William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

Length: 2224 words (6.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra


Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is aptly named, not just because the play centers around these two characters, but also because it encompasses the play’s fixation on the lovers’ oppositional relationship. On the surface level, Antony embodies the Roman ideals of a good, noble man, while Cleopatra represents the hyper-sexualized, dangerous Eastern woman. However, upon further examination both Antony and Cleopatra display complicated internal conflicts that effectively reverse these polar positions repeatedly throughout the play. In this way, the opposition between Antony and Cleopatra that exists on a simple, interpersonal level is echoed by more complicated, internal conflicts within each of these characters on a deeper, more individual level. The tension between the title characters creates the love that draws them together at the same time as it drives them further apart, thus establishing yet another layer of antagonistic relationships within the play. The importance of these oppositional relationships is underlined most starkly in Act II.2. In particular Enobarbus’ speech describing Cleopatra’s beauty functions as one of the greatest statements of the play’s conflicting themes. This speech reflects the antagonistic nature of the play’s central relationships through the invocation of equivalent antagonistic relationships between the violent descriptors used to depict Cleopatra.

Throughout the play, Shakespeare establishes a love-hate relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. In doing so, there are times when the lovers are characterized as stark opposites of each other as well as instances where these characterizations are reversed. The Romans, represented b...


... middle of paper ...


...defining Antony and Cleopatra’s equally oppositional relationship. The battles within her reflect Antony’s personal struggles, as well as the greater wars within their relationship. Thus, the dualities within Enobarbus’ speech reflect the oppositional relationships both within the play as a whole and within the greater context of Act II.ii. Antony and Cleopatra struggle to define themselves on intra- and inter-personal levels as well as within the greater societal sphere. Ultimately, they can never fully resolve the polar oppositions that exist both within and between them. This results in the physical and emotional violence that is both reflected and predicted in Enobarbus’ speech.


Work Cited

“Beggared”. Oxford English Dictionary. http://dictionary.oed.com/ Accessed 10/17/05
Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

- William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is aptly named, not just because the play centers around these two characters, but also because it encompasses the play’s fixation on the lovers’ oppositional relationship. On the surface level, Antony embodies the Roman ideals of a good, noble man, while Cleopatra represents the hyper-sexualized, dangerous Eastern woman. However, upon further examination both Antony and Cleopatra display complicated internal conflicts that effectively reverse these polar positions repeatedly throughout the play....   [tags: Shakespeare Antony Cleopatra Essays]

Term Papers
2224 words (6.4 pages)

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

- William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra “The triple pillar of the world transformed/Into a strumpet’s fool. Behold and see” (I.1.12). “I have eyes upon him” (III.6.61). Shakespeare’s Antony invites speculation and a greedy voyerism that can only be instigated by a protagonist who, despite perpetually being at the centre of discussion, manages to elude classification.This impression of opacity of character is enhanced by the fact that his own idea of himself and of his uncontrollable infatuation with Cleopatra is constantly mutating....   [tags: Shakespeare Antony Cleopatra Essays]

Term Papers
2002 words (5.7 pages)

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

- William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra “Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet” – Camille Paglia The prim and proper women and the strong and strapping men are no match for Shakespeare’s haze of character’s muddled together in Antony and Cleopatra. As always Shakespeare delivers a luminary cast of individuals that deviate from the socially accepted gender roles. As the audience works its way through the fierce genesis to the catastrophic resolution, it is made more than apparent that lines are being crossed all over society’s conformist board of gender specific expectations....   [tags: Shakespeare Antony Cleopatra Essays]

Term Papers
1016 words (2.9 pages)

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Essay

- Throughout Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, readers are constantly thrown in the middle of a battle between Roman and Egyptian values. Antony, a noble warrior for the Romans, is the character that seems to have the most trouble between this dichotomy. He is constantly caught between reason (Rome) and passion (Egypt) and has a difficult time making the transitions. Cleopatra is the character that stays most true to her roots, but begins adopting the other side’s values toward the end of the story....   [tags: roman and egyptian values, characters]

Term Papers
961 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

- Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra is a play in which the balance of power swings interestingly between two lovers. It is set in the First Century BC between Rome and Egypt. Antony is one of the three members of the second triumvirate who jointly rule the Roman Empire. Antony is the eponymous tragic hero, who allows his love for Cleopatra to cloud his judgement. According to Aristotle this is hamartia, an error of judgment caused by fate. This leads to his downfall....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
1197 words (3.4 pages)

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Essay

- 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....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
1692 words (4.8 pages)

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare Essay

- Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, the presentation and development of the relationships among the triumvirs, Caesar, Antony and Lepidus becomes a pivotal concern. As the play progresses, the dynamics of the triumvirate changes and becomes more complicated, providing the audience with the main political conflict that sometimes overshadows the romance of the title characters in the play. Shakespeare provides the audience with several different images of the triumvirate through different characters....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
1746 words (5 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

- William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Throughout the play, Antony grapples with the conflict between his love for Cleopatra and his duties to the Roman Empire. In his opening lines to Demetrius, Philo complains that Antony has abandoned the military endeavours on which his reputation is based for Cleopatra's sake. His criticism of Antony's "dotage," or stupidity, introduces a tension between reason and emotion that runs throughout the play. Antony and Cleopatra's first exchange heightens this tension, as they argue whether their love can be put into words and understood or whether it exceeds such faculties and boundaries of reason....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
951 words (2.7 pages)

William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

- William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra In the play Antony and Cleopatra, the character of Cleopatra is one of many dimensions and be seen a person of complex diversity. Her personality is mainly about taking life as one big celebration most of her time in Egypt....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
1593 words (4.6 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

- William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra While Mark Antony is a great general, one of the three triumvant, it is indeed impossible to feel sympathy for him in his extreme "dotage" for Cleopatra. He "fishes, drinks and wastes the lamps of night in revel", hence destroying his own reputation, and even losing his masculinity, and thus, respect. In the opening scene of the play, even before Antony appears, he is constituted by the ideological structure of the Roman world....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
876 words (2.5 pages)