Essay on the Love Story of Antony and Cleopatra

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The Love Story of Antony and Cleopatra The tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra can be said to have an overall effect of comical lightness. In this way, it is altogether different from the preceding tragedies, although the tragedy that leads to the death and destruction of Antony and Cleopatra is definitely a matter of choice rather than of circumstances that engulf the hero. Yet, ultimately their tragic ending differs greatly from the ominous feeling of those that preceded it. Antony and Cleopatra concerns itself with typically distressing and grave imagery, most importantly the theme of permanent loss. Although circumstance plays a part, the tragic hero is damned by what he himself does and is an active participant in his own downfall. In this sense, Antony is a tragic hero, although Shakespeare also presents him as a man torn between the tragedy of a powerful Rome and comedy in the pleasurable Egypt. In due course Antony could not sustain his duty to Rome, confused by his unwillingness and incapability to disregard his passion for Cleopatra. He most flippantly wed Octavia knowing fully that he could not give up his prior love. He relayed "I will to Egypt: And though I make this marriage for my peace, I’ th’ East my pleasure lies" (2.3.39-41). His underestimation of consequence at this time directly led to his tragic ending. In a conversation about Cleopatra, even Antony’s attendant Enobarbus showed understanding of Antony’s character flaws and the depth of his passions: MAECENAS. Now Antony must leave her utterly. ENOBARBUS. Never; he will not. (2.2.239-240) The virtue of irremediable loss was also explored by Antony. His deficiency of true Roman character during the Battle of Actium resulted in h... ... middle of paper ... ...t love story with an ironically happy conclusion. Works Cited and Consulted Adelman, Janet. "Infinite Variety: Uncertainty and Judgment in Antony and Cleopatra." William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1988, 21-34. Bloom, Harold, ed. Introduction. Modern Critical Interpretations: William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. ---. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead Books, 1998. Kittredge, George Lyman. Introduction. Antony and Cleopatra. By William Shakespeare. Waltham, MA: Blaisdell Publishing Company, 1966. Markels, Julian. The Pillar of the World: Antony and Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Development. Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1968. Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. John Wilders. London: Routledge, 1995.
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