Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Essay

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Essay

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Throughout Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, readers are constantly thrown in the middle of a battle between Roman and Egyptian values. Antony, a noble warrior for the Romans, is the character that seems to have the most trouble between this dichotomy. He is constantly caught between reason (Rome) and passion (Egypt) and has a difficult time making the transitions. Cleopatra is the character that stays most true to her roots, but begins adopting the other side’s values toward the end of the story. She makes a smoother transition than Antony, which can be attributed to her self-confidence and open-minded spirit. Antony is a constant source of back-and-forth commotion while Cleopatra seems to posses Egyptian qualities until the end of the book when the reader’s eyes are opened to her new, Roman ways.
Shakespeare presents Antony as someone who was once very noble and respected in the Roman empire, but then as someone who was blinded by love and lost his sense of identity to an Egyptian queen. The Romans believed Antony was a military hero, but he seems to have happily abandoned his reason in order to pursue his passion (Cleopatra) in Act 1. Antony wavers between Western and Eastern ways, feeling influenced by both his duty to the Roman Empire and his strong desire for pleasure. The readers see another example of Antony going back and forth in Act 2 when Antony dismisses Caesar’s messenger and returns to Rome to lead his country. Yet another example of Antony’s wavering feelings is when he marries Octavia as a way to mend ties with his Roman roots and association with Caesar, but he still longs to be with Cleopatra and eventually goes back to her. In one of the final scenes of the book when Antony killed himself, the readers truly...


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...a whore. Cleopatra could have decided against killing herself and hoped she could rely on her sexual appearance and favors to advance higher than Caesar or to gain control of Cesar. This would have been an emotion-based decision. Instead, she allowed Roman reason and pride to overrule her emotion and ended her life in a way to escape the inevitable and join her most noble Antony in the afterlife.
While both Antony and Cleopatra portrayed Roman and Egyptian values, Cleopatra made the transitions a bit better than Antony. The amount of ambivalence Antony felt and the blindness he experienced from his love for Cleopatra might have made his awful battle between Roman and Egyptian values symbolize an out of control pendulum. Cleopatra on the other hand used her self-confidence and self-assurance to make the switch from Egyptian values to Roman values less noticeable.

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