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Discuss the presentation of Cleopatra presented in Act 1

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Introduction

Discuss the presentation of Cleopatra presented in Act 1 In act 1 in Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra is presented as a dominant, sexually veracious, dramatic character that is totally besotted with Antony and wants to know everything about him when he is not around him. She comes across as a very complex character that seems to show a state of ambivalence that is of love and hate, by poking fun at and belittling Antony when he is present, but constantly wandering about him when he is gone even to the point of her conjuring up an image of him. It is apparent that one of Cleopatra's characteristics is her dominance and especially the dominance she holds over Antony. In their first exchange she illustrates herself to be the more dominant entity verbally compared to Antony. She forces Antony to keep on complimenting her by saying how much he loves her: "there's beggary in the love that can be reckoned...then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth [for his love]". From this short conversation, Cleopatra's dominance is illustrated by how she controls it: "if it be love indeed, tell me how much", showing that she is in total control even so much as by saying that she will tell him how much to love her: "I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved". ...read more.

Middle

The vulgar language which includes: "cut...case...smock...cunning" which refer to the sexual genitals, illustrates that Shakespeare did this for the everyman, and the poorer less intelligent audience. In this scene she is described as "cunning past man's thought", which suggests she is manipulative and cunning but also it's a sexually explicit term in Shakespearean literature. Further sexual jesting goes on saying that "she hath such a celerity in dying", which reiterates the idea of her being sexually hungry. In act 1 Egyptians are seen as passionate and Cleopatra optimizes this when she talks to Charmain. Charmain describes her old flame, Caesar, as: "Brave..." and she is corrected by Cleopatra to say: "brave Antony" instead, however Charmain simply says that she is only copying her: "I sing but after you", which shows she was equally obsessed with Caesar as she is with Antony, testifying her passionate nature. Cleopatra in Act 1 is also presented as a woman who absolutely adores Antony and one who although is rude to him when he is there; she misses him when he is gone. When he is absent she is so infatuated with him that she always wants to know everything about him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her dramatic being resurfaces later on, in scene 2, when she says: "I am sick and sullen...help me away, dear Charmain! I shall fall..." at the sight of Antony and also in scene 5 in the exchange between her and Alexas: "Note him...note him...note him", suggesting that the triple "note him" adds to the idea that there is evidence of theatrical conciseness, and highlights the dramatic nature of Cleopatra. The final characteristic of Cleopatra is the idea of mysticism. This is a current theme in the play and applies to Egypt but also to Cleopatra to an extent. She is described as a: "gipsy" and an "enchanting queen", which links to this idea but also to the fact that many felt she was keeping Antony almost under a spell and her antics are often described as: "witchcraft". The idea of her keeping Antony away from Rome is reiterated in Antony's words: "These strong Egyptian fetters I must break...", picturing Cleopatra as a temptress keeping Antony in Egypt rather that Rome neglecting his responsibilities as a leader. In conclusion Cleopatra is presented as a dominant typically passionately Egyptian women especially when loving Antony. She epitomizes Egypt and all that it stands for, that is: overindulgence, and a women who is presented as being very complicated when it comes to her feelings. ...read more.

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