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Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra in the play 'Antony and Cleopatra'

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Introduction

Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra in the play 'Antony and Cleopatra' 'A woman of infinite variety'. This may be a very accurate portrayal of Cleopatra in my opinion. Cleopatra is a very interesting character in Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra'. She is presented in many ways; she is a great lover yet childish within her actions. Her actions are a reflection of her personality and shows how her character develops throughout the play. She goes from childish to suffering her consequences of this. The presentation of Cleopatra contributes to the play's audiences and the things she does are a reflection of her love for Antony. Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra helps to make her a credible character and helps audience to relate to her actions taken. An aspect of Cleopatra's presentation is when she is with and without Antony. It is noticeable how her actions change, with the juxtaposition of scenes where she is in Egypt without Antony. Without him, we see her as a woman in love. She spends hours wondering where her beloved Antony is and what is he doing. She often ponders if he is thinking of her. She is infatuated with him. She can't bear to be apart from him. This is shown in act 1 scene 5 when Cleopatra asks to drink 'mandragora'. This is a type of sleeping drug. ...read more.

Middle

By comparing her to a Goddess this shows her influence upon people. Shakespeare's barge speech gives the impression of her charm and attraction, to enhance her enticement and sex appeal towards men. In the last scene where Cleopatra kills herself she want to die wearing all her jewels and fine cloths and crown. This is to show how proud she is of herself and for people to remember her as a queen. Even when she is dead Charmian straightens up her crown. This shows the loyalty of Cleopatra's woman and their love for her such that they want Cleopatra to look her best even in death. In this play suicide is perceived as a very honourable act. Therefore this must mean Cleopatra is also honourable as in the last act she poisons her self with asps rather than be paraded in front of the Romans by Caesar. This is an example of how proud she is. Cleopatra realises that her childish games have resulted in the loss of Antony; this is what drives her to suicide. This scene shows many things; it shows us how she is so in love with Antony she cannot bear to live without him. Although she is still seen as a jealous woman in this as one of her women, Iras kills herself before Cleopatra. ...read more.

Conclusion

'These hands do lack nobility,' this is the closes to an apology from Cleopatra. This scene leads to Cleopatra wanting to know more about Octavia and her appearance. We see her as a very jealous character but who could blame her? This jealous characteristic brings realism to the situation, which real people can relate to. The messenger describes Octavia in a way, which pleases Cleopatra. Despite her feelings or rage and jealousy the audience have an insight to what I believe are her true feelings for Antony. Octavia is used for many reasons; to show that Caesar has the capability to love and to form an alliance between Antony and Cleopatra. In my opinion Octavia used to show Cleopatra's feelings for Antony, and to show a contrast between her and Cleopatra. She is everything Cleopatra isn't. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it shows the contrasting worlds of Rome and Egypt. It may be to show how Cleopatra is and how she is unique and there is no one like her. Shakespeare obviously wants to show how Cleopatra stands out from everyone else. In my opinion 'Antony and Cleopatra' is a play of one woman's love and all the emotions and actions involved with this emotion. The presentation of Cleopatra shows her struggle to overcome her jealousy, selfishness and childish qualities to be with Antony, even though she has to commit suicide to achieve this. Shakespeare uses Cleopatra to show the desperate lengths people will go to. ...read more.

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3 star(s)

The essay makes a range of valid points, but these are undermined by weaknesses in expression and punctuation. Candidates who find expressing their ideas difficult may be helped by reading their essay aloud, either to themselves or to a sympathetic listener, who will stop them at any point where meaning is not
clear.
In addition careful thought should be given to how to structure an essay logically.
***

Marked by teacher Val Shore 01/01/2012

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