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While Mark Antony is a great general, one of the three triumvant, it is indeed impossible to feel sympathy for him in his extreme "dotage" for Cleopatra

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While Mark Antony is a great general, one of the three triumvant, it is indeed impossible to feel sympathy for him in his extreme "dotage" for Cleopatra. He "fishes, drinks and wastes the lamps of night in revel", hence destroying his own reputation, and even losing his masculinity, and thus, respect. In the opening scene of the play, even before Antony appears, he is constituted by the ideological structure of the Roman world. Antony's identity is discussed to be in a state of oscillation: "This dotage of our general's o'erflows the measure." The "measure" spoken of here refers to a limit that describes the proper standard of Roman identity. Deviation from this identity is what alarms the Roman audience (I.e. Philo and Demetrius). Right from the start, in Philo's opening speech, we learn that Antony's heart refuses all self-restraint. His desire is excessive, producing a transformation from a "pillar of the world" -- a firm bearer of the Roman senate, likened to "Mars", god of war, clad in armour -- "into a strumpet's fool." ...read more.


The cyclical cooling and enflaming suggests the fluctuating course that Antony will follow, suggesting a sort of shameful helplessness of Antony in regard for his love for Cleopatra. It also suggests entrapment - the passionate being to his passion and the passive being to his fate. It becomes lucid that the establishment of both his Roman and Egyptian identities require his physical presence: Antony: The business she [Fulvia] hath broached in the state [Rome] cannot endure my absence. Enobarbus: And the business you have broach'd here cannot be Without you, especially that of Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your abode. But despite his being a military man (the implication of self-discipline), Antony tries to bifurcate: "The strong necessity of time commands our services for awhile; but my full heart remains in use with you...That thou, residing here, goes yet with me; And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee." Antony which to return to Italy, where it "shines o'er with civil swords". ...read more.


Lack of proper cultivation of the ground (Roman earth) of his masculinity, Antony is prone towards a principle of excess determining him. Figuration of women as apparel to dress men's bodies resonates. Caesar, after describing some of Antony's pleasurable immoderations, says that he "is not more manlike than Cleopatra,; nor the Queen of Ptolomy more womanly than he." Cleopatra recalls of the time, when she "drunk him to his bed; Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst I wore his sword Philippan." Consequently, Antony is presented in several emasculated ways - as a eunuch, a pleasure-seeking boy, and cross-dressed as a woman. As a result of all these dynamics, the audience's deference to him is supplanted with disgust, that such a great man could allow himself to degenerate to such a position, of losing his identity and replacing it with an ineffectual one. As such, the disgust disallows the audience to generate any feelings of sympathy towards him, proving the statement given to be accurate. Literature Essay - 'It is impossible to feel sympathy for Mark Antony, a man who is nothing more than a strumpet's fool.' Do you agree? ...read more.

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