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How does Shakespeare present the characters of Anthony and Cleopatra in act oneand how does he convey the contrasting worlds and values of Egypt and Rome?

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Introduction

Emma Dwyer Pg 1 5/7/2007 How does Shakespeare present the characters of Anthony and Cleopatra in act one and how does he convey the contrasting worlds and values of Egypt and Rome? The opulent backdrop of the palace at Alexandria provides Shakespeare, his readers and characters with the perfect scene with which to introduce a romance. For a romance it most certainly is, however at this junction it is apparent that all is not as blissful as it should be. The Roman Mark Anthony we understand to be the archetypal macho hero. Comparisons with the Greek God of war Mars are purposeful. After all he is '...the greatest solider of the world'. Certainly he comes across as the strength but also well mannered, quite the gentleman. ...read more.

Middle

Philo is speaking of Cleopatra in a very derogative way, showing Roman prejudice against Egyptians, 'tawny', meaning dark skinned. Pg 2 Anthony has fallen for a beautiful, exotic woman and he shouldn't have, and we soon discover that Rome is embarrassed by his indulgence, but as we as the audience warm to him the reason being because Shakespeare has brought to our attention a great bond between the couple. 'But stirr'd by Cleopatra. Now for the love of love and her soft hours, lets not confound the time with conference harsh. There's not a minute of our lives should stretch without some pleasure now. What sport tonight?' Caesar initiates that life in Alexandria is peppered with sin, he frowns upon Anthony's revelry, 'this is the news: he fishes, drinks and wastes the night time lamps with revel....' ...read more.

Conclusion

Rome being duty and Egypt being pleasure. As Anthony concerns himself with Roman affairs, his language becomes ever more formal and public. 'No more light answers. Let our officers have notice what we purpose.' This shows the formality of Rome in contrast to Egypt, Anthony's dialogue is far different earlier on 'Let Pg 3 Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch of the ranged empire fall!' In the first act there is also of imagery to describe the scene of Egypt, 'O'erflows the measure'. This is very much drink imagery which shows us that Egypt is very much about letting go and relaxing, drinking and having fun, enjoying the moment. There is also a good use of dramatic contrast between the two Anthony's, 'Have glowed like plated Mars' this being the Roman Anthony, the strong fighter , 'into a strumpets fool'. Meaning a prostitutes fool which refers to Anthony over Cleopatra in Egypt. ...read more.

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