Antony & Cleopatra Essay

1391 words - 6 pages

The Coexistence of Love and Politics in Antony and CleopatraWilliam Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is a play which features a variety of key themes. Some of these themes include loyalty, honor, manhood, and flux. These four themes play major parts in Antony and Cleopatra, giving the play a very unique twist. Although these themes contribute greatly to the context of the play, the two most influential themes in Antony and Cleopatra are probably love and politics. The unprecedented way in which love and politics are used creates controversy involving Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and these controversies appear frequently throughout the play.Antony and Cleopatra opens with a dialogue between Mark Antony and Cleopatra. The two lovers are talking about the love, or lack there of, between them. Cleopatra tells Antony that, if he truly loves her, he should tell her how much he loves her (1.1, 14). Antony responds by telling Cleopatra that professed love has very little value (1.1, 15). This is an interesting beginning to the play because it indicates that, although Antony and Cleopatra are lovers, they either do not actually love each other, or they are too hesitant to proclaim their love to one another. The irony of this situation is that Antony has neglected his soldierly duties for Rome due to the fact that he arrived in Egypt and fell in love with Cleopatra. Antony’s negligent behavior costs him dearly back in Rome.Back in Rome, Octavius Caesar and Aemilius Lepidus, rulers with Antony in the Roman triumvirate, are dealing with major domestic problems. Although they have sent for Antony to come back to Rome, Antony ignores these requests for help and remains in Egypt with Cleopatra. Upon learning that Antony ignored his messages, Caesar questions Antony’s manhood, saying that Antony is hardly manlier than Cleopatra and also that Cleopatra is hardly more womanly than Antony (1.4, 5-8). Lepidus, however, vouches for Antony, telling Octavius that, although Antony has neglected his duties as a Roman ruler and soldier, Antony has done many good things, and the good things he has done far outnumber the bad things. Caesar disagrees with Lepidus about the fact that Antony’s good deeds overshadow his bad deeds, but he says that he will let Antony’s guilt bring him back to Rome (1.4, 73-77).Antony’s negligence of his Roman duties is the first indication of the controversy created by the clashing themes of love and politics. Rather than going back to Rome to Caesar and Lepidus, Antony ignores his political obligations and instead pursues love. There are two possible interpretations of this situation.The first interpretation is from Egypt’s point of view. In Antony and Cleopatra’s time, Egypt was a land of flux and change. Due to the nature of this land, Egypt may consider Antony’s behavior acceptable. The second point of view, however, may consider Antony’s behavior very shameful and disgraceful. This is, of...

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