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In Shakeapear's Play, Antont And Cleopatra, How Does Enobarbus' Description Of Cleopatra In Her Barge Re Inforce What We Have Already Learned Of Egypt And Its Queen?

2420 words - 10 pages

The scene in which this speech takes place is Act 2 Scene 2, and we have already been introduced to many of the main characters. We have had our first impressions of everything in the play, and of all the characters in the play. So far, we have learned that Egypt was regarded as a place plagued with pleasure - seekers and people who 'live for the moment'. Romans regard it as a disrespectful place of sin, and those there values are much less respected than the Romans. The stereotypical Egyptian is a 'strumpet, or a 'gypsy' *Act 1 Scene 1), and this is basically a person without moral values. They do not respect the Egyptian people, and they see Cleopatra as a typical Egyptian - Philo makes this clear to us from the beginning. However, we learn that Egypt is a wealthy and beautiful country and almost the total opposite and contrast of Rome. Rome is a place of honour and work, where Egypt is devoted to pleasure and the pursuit of happiness. The relaxing atmosphere of Egypt is reflected in the people and their attitudes. The fact that our first meeting with Cleopatra sees her with a train of people and a parade reflects that the people are proud of their country and this is reflected in their attitudes towards their queen. Her two maids, Iras and Charmian love her and try very hard to be as attractive as she is to men. They constantly talk about men and husbands, and they try to give her advice on her relationship with Mark Antony, but they cannot be like her. She is highly respected among the Egyptian people; it seems as though they are proud to have her as their queen. We are not actually given a description of Egypt, physically; we just use our imaginations to visualise what had been strong enough to entrap Mark Antony from the greatest honour in Rome. Also, the attitudes of the Egyptians and even the words of the Roman soldiers are good hints towards the splendour and magnetism that Egypt holds. The queen of Egypt is obviously seen as very attractive to men. She is often seen as mystical, and some people even thought that she possessed such magical powers. She is enchanting and revels in the fact that she is irresistible to even the most powerful men in the world, 'and the great Pompey would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow; there would he anchor his aspect, and die without looking on his life'. She is delighting in her conquests of very powerful men; she likes the fact that people are very aware of her sensuality. She is obviously very excited when she hears of the arrival of Mark Antony, and she rushes towards her next powerful conquest - she is confident in her manner and about the way she appears to men. She is aware of her own perfection and likes not to waste it, but to put it to good use and mentally dominate the most powerful men in the world - it makes her feel superior to everyone. The opulence of the Egyptian court is especially shown during the speech of Enobarbus when he tells of them roasting four boars between twelve people....

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