Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

1692 Words7 Pages
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra opens with a five-scene act, four of which takes place in Egypt and one in Rome. In the opening act of the play, the audience is introduced to several characters, some of which play a prominent role throughout the play and others that only appear in the opening act and remain anonymous to the audience in spite of their crucial theatrical function. The opening act provides a stir of varying tones and moods which allow the audience to be emotionally involved with the characters on stage. The play opens with a serious tone when the audience witness two Roman soldiers expressing their extreme distaste towards the conduct of their general. This mood, however, shifts to a lighter one immediately when we get our first encounter with Antony and Cleopatra on stage. Scene Two contrasts the incredible gaiety and liveliness of Cleopatra's court with a dour, though not humorless, Soothsayer. The seriousness of the prophesies presented by soothsayer is overshadowed by Charmian and Iras’s continuous bawdy jokes. , it serves to depict the undercurrents of the play – something tragic is bound to happen but the characters are completely ignorant of that. The audience, however, would be aware of the implications of the prophesies and that allows much anticipation throughout the play. The serious tone of the play is later strengthened when we see Antony very disturbed by news from Rome and finally Caesar and Lepidus’s acknowledgement of the military and political threats Rome is facing. From there, the tone changes again in the final scene of the opening act where we see ... ... middle of paper ... ...at will take place in the play. The relationships between the characters of the play established in the first act also allow much speculation as to how these relationships will develop. For example, Caesar shows much displeasure towards Antony but he also knows of Antony’s importance as part of the triumvirate and shows considerable admiration towards Antony’s qualities as a general. Since conflicts between different characters is the essence of the play, Shakespeare has suggested possible future areas of difficulty by having several characters stress on the political and military problems and conflicts that has already occurred at the beginning of the play. The development of the play in the first five scenes is effective in continuously stimulating anticipations for further development in the play among the audience.
Open Document