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The Differing Portrayals Of Anthony And Cleopatra In William Shakespeare's Play

1971 words - 8 pages

The Differing Portrayals of Anthony and Cleopatra in William Shakespeare's Play

Act one of Anthony and Cleopatra deals immediately with the different
personalities of Anthony and Cleopatra. It shows the pressure of the
outside world on their relationship. By the end of the act you are
left unsure as to who is the more treacherous, who is more loving and
are given different perspectives of Anthony and Cleopatra. At a quick
glance over the act the reader would automatically point the finger at
Cleopatra as being the more sinister of the two. However, with a more
in depth look it would appear that this is not the case, and we are
left challenged as to whom is seem in a more positive light.

Anthony and Cleopatra was written in 1607 during a time of great
change in Western Europe. Christian and Pagan world views interacted
with each other in rich and often paradoxical ways and signs of that
complicated interaction are present in many of Shakespeare works and
is clearly evident in Anthony and Cleopatra.

Anthony and Cleopatra is sometimes classified as a tragedy, however,
because of it’s uniqueness it is difficult to categorize. Many place
it with the Roman plays, Julius Caesar and Cariallunis, all three
use Plucharch’s view of the noble Grecians and Romans as their primary
source and all three have concerns steeped in historical and political
queries. Shakespeare may also have taken inspiration from Robert
Games tragedy ‘Marc Antoine’, Shakespeare with the famous classical
treatment of the clash between love and Roman duty in his mind. The
poet Virgil wrote, the aenid, which is a Latin epic poem. The poem
tells the story of the hero Aneas, whose mission it is to lead the
Trojans to a God-given district in Italy. On being shipwrecked of the
African coast he meets Dido, queen of Cartage, and falls in love with
her and has to be reminded of his mission. He then does the Roman
thing and leaves for Italy to find the city Latium, which is to become
the parent city of Rome itself. It is easy to see how Shakespeare has
consumed information from all the different sources to write
Cleopatra, and this enables us to have an insight as to why things
happen.

The first three scenes of act one all takes place in Queen Cleopatra’s
palace in Alexandria. Promptly establishing the conflict between duty
and passion, ambition and pleasure, Rome and Egypt. The complexity of
Cleopatra’s character manifests itself, her incredible emotional
vicissitudes, her theatricalllity, her manipulative streak and her
genuine passion for Anthony. We are immediately greeted with a less
than kind impression of Cleopatra when Philo and Elemetrius have a
conversation where they imply that she is a whore “gipsys lust” In
Shakespeare’s time this connotated sorcery, treachery and cheap
trickery. ...

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