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Discuss the Ways Shakespeare Presents the Differences Between Rome and Egypt in 'Antony and Cleopatra'.

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Introduction

Discuss the Ways Shakespeare Presents the Differences Between Rome and Egypt in 'Antony and Cleopatra'. Rome and Egypt are the two main locations where 'Antony and Cleopatra' are set, these two countries are represented very differently within the play. Shakespeare uses characters, language, mood and themes to represent the differences of the countries. The contrast of these two countries is what drives the main plot of the play. Rome is the west and is portrayed as political, strict and masculine where as Egypt, the east, is portrayed as feminine, mysterious and passionate. Egypt is the country which Shakespeare makes his audience warm to. Egypt is an ancient civilisation which is colourful, warm and exotic. Egyptians live life to the full and enjoy socialising, partying, sex and wining and dining. 'Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough Cleopatra's health to drink.' This is shown through the character of Cleopatra who is the queen of Egypt and one of the few female characters in the play. As she is the queen of Egypt, her seductive, warm personality reflects on her positive country and citizens. 'I'th'East my pleasures lies.' Throughout the play the word Egypt, is regularly referred to the queen showing they are one and depend on each other. ...read more.

Middle

Even the minor characters seem to symbolise their countries. For example, the soothsayer, who is an Egyptian, is mysterious and persuasive. Even his occupation (a fortune-teller) represents aspects of Egypt. When sent to Rome by Cleopatra to persuade Antony to return to Egypt the soothsayer succeeds to do so in less than forty lines. 'I will to Egypt.... I'th'East my pleasure lies.' This occurs just minutes after Antony has promised his new wife that he will remain committed to her and his country. 'I have not kept my square, but that to come shall all be done by th'rule.' The soothsayer also highlights the sensibility of Rome when he offers Enobarbus to have his fortune told. Enobarbus kindly refuses 'Most of our fortunes tonight, shall be drunk to bed'. He does not trust the mysteriousness of Egypt yet is willing to wine and dine in the country. Enobarbus represents the honour and loyalty of Rome. Enobarbus can see that Antony's pleasure lies in Egypt and he makes him see that he has not made a mistake in spending time there. When Antony has doubts about whether he should have spent time with Cleopatra 'Would I have never seen her?' Enobarbus convinces him that he did the right thing other wise he would have missed out. 'you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work...' ...read more.

Conclusion

They are in a positive situation and country and even there speech speaks positive of Egypt. 'Welcome from Egypt, sir.' 'My honourable friend Agrippa!' 'Good Enobarbus!' There is a political theme that runs through the play and drives the plot. The outcome of the play in political terms is that Rome wins and Egypt loses. As the leaders of Rome and Egypt represent their countries their political issues reflects on their lives. At the end of the play Cleopatra, Antony and Enobarbus all die in Egypt. Leaving only one triumvir, Caesar, alive in Rome. For the first time in the play Rome is seen as superior country yet this is the outcome of its harsh characteristics. Rome thrives on loyalty and honour and as Antony and Enobarbus have betrayed their duties and fallen in love with the seductive land of Egypt, they had to pay by death. Unlike Caesar who stuck by his duties, remained loyal and is still alive and rules Rome alone. Shakespeare has left his audience thinking about the play and the message which he is trying to get across. The audience can see the themes of the play in their lives and tells them that to be successful in life they have to be honourable to there duties and those around them. Yet also to live life to its fullest and enjoy it so they do not turn bitter and formal. ...read more.

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