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Antony & Cleopatra - language

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Introduction

In Act 1 scene 3 lines 13-56, what do we learn about Antony and Cleopatra's characters? In Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare uses rich, poetic language; this not only provides a source of visual pleasure for the audience as it is a play; but also acts as a means of defining the various characters, particularly Antony and Cleopatra, the protagonists. In the scene being analysed, the tone, hyperbole language and imagery gives the reader an insight into the characters as well as their affection for one another. 'If you find him sad, Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report'. From the outset of the scene, Cleopatra's language and tone of voice depicts her character to the reader as very clever, yet volatile with a bizarre lack of confidence, 'I shall fall' illustrates her dependence and need for stability and security. The melodrama also portrays her crave for attention, especially that from Antony, and her egotistic rush for power and recognition. The reader also perceives Antony as the eponymous, tragic hero, who is allowing his love for Cleopatra to cloud his judgement. His short rushed sentences, 'Now, my dearest queen' in reply to her demands reiterate this judgement of character, he is reassuring her, and trying to placate her as he doesn't want a scene. ...read more.

Middle

Cleopatra's words, 'eternity', 'bliss' etc demonstrate her love, passion and infatuation with Antony, and through her lyrical, almost poetic language, Shakespeare has clearly exposed this to the reader. The alliteration of 'bliss brows bent', has a rhythmical, peaceful sound and connotes and represents the love the two share. The two are also speaking in verse which implies what they are saying has a great level of importance which re-enforces their love and commitment toward one another. Cleopatra also states, 'Or thou, the greatest soldier of the world, Art turned the greatest liar'. This is reality creeping in however, as they are lost in a world of their own and the reader can infer therefore Antony must be neglecting her soldier duties to Rome and as one of the three triumvirs, which inevitably suggests the empire will collapse. 'Thou' however, contains an element of contempt, which could represent Cleopatra's disapproval of Antony's duality between her and his soldier responsibilities or just Rome in general. Antony's dialect re-enforces this and enables the reader to see this dramatic change in his character and priorities. 'The strong necessity of time commands Our services awhile, but my full heart Remains in use with you'. This is a vivid re-exertion of the human world and suggests he feels it is an obligation to return to Rome, yet his heart remains in Egypt. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is a lot of imagery in the passage, which portrays the characters in certain lights and represents the characters in symbolic ways. Egypt and Rome are two ongoing symbols that represent Cleopatra and Antony and thus from descriptions of the places and information about them, the reader gains knowledge on the characters and their personalities. Egypt is a place of mystery, strangeness, infinite possibilities; Rome of that which is fixed, known, predictable, calculable. Rome is aggressively male, Egypt seductively female. Antony in Egypt is seen from Rome as effeminate and Cleopatra appeals to (in both senses) and corresponds with a part of Antony, his anima, the feminine, sensitive, loving, creative side of his nature; a side utterly scorned by the values of Rome, values we have inherited. To conclude, Shakespeare uses language, imagery, tone etc as a device of characterization which is extremely effective. Through Cleopatra's and Antony's conversations, the reader can infer the juxtaposed characters personalities. The relationship and the power in the relationship is also portrayed through these devices and it is enigmatic as it is as if the reader is looking onto a situation that perhaps they have no right in doing so. Cleopatra is often given control of a situation as she is able to manipulate Antony through expressing her emotions, whereas Cleopatra is altering Antony and his responsibilities and she has the power to infatuate him. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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