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How, in your opinion, does Shakespeare use language throughout the play to present Cleopatra's

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Introduction

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA How, in your opinion, does Shakespeare use language throughout the play to present Cleopatra's "Infinite variety" to the audience? Enobarbus uses the phrase "infinite variety" to describe the beauty and wonder of Cleopatra to Agrippa and Maecenas in Act 2 Scene 2. In the context of the whole play I believe it is a perfect description of how Cleopatra uses the different aspects of her character. Shakespeare uses language, imagery and structure to show the different sides of her personality. This allows Cleopatra to be interpreted in many ways by the actress and the audience. One of the ways Shakespeare presents Cleopatra throughout the play is as a queen. Cleopatra's language emphasises her royal status in Act 3 Scene 7 when she says "as the president of my kingdom" to Enobarbus before the battle of Actium. Using the phrase "my kingdom" to refer to Egypt highlights her power and authority, which is used to win the argument with Enobarbus over her involvement in the battle. This shows how Cleopatra changes her character to best suit the situation. In both Antony and Cleopatra's final scenes Cleopatra is shown by Shakespeare to be a queen rather than a woman or lover. In Act 4 Scene 14 the character of Antony says to Cleopatra "I'm dying, Egypt, dying", this presents her as primarily a queen and a ruler. ...read more.

Middle

In Act 2 Scene 2 Enobarbus reveals to Agrippa and Maecenas that when Antony approached her Cleopatra suggested that "he became her guest" and therefore took charge of their potential relationship. From this quote it is clear that Cleopatra is not nervous amongst strangers or humbled by any person no matter how powerful. Shakespeare's Cleopatra is so strong willed and confident that the character has become the ultimate personification of a strong woman. Despite Cleopatra's strength Shakespeare also reveals the character's weaknesses, which include her normally hidden insecurities about her age and Antony's feelings for her. In Act 2 Scene 5 Cleopatra's self confidence falters when she fears Antony may love another woman. Upon hearing of Antony's sudden marriage to Octavia Shakespeare has Cleopatra inquire about Octavia's appearance to demonstrate her anxiety. She asks the messenger to quickly "report the feature of Octavia, her years", the fact that Cleopatra is firstly concerned about her looks and age highlights her insecurity about being middle aged. The way the messenger reports back to Cleopatra in Act 3 Scene 3 shows that her insecurity is obvious to those around her. The messenger attempts to please Cleopatra as, through her questions, she suggests the responses she needs to hear. Her sensitivity about her age is shown when in an attempt to emphasise Octavia's age the messenger falls below Cleopatra's. ...read more.

Conclusion

The "infinite variety" of Shakespeare's Cleopatra is what makes her such an interesting character. Shakespeare does not provide any definitive evidence on Cleopatra's genuine character and that allows different views to develop. I believe that her chameleon-like nature makes it difficult to evaluate the sincerity of her actions during the play. For example, the confusing incident involving Seleucus and Cleopatra's wealth in Act 5 Scene 2 shows her potential for deceit. This makes it hard to form an overall opinion of Cleopatra and her motives. But I think that Shakespeare presents Cleopatra as a very human character with contrasting strengths and weaknesses. Considering her effect on Antony's once great life it is fair to refer to her as a bad influence. However I do not think Cleopatra should be labeled a witch because I believe she didn't intentionally hurt Antony, though Antony's character was unfortunate to have been affected by Cleopatra and be manipulated by her so easily. Her naturally overpowering personality simply was not suitable to guide Antony successfully through the problems he faced. I feel that Cleopatra's special personality and "infinite variety", which was perfect for Egyptian life, was not right for the tactics and military battles involved in Antony's Roman power struggle. Cleopatra used the varying aspects of her character to find a role in his struggle. But unfortunately for Antony her only success was in the final scene where her deception of Caesar allowed her suicide and reunification with her lost Antony. WORD COUNT: 2,311. ...read more.

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