassador. A man with a crude mind, he is so insulted that Imogen prefers the poor Posthumus to himself that when she runs after the latter he plans to follow, find them, and commit murder on the man and rape on the woman. Literal-minded, Cloten cannot understand a figurative insult, and thinks that Imogen merely prefers Posthumus’s clothes to his own. Rather a buffoon, Cloten is never the less a well-shaped man, physically almost identical to Posthumus.