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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 is
these characteristics which in some ways, form the particular contrast
with Antony, which shows us his complex character, which also
contributes to the conflicts which arise in the play. Shakespeare is
very clever in the portrayal of Caesar; he uses Caesar as a foil for
Antony, however he is a character in his own right.

Shakespeare shows Caesar to be, what you could say, a contradiction.
The audience see how Caesar respects Antony's soldier-ship yet still
fights him; they see how he clearly loves his sister, but uses her
unscrupulously as a political device; and they are shown how he is
very rational and dull, yet he surprisingly tells his soldiers, as
well as some Egyptians about how he would parade the defeated
Cleopatra. He wants to do this because he feels that 'her life in Rome
would be eternal in our triumph.' This shows the reader how Caesar has
strong emotional outcries, which contrasts his initial
characteristics. The first impressions the audience gains of Caesar
show him to be a complete contrast to what the audiences have
previously observed about Antony, one of the other leaders in the

Caesar is very strong-minded about leadership, and prioritises rules
and regulations over love and fun. This is one of the reasons why he
is so opposed to the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. He
disapproves of Antony's behaviour. He criticises Antony to Lepidus and
although Lepidus does not agree completely with Caesar's views, Caesar
persistently reminds Lepidus what Antony does when in Egypt. Caesar
disagrees with the way Antony spends his time, he feels as though he
'wastes The lamps of night in revel.' This is said within Caesar's
first speech, which shows how Shakespeare instantly portrays him.coaa
aar seaaaaw oraa aak inaa foaa aa;

When watching the 1975 Royal Shakespeare Company performance of
'Antony and Cleopatra' Corin Redgrave, the actor playing the role of
Caesar memorably played this particular part with a very disgusted
facial expression. This initial portrayal by Redgrave, I think, shows
Shakespeare's point effectively and cleverly. This part of the play is
the first time the audience see Caesar, and the first impression is of
great importance. The immense disgrace felt by Caesar was also
recognised through Redgrave's performance due to the fact that for the
majority of the rest of the play he played the role of Caesar...

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