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An exploration of Shakespeare's use of imagery in 'Antony and Cleopatra'

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Introduction

An exploration of Shakespeare's use of imagery in 'Antony and Cleopatra' In 'Antony and Cleopatra' Shakespeare uses a wide range of imagery. These forms of imagery includes: mythological characters, the elements, food and the lunar cycle. In this essay I will be exploring this imagery to suggest its intended purpose to display relationships, the Roman and Egyptian empires and power of the characters. Shakespeare compares Antony to Mars the god of War and Cleopatra to Venus. Shakespeare uses this type of imagery because the Elizabethan audience would have known the myths and legends that surround these gods. "Have glowed like plated Mars." This is how Philo introduces us to the play and Antony. Philo is a dramatic device that gives the audience a strong impression of how Romans viewed Antony. With this simile he is showing how Antony used to be a frightening and powerful figure. "Now bend now turn." The subject of this imagery is how he has changed his focus from military leadership to his private passion, Cleopatra and the life style of indulgence, which is essentially what Egypt represents in the play. ...read more.

Middle

The use of rich colours symbolises the royalty that surrounds her. Cleopatra is compared to Venus as Antony is compared to Mars. "O'erpictyring that Venus where we see The fancy out work nature." She is more beautiful than an artist's impression of Venus, which conveys to the audience again via Enobarbus just how beautiful she is. Throughout the play Enobarbus is the main source of imaginative language, as he is a dramatic device who offers an objective commentary. Shakespeare also uses decay imagery to show the break up of characters and relationships. "Sink Rome and let their tongues rot." This represents Cleopatra's resentment towards the Roman's at this point in the play. Cleopatra is commenting on how she does not care for the Roman's view of her. This is why Shakespeare uses the image of a tongue rotting because it conjures up an image of dirt and decay, which is how she views the Romans point of view. Shakespeare also uses decay when Antony and Cleopatra are arguing in 3.13 "Ah dear, if I be so, From my cold heart let heaven engender hail And poison it in the source, and the first stone... ...read more.

Conclusion

The moon represents Antony's character "Our terrene moon is now eclipsed And it portends alone the fall of Antony." Antony has now been eclipsed. He has come full cycle, risen and is now fallen. It is now Caesar's turn to rule. Shakespeare uses mythology, decay, food imagery and irony to convey to the audience how the characters and relationships have changed, how life styles and Roman and Egyptian priorities clash. He uses mythological imagery because the audience were familiar with them and also because he compares mortals to mythological characters with highly flamboyant characteristics. Such as Cleopatra's beauty and Antony's leadership qualities. Decay is a strong type of imagery that shows split and strong aggressive emotions of the characters. The irony gives the audience clues to how the play could end and gives the play an inventive twist. Enobarbus invites the characters and therefore the audience to make opinions and give us insight to the characters and their personalities. Shakespeare also uses elements as a form of imagery. Using elements and myths creates a very strong image of power. But this also links in with decay as well because most of the myths end in tragedy. This is aslo symbolic of Antony and Cleopatra's relationship. ...read more.

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