From the very outset of the passage, a sense of mystery and awe is conjured up with description of Cleopatra’s ‘barge’ being ‘like a burnish’d throne’ which creates the image of a mystical and mysterious, omnipotent god-like figure, gliding along the water on their regal throne. This image is furthered with the description that the barge ‘Burn’d on the water’ which suggests that she radiated light and power, adding to this sense of awe and enchantment. The fact that this ‘barge’, a common water vessel and often not thought of as beautiful in any way, has been so dressed as to appear like ‘a burnish’d throne’ invites intrigue and hence gives an air of mystery and esteem to the occupant of it.
The description of the barge is drenched in a regal colour scheme. The ‘the poop’ being described as ‘beaten gold’ with ‘the sails’ being ‘purple’, ‘the oars’ being ‘silver’ and later on the ‘smiling Cupids/With divers-colour’d fans’ suggests a sort of regal haughtiness that is enchanting and startling to the nearby onlookers. It also as if Cleopatra is irradiating these colours like a divine being. An almost seductive tone follows with the description of the barge being ‘so perfumed that/The winds were love-sick with them’. This hyperbole furthers Cleopatra’s mysterious and almost mythical n...
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...nting nature as Enobarbus has spent a lot of time around her while Philo hasn’t which shows that it is very true that ‘the vilest things/Become themselves in her’, highlighting her enchanting and alluring nature.
Throughout this passage, Shakespeare uses various different literary techniques: he likens both Cleopatra and Cleopatra’s surroundings to various mythical beings; uses various different senses to create an evocative picture of the event; likens her to a God; draws comparisons with descriptions of Cleopatra earlier in the play; and uses the beat of the lines to create a musical rhythm. All of this efficiently paints an evocative picture of the scene whilst suggesting a seductive and alluring nature to Cleopatra all of which conveys a sense of mystery and enchantment that permeates throughout this description of the first encounter between Antony and Cleopatra.
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