Antony A Tragic Hero? Essay

1513 words - 6 pages

In order to determine whether Antony is a tragic hero in Antony and Cleopatra, we must first define exactly what a tragic hero is, before being able to analyse whether Antony is portrayed as such. It is generally accepted that a tragic hero is a “man of noble stature”, who falls from a place grace, who exhibits many extraordinary qualities that set him apart from other men and who is a remarkable example of someone in his position. A key element of a tragic hero is that the audience must feel pity for the character’s death or downfall and there are several reasons both why the audience would feel pity for and why they wouldn’t feel pity for Antony upon his death.
Antony is generally highly regarded and his status as a tragic hero is elevated through others’ accounts of him, as well as through poetic nature of the characters’ speech, despite the reckless impression we get of him. For example, Enobarbus remarked that he is “nobler than my result is infamous”. Additionally, Philo’s initial dialogue concerning Antony in Act 1.1.1-9 speaks highly of him: “Those his godly eyes,/That o’er the files and musters of the war/Have glowed like plated Mars, now bend, now turn/The office and devotion of their view/Upon a tawny front.” Similarly, Cleopatra exclaims “his legs bestrid the ocean; his reared arm Crested the world”. This poetic image summarizes her positive view of Antony, by speaking about him in such cosmic proportions, therefore strengthening Antony’s stature. Furthermore, despite Caesar being portrayed as an all round better leader than Antony, even he has admiration for Antony, as demonstrated in Act 1.4.69-72.
… And all this -
It wounds thine honour that I speak it now
Was borne so like a soldier that thy cheek
So much as lanked not.
Caesar’s recognition of how Antony has been a remarkable general in the past heightens that audience’s impression of him more so than as a result of other characters’ speeches due to his prominence in the Triumvirate and his demeanour as a reputable leader. Furthermore, two characters, Eros and Enobarbus, kill themselves as a result of Antony’s influence on them: Enobarbus kills himself as he begs for Antony’s forgiveness for his disloyalty:
… O Antony,
Nobler than my revolt is infamous,
Forgive me in thine own particular…
Similarly, Eros is unwilling to kill Antony, despite Antony’s request; he instead says “The god withhold me!/Shall I do that which all the Parthian darts,/Though enemy, lost aim and could not?” and kills himself. These deaths are significant in that they make an impression on Antony’s status: they believed so strongly in Antony’s ability as a leader that they would be willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to protect him.
Antony’s deep and infinite love for Cleopatra further ennobles him as the audience feels a sense of respect for his passion and dedication to the Queen. When Antony is required in Rome in Act 1.1, he says “Let Rome in Tiber melt!”, which...

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