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Explore how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra.

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Introduction

English Literature: Shakespeare coursework Explore how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra The epic love affair of Antony and Cleopatra is a great and powerful love shared by two people at the height of their fame and glory, and it is Shakespeare's greatness to show Antony and Cleopatra in love, in the celebration of their love before disaster strikes, and after it has struck. There are many aspects to the way in which Shakespeare presents this relationship between these two characters. In Act One-scene 1, we first see Antony and Cleopatra together as Cleopatra challenges Antony to say how much he loves her, "if it be love indeed, tell me how much", Antony's reply, that his love is so great that it exceeds the boundaries of heaven and earth, is reinforced by his dismissal of the news from Rome. Antony uses extravagant, expansive statements to express the nature of his love. Shakespeare's use of extravagant and exaggerated figure of speech through the words of Antony, hyperbole, emphasizes the immensity of his passion. This example of Hyperbole is an example of how Shakespeare presents the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra, because it is through his language on this particular occasion that he expresses the love Antony has for Cleopatra. Other examples of exaggerated language that Shakespeare presents, such as Antony's heart having 'burst/ the buckles on his breast', and the simile that describes ...read more.

Middle

The imagery that Shakespeare presents us with through Antony's words of faithfulness, suggests that Antony is not just joined to her emotionally and spiritually, but physically, because his heart is tied to her 'rudder' and where her decisions and actions take her in life he shall be there with here to follow and be a part of them entirely. This is another way that Shakespeare presents Antony's and Cleopatra's relationship because through Anthony's words and the imagery, we realise the extent of Antony's love for Cleopatra. In Act Four-scene eight, the public and the personal selves of Antony and Cleopatra coexist harmoniously. Antony tenderly refers to Cleopatra as a 'great fairy, nightingale' and 'girl', while she affirms his status with 'Lord of lords'. For this moment, Antony is both the lover and the soldier, combining Egypt and Rome. The imagery that Shakespeare presents through Antony and Cleopatra's references to each other bring out their true feelings about each other at this time in the play. Antony refers to Cleopatra as a 'great fairy, nightingale' and 'girl', references that represent love and adoration. Cleopatra refers to Antony as 'Lord of lords', which represents the highest possible status and her love for him. Through Antony and Cleopatra's references to each other, the metaphors used, is another way in which Shakespeare presents the relationship between the two lovers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hyperbole is a method Shakespeare uses, for example, in Act One-scene 1 when Shakespeare uses hyperbole through Antony's words of passion for Cleopatra "then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth". Conceit is a method Shakespeare uses, for example, in Act One-scene three Cleopatra reminds Antony of the intensity of their love by saying "eternity was in our lips and eyes, bliss in our brows' bent; none our parts so poor but was a race of Heaven". An oxymoron is also used by Shakespeare to present the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra when Cleopatra uses the image of feeding on 'delicious poison' to express the mixture of pain and pleasure she experiences when thinking about the absent Antony. The main way in which Shakespeare presents the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra is through imagery, for example, in Act Three-scene ten Scarus describes Cleopatra as a 'cow' and Antony as a 'mallard', in Act Three-scene eleven Antony says, "my heart was to thy rudder tied by th'strings", in Act Four-scene fourteen Antony describes life without Cleopatra "the long day's task is done/and we must sleep" and in Act four-scene fifteen Cleopatra expresses here pain when Antony dies "o sun, burn the great sphere thou mov'st in" and "our lamp is spent". It is through Shakespeare's style and language that he can express Antony's and Cleopatra's true love and relationship in the play. ...read more.

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