English Coursework- Antony and Cleopatra
“Compare Shakespeare’s presentation of Antony in the Egyptian scenes
with his presentation of Antony in the Roman scenes”
Shakespeare presents Antony in Egypt and Antony in Rome, in a very
contrasting way. We see a man who almost contradicts his own self,
dependant upon the company he is in. A great leader, yet he falls
before Cleopatra. Antony is presented as the epitome of Roman
Philo describing Antony in the opening-
“…those his goodly eyes, that o’er the files and musters of the war
have glow’d like Mars…his captain’s heart, which in the scuffles of
great fights hath burst the buckles on his breast…”-These words
conjuring up imagery of war, machismo, and strength. Ideals that are
most reputable in a Roman. Yet this man’s role can be seen as
sublimely reversed when in the presence of Cleopatra, the domineering,
hedonistic Queen of Egypt, his love. Caesar says of Antony in Act 1
“… (Speaking of Antony) he fishes, drinks, and wastes the lamps of
night in revel; is not more manlike than Cleopatra, nor the Queen of
Ptolomy more womanly than he.”
Coming from Caesar, one of Antony’s triumvirate counterparts, this is
a strong statement, highlighting the problems Antony has caused. I do
believe that there is much more depth to Antony’s self in Egypt,
however it seems at essence he is a different man.
The theme of Antony being a ‘fallen hero’ almost, is a reoccurring
one, and interestingly happens only with the involvement of the
Romans. The Egyptians never regard his presence in Egypt as “dotage”
or giving “a kingdom for a mirth”. We first become aware ...
... middle of paper ...
...ptian presentation that Antony
becomes a much deeper character than his Roman counter-parts. They all
are presented as men with a singular occupation, to which they remain.
They seem almost two-dimensional in comparison to Antony- he is a
triumvirate, lover to the Queen of Egypt, head of a mighty army. He
switches between madly loving Cleopatra, and despising her existence.
Antony is at conflict. In contrast, none of the Roman characters are.
Shakespeare presents Antony, very much as a man at conflict. He is at
conflict with himself, and the battles are fought inside him, his very
self is in turmoil. Shakespeare makes very clear throughout the play,
that Antony’s stay in Egypt and relationship is somewhat
controversial. Antony’s conflict comes about from two opposite aspects
of Antony’s character, love and duty.