"Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of both Antony and Cleopatra in Act 1"

Authors Avatar

“Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of both Antony and Cleopatra in Act 1”

Shakespeare’s presentation of both Antony and Cleopatra in Act 1 can be analysed in many ways as they are both introduced in Act 1 with in-depth descriptions and images of both of them throughout, whether it be by eachother or opinions on them voiced by other characters.

Straight from the beginning of the play, in Act 1 scene 1, Antony and Cleopatra argue over whether their love for one another for one another can be measured:

CLEOPATRA: If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
ANTONY: There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned.
CLEOPATRA: I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved.
ANTONY: Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

This exchange sets the tone for the up coming talks on love and their attitudes to eachother and their relationship. Cleopatra expresses the expectation that love should be declared grandly. She is looking for a particular sense of comfort and being loved by asking Antony and wanting to hear of how much he loves her. It seems as though Cleopatra and Antony’s relationship seems to be very much in the public eye due to both of them holding such high positions in the two most powerful empires of the world. In the lines quoted above, Cleopatra claims that she knows the limits (‘bourn’) oh her lover’s affections, and Antony responds that, to do so, she will need to discover uncharted territories. By likening their love to the discovery and claim of “new heaven, new earth,” the couple link such private emotions to current affairs of state. As a result, their relationship is shown to be one which may have hidden agendas which delve into politics and other important matters that could have a part to play. From the above passage, we can also see a side of Cleopatra’s character as her very first words are to question Antony’s love for her when in reality this is a question which she already knows the answer of and is really just making conversation in a flirtatious way.

Join now!

Throughout the play,  grapples with the conflict between his love for  and his duties to the Roman Empire. In Act 1 scene 1, just after the section above, Antony uses a very destructive image to show where his priorities currently lie by dismissing the duties he has neglected, “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch  Of the ranged empire fall”. This is one of the most powerful statements Antony makes as it shows how in love or in some ways under the influence of Cleopatra he is and shows total disrespect to his responsibility to his people ...

This is a preview of the whole essay