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An exploration of the concept of Power in the play "Antony and Cleopatra".

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Introduction

An exploration of the concept of Power in the play Power is used throughout "Antony and Cleopatra" in many different ways, it brings people together yet also pushes others apart and whilst power can be a useful thing, too much power or the abuse of power can lead to great confusion or greed between people. Power is one of the main themes in the play and controls not only the movement of the characters. For example Antony moving between Rome and Egypt to control his empire and meet with the Triumvirate, power also controls people's relationships. The power of love plays a strong part in the play, mainly between Antony and Cleopatra. From the opening lines of the play we get an impression of Cleopatra's power as two of Antony's soldiers are talking about how she has changed him, they refer to Antony saying he was a god like "Mars" until he met Cleopatra, but now his eyes "turn the office and devotion of their view" to everything that Cleopatra does. The power of love has always affected some part of Antony's life; if it were not his love for Cleopatra it would be his love of soldiering. In Act 1 Scene 4 we hear Caesar's opinion of how Antony used to be, he describes Antony as a hero and has a lot of respect for him, he uses similes to describe his power as being " like the stag." ...read more.

Middle

The idea that Cleopatra not only has power over people and great political power over Egypt but also seems to have some sort of power over nature itself is put across even more so in the language Shakespeare has used. Enobarbus starts his description of Cleopatra by describing "the barge she sat in, Like a burnished throne," this use of similes to describe Cleopatra's surrounding really makes her regal and powerfulness become apparent. Shakespeare's use of imagery is carried on throughout Enobarbus's speech mainly through his use of hyperbole, he compares Cleopatra to a goddess when Enobarbus says "O'erpicturing that Venus" showing that his impression of Cleopatra conveys more power than that of a God. Also the use of paradox by Shakespeare in Enobarbus's speech makes the perfection and power over life itself stand out more when he says that she "did make defect perfection" Cleopatra's supernatural power is further emphasised with more use of hyperbole when Enobarbus says "the winds were love sick," although in modern day we see this as a simple exaggeration of her powerful effect on life to a contempary audience when Enobarbus said this it would have had a great impact on them making them think that Cleopatra really did have effect and power over everything including nature itself making her seem even more god like. ...read more.

Conclusion

Take for example earlier on in the play in act 2 scene 1 when Pompey is planning his attack on Rome he says "Mark Antony In Egypt sits at dinner" showing that he as an enemy of the Triumvirate knows that when they are divided they are weak. This lack of power leaves them open for attack, both physically and mentally in Antony's case. He was physically attacked by Pompey and mentally attacked by Cleopatra in the way that she uses his weakness to regain his love for her and then in act 4 scene 13 she uses it when she sends a Mardian to Antony saying "go tell him I have slain myself", unfortunately for Cleopatra she did not realise how mentally weak Antony was and this lead to his death. The language used in Antony's final words show his weakness when he says "Now my spirit is going" conveying that Antony has excepted his fate. The concept of power interested me throughout the play as it can be used and interpreted in many different ways, it can be used for the good of some characters or manipulated by others in order to weaken or break up either a political or loving relationship. Power is described in many different ways throughout the play ranging from "enchanting" to "Like the stag." I feel that power was used as the main controlling factor throughout the play by Shakespeare and controlled both the actions and in-actions of the characters. Andrew Jones AH 12 1 ...read more.

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