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What do you think about the ways in which Shakespeare presents two of his main characters in Act One?

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Introduction

What do you think about the ways in which Shakespeare presents two of his main characters in Act One? In Anthony and Cleopatra Shakespeare uses a variety of methods to present his characters and further develop them. Through their speech, especially their language, tone and syntax we learn a great deal about them. Their course of action also affects the way in which they are perceived, as does other character's views of them. Each of these is an important factor when establishing a character's personality and the playwright must carefully consider all of them. Every word that leaves the characters lips is important and a singular misplaced one can change the way in which the audience view them for the remainder of the play. It is obvious when studying the characters of Anthony and Enobarbus that Shakespeare has carefully considered all of the previously mentioned factors in order to present them exactly as he intended. The audience is first introduced to the character of Anthony through his fellow officer, Philo. They hear how: 'His captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper And is become the bellows and the fan To cool a gipsy's lust.' ...read more.

Middle

The audience gain respect for Anthony as a leader, especially considering he is altruistic enough to admit, 'These strong Egyptian fetters I must break.' In this case Anthony the leader is presented in a positive light, however at various other points throughout the scene the opposite occurs. Anthony's syntax consists of short, barking statements that leaders typically utilise. 'Kingdoms are clay!' Is a prime example of one of these statements and would serve to aggravate the audience. The fact that he uses such short, matter of fact statements suggests that he is self-confident and holds himself in high regard. It is extremely clever of Shakespeare to also present negative aspects of Anthony's character. Not only does it add tension to the play, but it also gets the audience pondering the idea that successful leaders aren't generally well-liked individuals. He suggests that leaders need to be cocksure in order to have the conviction to make decisions and to possess authority. Shakespeare has equipped Anthony with a vocabulary befitting his role as leader, as well as one for his role as the lover. It consists of many command words and words concerning business and battles. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Anthony announces that she is, 'Cunning past man's thought' Enobarbus points out that, 'Her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love.' Once again Shakespeare is using Enobarbus as a vehicle to ensure that the audience gain a rounded view of each character. It is this common sense that Enobarbus possesses that makes him such an important figure. When Anthony and Cleopatra are being overly dramatic, fuelled by their emotions, he can be relied upon to give an objective, reasoned view. It could be argued that the views of Shakespeare can be heard through Enobarbus' words, and perhaps he is the character through which most of Shakespeare's opinions of Anthony and Cleopatra are voiced. Shakespeare has done an excellent job of presenting his audience with interesting, multi-faceted characters. The way in which he presents Anthony as both a lover and leader illustrates his extreme skill. He allows the audience to feel compassion for Anthony, yet at the same time respect him as a great leader. The presentation of Enobarbus is also successfully accomplished. Shakespeare doesn't merely provide him with a supporting role but instead he intricately implicates him in the general design. The characters of Anthony and Enobarbus are strong in their own right but as a pair they compliment each other well. Candice White 28/04/2007 1 ...read more.

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