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How does Shakespeare capture the audiences' attention at the outset of the play?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare capture the audiences' attention at the outset of the play? Shakespeare probably completed Anthony and Cleopatra towards the end of 1606 or early in 1607, after he had finished Macbeth and before he embarked on Coriolanus. Shakespeare, when writing the opening scene was very aware that he had to capture the audience's attention and interest therefore he opens with a Roman point of view "Nay, but this dotage of our general's overflows the measure," although the play is set in Alexandria Egypt. This will capture the audiences attention because they will be curious to why a roman soldier would be in Egypt. The opening presents the audience with Roman disapproval preparing us for the play later on, which is a miniature version of the whole story. Cleopatra and Anthony lead their lives in public everybody knows everything about their relationship and is often the most talked about subject by the servants, who help bring the plot along. ...read more.

Middle

This is shown in the language used between them. "If it be love indeed, tell me how much?" Anthony and Cleopatra is not a straightforward love story as some people might first think. The outside world is causing problems i.e. Rome, who send messengers who are symbolic of intervention, they will eventually destroy their relationship. They are always sent away and neglected by Anthony. The audience will question his responsibilities as he puts pleasure before his duties. The outset of the play helps the audience establish the relationship between Anthony and Cleopatra. The language used, by Anthony and Cleopatra is often beautiful, extravagant, exalted and implicit in that there is a grand passion some sordid lust "Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth." Both Anthony and Cleopatra speak in poetry whereas other characters seem to speak normal. ...read more.

Conclusion

I seem the fool." When Cleopatra is mocking Anthony I think that it is her way of testing him to see if loyal "Fulvia perchance is angry, or who knows." In conclusion from the opening scene we get the strong antithesis between the two countries involved in this play, Egypt and Rome. In Rome they have to deal with soldiers, rules, regulations, order and politics. Whereas in Egypt there is pleasure and Freedom, which Shakespeare forces Anthony to chose between. The constant reference to sex will also attract the audience's attention as they might hope that the play is explicit. The story is also captivating. People will want to know how the story turns out although they could probably guess that it ends in a tragedy. I think that if the play was performed on stage then there would be lots of bright colours and gold, which would have also attracted the audiences attention. ...read more.

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