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Using Act III Scene 13, how does Shakespeare present the character of Mark Antony?

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Introduction

Using Act III Scene 13, how does Shakespeare present the character of Mark Antony? In Act III Scene 13, Antony receives the news that Cleopatra's request has been granted, and his ignored. He sends an ambassador to propose a duel between himself and Caesar. Then Caesar's ambassador comes in, and as he is kissing Cleopatra's hand, Antony walks in. He orders for the ambassador, Thidias, to be whipped, inviting Caesar to do the same to his own ambassador. He then shouts angrily at Cleopatra; not only because of Thidias, but also because she was the reason he left the naval battle. After Cleopatra has satisfied Antony with her responses. He then resolves to fight Caesar, and behaves as he did in Julius Caesar, a brave warrior; Shakespeare here shows that Antony has returned to his former self, or at least a close approximation to the attitude displayed in Julius Caesar. In the opening of the scene, Shakespeare presents Antony in a very negative light; Enobarbus says that Antony's 'captainship', his competence as a captain, has been 'nicked' by his infatuation with Cleopatra: 'The itch of his affection should not then/ Have nicked his captainship'. Shakespeare's word choice makes this a particularly demeaning comment; the fact that Antony's love for Cleopatra is reduced to an 'itch' here shows that Enobarbus clearly does not think very highly of Antony's affection, as it is a very diminuting adjective. ...read more.

Middle

The repetition of 'Sir' emphasises the whole clause, henceforth highlighting the metaphor that Antony is a leaky ship. It is also indicative of tone; such a repetition implies a manner of pleading to someone who refuses to take good advice. The fact that he again uses a modal verb, 'we must leave thee' shows that he is absolutely convinced of Antony's failure, and has lost all faith in him. This presents Antony as a hopeless shadow of what he was in Julius Caesar; Enobarbus is seemingly loyal throughout the play, and now he feels he 'must' leave Antony. The reference to the generals leaving Antony, 'Thy dearest quit thee' was no doubt added by Shakespeare not only to re-iterate that the generals have defected, but also to underline the point that Enobarbus is going to follow suit. Antony seems to regain confidence later on in the scene, presenting him as a far stronger character. He speaks with conviction and passion when addressing Thidias: 'Now, gods and devils!/ Authority melts from me... I am Antony yet!' The fact that he is addressing the gods, and precedes with 'now' implies that he has had an epiphany, due to the sudden nature of this outburst, and also that he is addressing 'gods and devils' implies a dramatic significance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, one must consider this: at the end of Julius Caesar, Antony's crowning achievement was not a headstrong attitude to battle, but rather political savvy; this all-important aspect of the 'old' Antony has all-but gone, by the way Shakespeare presents him through Enobarbus. Enobarbus also confirms that, after Antony's recent outburst, he 'will... leave him'; this is clear evidence that Enobarbus sees Antony's recent actions as so terrible that he resolves once and for all to leave him. In conclusion, Antony is not presented in a distinctively positive or negative light, but rather in a nondescript shade of grey; Shakespeare presents various characters' opinions of Antony, leaving it up to the audience to decide whether or not he has returned to his former greatness. However, it seems apparent that he has certainly regained his vigour and drive, as he resolves to fight. However, Shakespeare points out, via Enobarbus, that essentially what Antony is doing may be brave but is not clever; the intellectual, calculating side of Antony, witnessed in Julius Caesar has as good as vanished from Antony. Enobarbus concludes the scene with a reflection on Antony, essentially saying that he has gained back his heart but lost his mind; the audience are left to decide for themselves whether or not valour or reason are the more important traits, and therefore evaluate Antony. - PAGE 4 - ...read more.

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