This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Politics And Love In Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra

2234 words - 9 pages

Politics and Love in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

Although the political struggles in Antony and Cleopatra are often treated as backdrops to the supposedly more engaging love affair between the two title characters, these struggles permeate the entire play, and give the love story its heightened sense of importance and tragedy. The relationship between Antony and Cleopatra would not have attained its renown and immortality had they not had been extremely powerful and public figures. The conflict between public duty and personal desire is the underlying theme of the play, and how the characters respond to this conflict is what imbues the play with suspense and interest. This conflict is most clearly seen in Antony who is caught between his role as a triumvir of Rome and his love for the Egyptian Queen. By allowing his all-consuming passion to overwhelm his sense of responsibility, he loses his half of the empire to Octavian. Octavian, on the other hand, consistently places the interests of the state before his own. Although he is calculating, shrewd, and unscrupulous, all of his thoughts are devoted to the ruling of Rome; politics is his one interest, and power his only obsession. Cleopatra as ruler is often treated secondarily to Cleopatra as seductress and lover. While most of the obvious power struggle is between Antony and Octavian, one cannot ignore Cleopatra's involvement. Throughout the play, and particularly at the end, she demonstrates an acute political awareness as she does her utmost to secure what is best for Egypt. In a play with three powerful figures it is expected that political motivations be never far from the foreground or from the characters' minds.

Antony's conflict is succinctly described at the beginning of the play by Philo who refers to him as the "The triple pillar of the world transformed / Into a strumpet's fool" (1.1.12-13). Shakespeare makes us aware early on of Antony's greatness as a military leader and the universal respect people bear him. Even Caesar admiringly acknowledges the martial skill that Antony displayed at Modena. This respect, however, has become tainted as a result of Antony's amorous liaison with Cleopatra. Rome is outraged by his behaviour, and the neglect he displays towards his duties is an affront to Roman values. His irritated response to news from Rome, "Grates me: the sum" (1.1.19) is irresponsible, and the speech "Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch / Of the ranged empire fall" (1.1.35-36) is further evidence of his self-absorption. These are not the words of an inspiring and dutiful leader. Antony's neglect is particularly reprehensible considering the political turmoil that was occurring all around him. While he was engaging in revelry in Alexandria, the Parthian forces were advancing, Pompey was threatening Rome, and Fulvia was warring with Octavian. Indeed, Octavian's reproach that Antony can in "No way excuse his foils when we do bear / So great weight in his...

Find Another Essay On Politics and Love in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

1360 words - 5 pages William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra While Mark Antony is a great general, one of the three triumvant, it is indeed impossible to feel sympathy for him in his extreme "dotage" for Cleopatra. He "fishes, drinks and wastes the lamps of night in revel", hence destroying his own reputation, and even losing his masculinity

William Shakespeare's Presentation of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra

2998 words - 12 pages William Shakespeare's Presentation of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra The presentation of Cleopatra in Act three Scene thirteen is quite ambiguous. Her presentation in the rest of the play is also very contrasting and distinct. I believe Shakespeare concentrated on demonstrating Cleopatra's personality and ambiguity to emphasise that, being the only central female in the play, it is even more surprising that she

Shakespeare's Plays of Love and Tragedy:Romeo & Juliet/Antony & Cleopatra

2264 words - 9 pages dead Romeo kills him self. When Juliet wakes up and realises Romeo is dead she kills herself as well.It seems that just about everyone knows of the tragic story of "Romeo and Juliet." This play has turned into modern motion pictures, and inspired countless love songs. This play is Shakespeare's timeless story of young, pure, romantic love.Anthony and Cleopatra (1607)In summary: Caesar and Antony are the rulers of the Roman Empire. Antony, though

Female Power, Maternity and Genderbending in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

3243 words - 13 pages Female Power, Maternity and Genderbending in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra The 19th century essayist and literary critic William Hazlitt wrote of Cleopatra, "She is voluptuous, ostentatious, conscious, boastful of her charms, haughty, tyrannical, [and] fickle," which are "great and unpardonable faults" (Hazlitt 2-3). Much of the criticism of Antony and Cleopatra has recycled this judgement, depicting Cleopatra as a villainess

