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Antony And Cleopatra By William Shakespeare

1860 words - 7 pages

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra is a play in which the balance of power swings
interestingly between two lovers. It is set in the First Century BC
between Rome and Egypt. Antony is one of the three members of the
second triumvirate who jointly rule the Roman Empire. Antony is the
eponymous tragic hero, who allows his love for Cleopatra to cloud his
judgement. According to Aristotle this is hamartia, an error of
judgment caused by fate. This leads to his downfall. Cleopatra is the
Queen of Egypt; she is a very clever yet volatile lady. We follow
their relationship and changes in power between them throughout the
play in chronological order. The great feeling of love between the two
characters allows the play to have unexpected twists. Culminating in
both their suicides, unusually Cleopatra lives on past Antony's death.
We can easily see the balance of power shift throughout the play,
between Antony and Cleopatra.

From the opening of the play we see the imbalance of power between the
two as in Act one Scene one which is framed by disapproval as two
offices lament the change that has came over their leader; "And is
become the bellows and the fan/ To cool a gipsy's lust". This is a
typical Roman view of Antony being subservient to Cleopatra, given to
us from Philo a Roman soldier based in Egypt. The soldier also states
from what a great height Antony has fallen; "The triple pillar of the
world transform'd / Into a strumpet's fool." These two passages show
us that even from the beginning the audience is made aware of
Cleopatra's effect on Antony. The language Philo uses shows how he
feel as "strumpet" and "gypsy" are very derogatory terms to use to
describe a queen. They also add to the total paradox of Cleopatra's
character she is always seen in two lights. In scene one we also see
the first example of Cleopatra's domineering nature as she declares:
"I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd". This lets us know that she
is defiantly in charge of the relationship at this point. In Roman
times women were seen as weak characters, Cleopatra's proves to be
different. Her volatile, controlling and clever personality allows she
to show how dominating she can be. We see that at the beginning of the
play the balance of power most defiantly lies with her.

In Act one Scene two were learn that Antony is aware that Cleopatra is
his downfall. This is what makes him the tragic hero: he is fully
aware of his flaw but unable to stop it. His love for Cleopatra is
leading him astray. Antony has two realisations in the scene, in his
first he knows his love for Cleopatra shall be his undoing. His self
awareness is obvious when he says "These strong Egyptian fetters,I
must break,/Or lose myself in dotage." Later in the scene Shakespeare
uses a soliloquy to put across...

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