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Explore the presentation and effects of love in Antony and Cleopatra.

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Introduction

Jonathan Azah A-level English-Unit 2 Shakespeare Explore the presentation and effects of love in Antony and Cleopatra Antony and Cleopatra is Shakespeare's peculiarly fluid and intimate historical retelling of the love tale of the Roman soldier, Mark Antony, and the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. The male protagonist, Antony, is a noble Roman soldier. That being so Shakespeare introduces him as having many cultural personality traits which in this play are affected, alongside with his judgement, by the love he feels for Cleopatra. From the outset of the play, the audience can see that Antony's judgment has been affected by love. This can be observed from the people in Antony's company. While it is obvious they regard him as a powerful figure they also disapprove of his relationship with Cleopatra. The audience can see this from Philo's description of Antony's "dotage" that "O'erflows the measure" (1, 1, 2)1. This shows that his obsession with Cleopatra surpasses a sensible level. Philo says that Antony's heart has "become the bellows and the fan/ To cool a gypsy's lust". (1, 1, 7-10)2 This shows that some of his former greatness has gone as he has been degraded to serving, what others see as a "gypsy". ...read more.

Middle

He appears to have taken on more Egyptian like traits. He is throwing away his "absolute soldiership" all because of love. This can clearly be seen when Enobarbus says: "Your ships are not well manned" (3,7,84)9 even though Antony and his army are stronger at land battles and are more likely to win on a land terrain he refuses to see sense, purely because his love Cleopatra also desires to fight at sea. The audience is more inclined to trust the word of Enobarbus, at this point, as it can be seen that his judgment has not been affected by love as he speaks with absolute sense. In addition to this it can be seen that Antony's judgement is so affected by Cleopatra that he has been blinded by love. However this can also be seen on another level. Antony refers to Cleopatra as "Thetis" (3, 7, 60)10. "Thetis" is a goddess of the ocean. This shows his true devotion to her and her judgement as he believes that she will protect him on the sea just like a goddess of the sea would. This shows that perhaps his decision was not made out of stupidity. The notion that Antony has been blinded by love is furthered when he says, "by sea, by sea" (3, 7, 40)11. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition to this Antony's judgment has been affected so much from his devotion to Cleopatra, that because he believes she's dead, he considers death as a constructive thing that will rekindle their love by bringing him to his "lover's bed" (4, 14, 101)18. This represents his complete devotion and is ironic as love is intended to create life not end it. Also Antony believes he is going to be a "bridegroom" (4, 14, 100)19 in death. This is a paradox as the unity of two people is considered a joyous occasion where as death is regarded as a depressing situation. During this scene Shakespeare uses numerous paradoxes: "For with a wound I must be cured" (4, 14, 77)20 this presents wit and humor to the audience even though it arises in a time of great seriousness. This helps grip the audience. Antony and Cleopatra is of the tragedy genre but Shakespeare has incorporated mild wit and humor to keep the audience interested. The play leaves the audience with a sympathetic view of Antony as it was his complete devotion to Cleopatra which led to his judgmental downfall which in turn led to his overall downfall. The lover's relationship was constructive and destructive and appears to portray the message that love comes at a price. For Antony this was firstly his precise judgment then his social status and ultimately his death. ...read more.

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