• 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...


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.


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.


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. Free essay

    Antony and Cleopatra

    Caesar exalts Cleopatra in her death stating that there will be 'high order in this solemnity' and his admiration is evident through his action that 'Our army shall/in solemn show attend this funeral.'

  2. Examine the contrast between Cleopatra and Octavia. How do they embody different aspects of ...

    Even when she is torn between the two men she cares most fore: Antony and Ocatvius; and Antony has told her to chose between the two of them: 'can never be so equal that your love can equally move with provide your going; choose your own company, and command what cost your heart has mind to' (3.4.35-39)

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

    This point is further emphasised when towards the end of the play, just before Cleopatra commits suicide, she claims that she has 'immortal longings in [her]'. Cleopatra and her women 'heave Antony aloft to Cleopatra'. This could be a visual display of how their love elevates them or even provides

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

    dismisses his opinion by saying 'Sink Rome, and their tongues rot that speak against us'. This scene also contains the only incidence of Cleopatra lacking sexual awareness, not recognizing the euphemism provided by Enobarbus that to have stallions and mares serving together in war invites disaster, as the stallions will

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

    The play is structured into two halves, the first is of Antony's desire to escape from the grip of 'Egypt' and therefore Cleopatra. Portrayal of their relationship draws a very negative picture of Cleopatra from the outset. The audience is informed of Antony's inappropriate behaviour, the head of a large army and great ruler being controlled by a woman.


    (Antony and Cleopatra, I, 1, lines XXXV-XXXVI). Antony's declaration effectively rejects his duties for the state and embraces Cleopatra's passion. However, in the very next scene Antony contradicts these unexpected sentiments by expressing guilt over neglecting his stately duties. Throughout the remainder of the play, Antony vacillates between his passion for Cleopatra and his love for the Roman Empire.

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

    While he is there he publicly announces that he is giving certain countries to his sons, which is very humiliating to Caesar. Antony will know that this will upset Caesar so this shows Antony being very provoking. During the lead up to the war between Antony and Caesar, Antony and

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

    The audience is made visible of Antony?s ensnarement into the ?Egyptian fetters? which he realises he must break if he wants to ever return with honour into the presence of the other triumvirs. It is not only her ability to form unbreakable shackles around her victims but also the consequent

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