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Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Mark Antony in Act1 of Antony and Cleopatra

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Introduction

Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Mark Antony in Act 1 of Antony and Cleopatra The setting of the play Antony and Cleopatra is introduced with a world that is ruled by the Romans due to their final break-through of conquering Egypt. Rome is a place where order is the main factor of importance whilst Egypt is a country of culture, art and riches. The difference between these two cultures is an exact parallel between Elizabethan and modern time where Shakespeare portrays the nostalgia for the old conventions of the Elizabethan times. The earth is supported by three pillars also known as the triumvirate. The triumvirate is a group of three male leaders that rule the earth consisting of Mark Antony, Lepidus and Octavius Caesar. Antony, through recognition of his history, has already been established as a character of power and intelligence. Antony, being classified as an orator, used his skills in speech to receive the crowd's support 'friends, countrymen, lend me your ears' and successfully succeeded in persuading the crowd to conspire against Brutus. Antony is therefore also seen as a hero because he was able to kill Brutus, the murderer of Julius Caesar. Although Shakespeare portrays Antony as a powerful man, it can be argued that Shakespeare also establishes Antony's flaw in character which is his love for Cleopatra. Shakespeare presents Antony through the use of dialogue, symbolism and context. First of all, Shakespeare directly portrays Antony as masculine character through the simple convention of the meaning of the name 'Antony', which means battles. ...read more.

Middle

Because Enobarbus is seen as a righteous and honest character, the audience is likely to agree with his opinions that 'her (Cleopatra's) passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love.' Shakespeare conveys the image of Antony being indecisive. At the beginning of Act 1 Antony chooses to neglect the news from Rome in order to remain in Alexandria stating 'let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch of the ranged empire fall' a statement that may reflect that of a traitor from a Roman perspective. However, further on in Act 1 he wants to break off the relationship between himself and Cleopatra because he feels that his duties are more important. This change in opinion is triggered by the problems that have arisen in his absence - his wife's death, the crowd going against Caesar because they are beginning to support Pompeius and therefore Pompeius gaining power. Antony's change of mind to return to Rome may be considered as an act to establish the image that the love he feels for Cleopatra is not real and/or strong enough for him to remain in Alexandria. He places Cleopatra second to Rome in his list of importance. On the other hand, in modern context, Shakespeare may use this event to portray the stereotypical male view of society. It is often said that women use their right, more emotional side of their brain whilst men use their left, more logical side of their brain. ...read more.

Conclusion

as it would be most likely that Caesar and Lepidus disapprove because Cleopatra cannot own a part of the world that is supposed to be ruled by the triumvirate. Although Antony is partially blinded by love, he does not fit the profile of containing the extreme characteristic of being emotional. He retains his logic by leaving Cleopatra in Alexandria to go to Rome. As a matter of fact it is Cleopatra who is the extreme emotional character whilst Caesar is the extreme logical character. Antony, on the other hand, is caught in the middle between these two extremes resulting in conflict. Shakespeare chooses to experiment with the concept of Elizabethan times that the best person is half way between two extremes thus suggesting that Antony is a more interesting character. In conclusion, through Shakespeare use of dialogue, symbolism and context he presents Antony as a character with immense strength yet one that encompasses a flaw, which is a vital convention used for the protagonist within a tragic drama as it results in conflict, a necessary principle to keep a drama interesting 'no conflict, no drama'. Antony is portrayed as the interesting character that is caught in between two extremes - Cleopatra and Caesar. Cleopatra represents Antony's emotions and present pleasure whilst Caesar represents Antony's logic and responsibility for ruling the world. It is therefore inevitable that Antony will have to someday choose between the two extremes - the necessity of having to make a choice between the two extremes represents that emotions and logic are incompatible. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Rachel Groeneveld 1 ...read more.

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