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In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, why is Cleopatra such an enduring figure?

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Introduction

In Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, why is Cleopatra such an enduring figure? 'The Life of Marcus Antonius,' written by Plutarch, was the source used by Shakespeare to create the play of Antony and Cleopatra. Plutarch was a Greek, writing in the first century, and his work on 'The life of Marcus Antonius' was a reflection of the similar lives of the Greeks and Romans. He hints that, although he had accepted Rome as the ruler of Greece, he insisted Greece being a more sophisticated culture of the two. Reasons were because Plutarch gave his characters positive and negative attributes, emphasising more on their way of thinking, rather than their nationality. In doing this, Plutarch is seen to be able to be a fairer judge of character, as his eyes aren't hindered by a different culture or race. Using Plutarch's work, other writers were able to use his work, and were able to create more characters, in order to emphasise Cleopatra's influence and make her more dramatic in her actions. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare allows Cleopatra to have as big a part in the play as Antony, thus making Cleopatra a famous and unusual woman of her time. In this I mean that in the 19th century, the role of a woman was completely different to now, as women weren't seen, as Cleopatra is - powerful and influential. Cleopatra has great power over other people, through both her sexual tenacity and her fiery temperament. However, Cleopatra would be seen today as an ordinary woman, as women are now deemed as equals to men. This was not the case in the 19th century, as men played a larger part in society than women. To see a third of the largest empire in the world in the hands of a woman was impossible in the 19th century. This made Antony and Cleopatra almost scandalous to its Elizabethan audience, making it very interesting and desirable for its audience. ...read more.

Conclusion

This nature in Cleopatra is another reason for her endurance in the play. Cleopatra's sense of pride makes her an enduring figure. Although she knows that she will be ridiculed, she has the willpower not to become a trophy for Caesar, which he intends her to be. She lives up to this by nobly committing suicide after Antony's unjustified sacrifice. Her death, however avoids the pain seen in Antony's death, as his was for no apparent reason. Her death is seen as peaceful and painless, and her justification is seen as Antony, waiting for her. Even Caesar sees this, and concludes, "No grave upon the earth shall clip in it a pair so famous" showing that their love was so great, and to so much consequence that it has earned them a large place in history. Now, why is Shakespeare's Cleopatra such an enduring figure, because of her sensuality, and sexual prowess over others, both influencing mind and actions. Her almost sly actions made her a more influential and unconventional figurine. ...read more.

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