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How much does Antony's love for Cleopatra contribute to his downfall?

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Introduction

How much does Antony's love for Cleopatra contribute to his downfall? Throughout the play, Antony grapples with the conflict between his love for Cleopatra and his duties to the Roman Empire. In his opening lines to Demetrius, Philo complains that Antony has abandoned the military endeavours on which his reputation is based for Cleopatra's sake. His criticism of Antony's "dotage," or stupidity, introduces a tension between reason and emotion that runs throughout the play. Antony and Cleopatra's first exchange heightens this tension, as they argue whether their love can be put into words and understood or whether it exceeds such faculties and boundaries of reason. Shakespeare has mainly concentrated with the battle between reason and emotion, rather than the triumph of one over the other. Antony vacillates between Western and Eastern sensibilities, feeling pulled by both his duty to the empire and his desire for pleasure, his want for military glory and his passion for Cleopatra. Enobarbus' speech in Act 2 sc. 2 tells the audience of Antony and Cleopatra's first encounter. Shakespeare uses simile after simile and plenty of metaphors as well for example, "like a burnished throne/the poop was beaten gold." ...read more.

Middle

The fact that Antony can change from a man deep in self pity, "despair" and regret from following Cleopatra from the battle, to a man who has forgiven from one kiss, shows the overpowering enchanted hold Cleopatra has on him. Cleopatra in defence of her actions, tries to sway Antony by saying, "I little thought you would have followed," when she knew very well how much Antony loves her, and that he would do whatever she did. "Give me a kiss. Even this repays me," shows his weakness to her. The start of Antony's decline comes in Act 3 sc. 13 when he says to Cleopatra, "Alack, our terrene moon is now eclipsed and it portends alone the fall of Antony," and he says this in a very melancholy way. His language is foreshadowing what is to come because, not to his knowledge at this time, he does die first out of the two. The word "Cold" appears several times in this scene to reiterate the fact that he is so miserable and unhappy. In the whole of Act 4, Antony seems to be more determined than he has been throughout the play, and this determination to win what he sees as his last battle, means that he also becomes more emotive in what ...read more.

Conclusion

Cleopatra, amongst all her dishonesty, did not believe that he would take his own life and react in the way that he did. It is because of Antony's death that Cleopatra decides to do the same, "after the high Roman fashion and make death proud to take us," showing that she wants both hers and Antony's death to be seen as honourable in Roman eyes. Caesar's reaction to his death is one of remembrance of his greatness. The language used is much like that of at the start of the play when he is talking with Lepidus. Cleopatra, at the end, wants to die in a painless way and so sends for some asps, which have poisonous venom. She gets herself dressed in her best clothes so that she looks nice for her Antony. Her jealousy is shown when she thinks that because Iras died first, she would be able to get to Antony before her, "If she first meet the Curled Antony, he'll make demand of her, and spend that kiss which is my heaven to have," and with that she applies an asp to her breast, beginning the death process. I feel that Cleopatra's manipulation and decption help Antony in his downfall, but there were other key elements such as his situation with Rome and the other triumvirs. Stefanie Purdy L6i ...read more.

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