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How does Shakespeare present the idea of Cleopatra as a powerful character?

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Introduction

Hannah Greenslade English Coursework Jan2004 How does Shakespeare present the idea of Cleopatra as a powerful character? The essential part of Cleopatra's motivation is towards Antony. She also needs to be the most powerful person in their relationship, for example when they first met, she insisted "it should be better he became her guest" (2.2.231). She likes to have the final say in things and maintain control over him, such as near the beginning of the play when she makes him listen to the messenger, "hear them, Antony" (1.1.20) One of her largest statements of power over him is when he follows her when she flees the sea battle. This shows her need to have power over him as a woman and in their personal relationship rather than as the Queen of Egypt with a need for power over Rome; her and Antony are fighting on the same side. ...read more.

Middle

She appears desperate for power over him and always has a backup plan in case he fails to comply. Shakespeare illustrates this throughout the play, but one of the scenes where it is most noticeable is at the very start, - Act1, Scene3. Antony is breaking the news to Cleopatra that he has to leave Egypt and return to Rome, she uses many different approaches to try to change his mind. Whilst keeping Antony in the dark, Shakespeare reveals a lot about Cleopatra's character to the audience, meaning they can follow her manipulation of Antony and have an insight into her tactics and motives. At the start of the scene, Cleopatra is anxious to know why Antony is not with her and instructs Charmian to "see where he is, who's with him, what he does" (1.3.3). This is an insight into her need for control over Antony. ...read more.

Conclusion

(1.3.4-6) In doing this, Cleopatra is showing that although she wants Antony to worry about her Cleopatra has power over other people in their love for her. She is a strong, beautiful woman, who uses her beauty to her advantage. Enobarbus' description of the barge scene is a good example of how enrapturing she can be. The scene was constructed for Antony, but the fact that even level-headed Enobarbus was caught up in it shows the extent of this power that she has over people. The language used in this scene is very powerful, made even more so by the fact that it is recounted by Enobarbus. There is a lot of sensory language used, such as "to the tune of flutes" (2.2.205) and "flower-soft hands" (2.2.220). This emphasis on the sensuousness of the scene helps the audience to understand the way Cleopatra captivates her audiences. ...read more.

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