Antony and Cleopatra
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Text Analysis of “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare
Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most dramatic and complex plays ever written by Shakespeare. Critics see Cleopatra as a histrionic woman who is always looking to get what she wants. Antony, on the other hand, is depicted as a tragic hero who is divided between his willing to appease Cleopatra’s appetites and his duties to Rome. In this essay, we shall analyze the behaviors of Antony and Cleopatra in the Shakespeare’s play. Is Antony a fool, and Cleopatra a whore, as the critics depict them or are the characters something else? In this essay, we shall analyze the characters and share our thoughts. However do a thorough analysis, we shall examine both characters separately.
Concerning Antony, we can say that he is a broken man torn by his affections. On one hand, Cleopatra, the woman he loves. On the other, Rome, his homeland. “Let Rome in Tiber melt, / and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall! / Here is my space.” (Shakespeare I, 1). As we can see, the man is torn between whom he loves, and what he must do. In the same way, since he won his position by defeating Caesar, and Brutus, he knows his enemies can defeat him as well. Antony is concerned that he could have lost his honor since the moment he meddled with the Egyptian queen. The greatest concern of Antony is having lost his honor, and betraying his country. “Let your best love draw to that point, which seeks/ Best to preserve it: if I lose mine honour, / I lose myself: better I were not yours” (I, 4). Ultimately, Antony is not capable to make amends with himself and his torn identity. If he returned to Rome, he would be killed, or tried. Instead, he chose to die by his hand in Egypt, with the woman he loved. By committing suicide, Antony can restore his stained honor, and become a Roman again.
Regarding Cleopatra, she is presented as a foreign ruler and a decadent woman. She is the cause of Antony’s deception, and that is how everyone sees her. An enchantress, a queen. That is how the play depicts Cleopatra “Fie, wrangling queen! / Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh, / To weep; whose every passion fully strives” (I, 1). Nevertheless, that is a Roman perspective. By looking her like a whore, we would be losing a greater amount of the character. When looked on carefully, we can see that Cleopatra embodies all the virtues and defects. On one side, she is a passionate woman, struck by a set of circumstances she did not choose. On the other hand we see a fierce queen trying to protect her kingdom from the Roman hands. To confine Cleopatra solely to the sides of her behavior would be forgetting that she is a Queen, and looking her through the Roman’s looking glass. However, we must not forget that this play is about love and that it was love what made both Cleopatra, and Antony behave that way. “Why should I think you can be mine and true, / Though you in swearing shake the throned gods, /Who have been false to Fulvia?” (I, 3). Ultimately, Cleopatra’s decisions were those of a woman in love. Moreover, although she intended to betray Antony in exchange for her life; in the end she did not. She understood that Antony was the only thing she had left, her kingdom was destroyed, and all her ambitions were worthless.
As we can see, neither Mark was a fool nor Cleopatra was a whore, love just buffeted them with its gusts. Behind all the political overtones; treachery and treason, lied love, and it was because of love that Antony and Cleopatra decided to end their lives together as a couple.
Shakespeare, W. “Antony and Cleopatra: Entire Play.” Antony and Cleopatra: Entire Play. Web.