Opposites Attract in Antony and Cleopatra

Powerful Essays
Opposites Attract in Antony and Cleopatra

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is a play that is centred around a pair of historical lovers from two distinct cultures, Mark Antony from Rome and Queen Cleopatra from Egypt. The Roman and Egyptian cultures have vastly different norms and social ideas that are almost complete polar opposites in nature. These conflicting views are instrumental in the way that Cleopatra and Antony act. These two characters are so great in their respective societies that they serve as models to look to, although Antony may not be everybody's perfect vision of what a Roman should be. It is also important to look at not only what these two characters think of their cultures, but what cultural outsiders think as well. Through all of this, it will be shown how these primarily opposite cultures can function together, and bring together two of the most prominent lovers in all of Shakespeare, if not in all of recorded western history.

Cleopatra and Antony cannot be seen as average human beings. Never are they described in the same manner as Shakespeare would describe others in this play. "Each truly is all but everything in himself and herself, and knows it, and neither fears that he or she is really nothing in himself or herself, or nothing without the other" (Bloom, Modern Critical Interpretations 1). These two are magnificent and mighty characters, in very grand roles, both in this play and in history.

Antony, as one of the triumvirs, is much more than an individual Roman soldier. He is one of the three who hold the entire known world in a powerful authoritative grip. Antony, acknowledges the force and magnitude of his and Cleopatra's personalities when he sends a messa...

... middle of paper ..., 1988. 109-35.

Barton, Anne. "'Nature's Piece 'Gainst Fancy': The Divided Catastrophe in Antony and Cleopatra." Modern Critical Interpretations: William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. 35-55.

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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