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Cleopatra has been described as both an "enchanting Queen" and "triple-turned whore". Examine Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra and how a modern audience might respond to her.

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Introduction

Cleopatra has been described as both an "enchanting Queen" and "triple-turned whore". Examine Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra and how a modern audience might respond to her. In Antony and Cleopatra, written around 1606, according to Wells and Taylor, it is apparent that it is characterised by informality and decadence and this may be a reflection of the times. Audiences might have wanted or expected such things and the dramatist merely complied with current tastes. Drama was the prime means of public entertainment during Shakespeare's time. To go and watch a Shakespeare play was a form of escapism for his audiences. They escaped into another world and would be fascinated by the plays Shakespeare produced. Cleopatra was an especially fascinating character for the Jacobean audience because she was controversial, shocking and challenging. The Jacobean people were predominantly devout Catholics and Protestants, they wouldn't have practiced monogamy, adultery and more than one sexual partner would have been disgraceful. ...read more.

Middle

This would have been fascinating and astonishing for them. In the first three acts Shakespeare presents Cleopatra's character to fulfil the expectations of the Jacobean sterotype for her. The first act of the play opens with Philos, one of Antony's Romans addressing Demetrius, he talks of Antony's love for Cleopatra as being nothing more than a pointless infatuation which is damaging Antony's former greatness. Making it obvious that the Romans disapprove of Cleopatra, this is emphasised when Antony and Cleopatra enter, and he tells Demetrius to take note of "the triple pillar of the world transformed/into a strumpets fool". This gives the audience the immediate impression of the power Cleopatra has over Antony which is emphasised on several occasions throughout the play. Cleopatra is first shown to us in her court, provocative and teasing towards Antony, testing him already to see where his loyalties and affections lie: Where's Fulvia's process? ...read more.

Conclusion

But I feel it was also probably very satisfying to see. For once a woman was not only an equal but a superior and she manipulated a man to get her way. . 'Antony and Cleopatra' was successful because it was entertaining, because it was new and foreign. People didn't have to accept it because it was art, it was okay to enjoy this without worrying about how factual it was. Also this was a different culture. Cleopatra could be passed off as a foreigner without self control. She was not a threat because she was an Egyptian and did not endanger the English way of life. Actors on the Shakespearean stage were often youths. Boys with high-pitched voices were trained from early years to take women's parts, they were capable of playing the mature women since females were not allowed on Elizabethan stage, most difficult for a boy to play a mature, but still sexy woman such a Cleopatra. This technique was adopted for characters in Hamlet and Macbeth. ...read more.

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