• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare explore the relationship between man and woman in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’? Examine how both a Jacobean audience and a contemporary audience would respond to these relationships

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shakespeare explore the relationship between man and woman in 'Antony and Cleopatra'? Examine how both a Jacobean audience and a contemporary audience would respond to these relationships The interesting thing about the play 'Antony and Cleopatra' is that it touches on issues that are as relevant now as they were in Jacobean times. The issues of forbidden love, of honour and privilege, of the right to give everything up for the one you love. Modern films pull in thousands of pounds at the box office dealing with these subjects, many of which are pathetically inferior to Shakespeare's play. They fail to inject his passion, his intensity or his wit and yet Shakespeare is much overlooked today. Keeping this in mind, I intend to examine how the relationship between the two sexes is explored by Shakespeare and how he makes the play vigorous and enthralling by manipulating this relationship. Also I hope to discover how relevant 'Antony and Cleopatra' is to the modern audience and how, if it is somewhat shocking and ground-breaking in today's society, must it have been received in Jacobean times. The basic relationship between man and woman in the play is, of course, the affair of Antony and Cleopatra. This is rightly so, for none of the other dalliances between the sexes are as varied and complex as theirs. ...read more.

Middle

She is beautiful and virtuous and everything Antony needs in a wife. But he cannot and will not love her. He will 'to his Egyptian dish again'- he cannot get enough of Cleopatra. Enobarbus is a useful tool in the play, as he provides us with an inside running commentary. He is known for speaking the truth and does so when describing Cleopatra. "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety" Octavia may be virtuous and beautiful and charming but Cleopatra is exciting and enchanting and enthralling. She is the only woman ever to grip Antony's heart and not let go, she is his match and because of this there is never going to be another woman for him, nor, consequently, will she ever be able to do without him. In Elizabeth Wurtzel's 'Bitch' she says of Cleopatra "her charisma came from a deeper well within, then her weapon is her allure". Cleopatra, using her metaphorical net of charm and glamour and allure, caught Antony and stopped his escape. In the Jacobean era, Antony and Cleopatra must have been shocking. The thought that a woman could have that kind of control over a Triumvir, a man of explosive power and privilege, was outrageous. ...read more.

Conclusion

She so lovelorn, she remarks she will send messages every day or 'unpeople Egypt'. And in the end, of course, she kills herself because Antony is dead. I think this adds a certain vulnerability to Cleopatra's character- it makes her seems less harsh, less manipulative. "Go to the fellow, good Alexas bid him Report the features of Octavia: her years, Her inclination, let him not leave out, The colour of her hair. Bring me word quickly." We gain a little understanding as to why she is the way she is, why she resorts to such dirty tricks to woo Antony. She is extremely weak underneath her toughened exterior, which is why she can't just have Antony love her- he has to be completely defeated by her. Thus she fits well into the 'Jacobean hero' role, tying in with her masculine role in the relationship. Thus, 'Antony and Cleopatra' is still as relevant today as it was then because until women have reached the 'better' stage, Cleopatra will always be a template. 'Antony and Cleopatra' is many things but it basely a love story and concentrates on the repercussions of love. Shakespeare uses the basic relationship between man and woman and creates a story so brilliant that it has lasted to this day, where it still has an affect on the audience. At the start of the play Antony proclaims to his love Cleopatra, "We stand up peerless' and I believe he is right. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Antony and Cleopatra section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Antony and Cleopatra essays

  1. "A better title for this play would be 'Cleopatra and Antony' because Cleopatra is ...

    This makes everyone close to Antony doubt his future, "this dotage of our general's / O'erflows the measure." This is one of many subtle hints to the imminent doom and Cleopatra's power. The second half picks up pace, no longer following, as closely, the relationship of Antony and Cleopatra but

  2. Antony is often talked of as a tragic hero, a great and admiral man ...

    This is him saying that he turned from fear and love. The audience also find out here that Antony is very ashamed of what he has done as he also says to his men "I have a ship laden with gold; Take that; divide it.

  1. Essentially Antony and Cleopatra is a story of power politics; its theme is not ...

    However, later in the play, Caesar imprisons Lepidus and has him killed. Caesar manufactures charges against Lepidus, whom he tells Agrippa and Maecenas has 'grown too cruel', to justify his actions. However, primarily, the audience sees Caesar as an attractive character that embodies the values of empire and even as an attractive character.

  2. Free essay

    Antony and Cleopatra

    We are allowed to see her theatrical side when she says 'I faint! O Iras, Charmain!' Even though Antony has now married for political reasons his soldiers are sure that he will return once again to his 'Egyptian dish.' Even when Antony is far from Cleopatra, she exerts her magic influence over him.

  1. Explore Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra

    of the hyperbolic language he had used when he first wooed her, describing the timeless beauty of her face by declaring 'eternity was in our lips and eyes, bliss in our brows bent', and her divine origin, with the words 'none our parts so poor but was a race of heaven.'

  2. OPPOSITIONAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.

    This characterization is immediately attacked in the play's opening scene. Here, Antony abandons the cold, calculating rationalism of warfare and declares that he will love Cleopatra through all obstacles, even if that means letting, "Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch/ Of the ranged empire fall!"

  1. Write a concise account of the history of the Lutheran passion up to Bach's ...

    The John passion text is that of the Gospel story of John Chapters 18 and 19, with the earthquake scene added from the Gospel of Matthew and lines from the Passion poem by Brockes were used for lyrical parts such as arie.

  2. Cleopatra is always at a significant disadvantage as a woman in a male-dominated world. ...

    The contemporary audience would have undoubtedly been shocked to hear a man of such nobility and power to easily withdraw from his origins in Rome and closer into the arms of the temptress. It was her ability as a dramatist who would oscillate from one emotional extreme to the other

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work