Shakespeare's Use of Language in Antony and Cleopatra

2734 words - 11 pages Shakespeare's Use of Language in Antony and Cleopatra Enobarbus uses the phrase "infinite variety" to describe the beauty and wonder of Cleopatra to Agrippa and Maecenas in Act 2 Scene 2. In the context of the whole play I believe it is a perfect description of how Cleopatra uses the different aspects of her character. Shakespeare uses language, imagery and structure to show the different sides of her personality

The Character of Enorbarbus in William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

965 words - 4 pages The Character of Enorbarbus in William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Enobarbus’s character can be seen as the most striking invention of Shakespeare. As the lieutenant of Antony, he contributes to the drama in a number of ways. He is sympathetic to Antony from the start, loyal and fellow feeling. Instead of agreeing with Antony at the beginning where he says he wishes he had never met Cleopatra, Enobarbus

Greco-Roman Influence in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

1514 words - 6 pages Greco-Roman Influence in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra   Greco-Roman mythological images seem to dominate Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ever since the humanist revolution started, Renaissance writers, including Shakespeare, systematically tried to revive Greek literature and Greek mythology. It was an attempt to establish an alternative authority to Catholic scholastic dogma that has the stamp of antiquity. &nbsp

William Shakespeare's Presentation of Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra

2376 words - 10 pages William Shakespeare's Presentation of Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra Shakespeare portrays Octavius Caesar as a very complex character in 'Antony and Cleopatra.' Shakespeare shows the audience how he has very strong feelings about War, leadership, the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra, and his sister Octavia. These attitudes can be seen as being too rational, too ambitious, and too efficient. However it

Antony a better Leader than Caesar in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra:

1078 words - 4 pages Antony a better Leader than Caesar in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra: In Shakespeare?s play 'Antony and Cleopatra' Caesar, while he displays remarkable tactical skills, is calculating and cold hearted. Antony on the other hand embodies many admirable qualities and emotions which make him the greater of the two. Firstly I will look at Caesar?s military victories before examining Antony?s great human qualities. Looking at Caesar, he

The truly tragic figure in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is Cleopatra. Discuss

836 words - 3 pages , this expression contains not only love, but the tragic realisation of what she has lost: the whole world.But is the final effect ‘truly’ or solely tragic? I A Richards claims that if a play has a compensating Heaven to offer the tragic hero, [the effect] is fatal.’ Cleopatra and Antony look forward to reunion in the Elysian fields and so, how can we feel the tragic reaction of pity? Jacobean audiences believed in some form of after

Essay on the Love Story of Antony and Cleopatra

1659 words - 7 pages The Love Story of Antony and Cleopatra      The tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra can be said to have an overall effect of comical lightness. In this way, it is altogether different from the preceding tragedies, although the tragedy that leads to the death and destruction of Antony and Cleopatra is definitely a matter of choice rather than of circumstances that engulf the hero. Yet, ultimately their tragic ending differs greatly from the

Similar Essays

Powerplay In Shakespeare's, 'antony And Cleopatra'

945 words - 4 pages Antony and CleopatraThroughout the play, Antony and Cleopatra, the charactors' use and manipulation of power have certain impacts on their decisions and their lives. Right from the outset, the audience is made aware of certain plays on power and the impact this has on the delicate relationships in the play. The plays theme of power play circulates mostly around the politics surrounding Antony and the Triumvirs and Antony's relationship with

Tragic Heroism In Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra

1719 words - 7 pages In the tragedy “Antony and Cleopatra”, Shakespeare presents our protagonist Mark Antony as a tragic hero. He does this by using a number of dramatically effective methods, including language, staging techniques and structure. Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a character of noble stature who has a tragic flaw (usually hubris which is over confidence/arrogance) and suffers a downfall that is partially their fault but also due to factors beyond

William Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra Essay

2655 words - 11 pages William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra In the play Antony and Cleopatra, the character of Cleopatra is one of many dimensions and be seen a person of complex diversity. Her personality is mainly about

William Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra Essay

1112 words - 4 pages William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra “Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet” – Camille Paglia The prim and proper women and the strong and strapping men are no match for Shakespeare’s haze of character’s muddled together in Antony and Cleopatra. As always Shakespeare delivers a luminary cast of individuals that deviate from the socially accepted gender roles. As the audience works its way through the