Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Cleopatra in the play 'Antony and Cleopatra'

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Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of Cleopatra in the play ‘Antony and Cleopatra’

‘A woman of infinite variety’. This may be a very accurate portrayal of Cleopatra in my opinion. Cleopatra is a very interesting character in Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. She is presented in many ways; she is a great lover yet childish within her actions. Her actions are a reflection of her personality and shows how her character develops throughout the play. She goes from childish to suffering her consequences of this.  The presentation of Cleopatra contributes to the play’s audiences and the things she does are a reflection of her love for Antony. Shakespeare’s presentation of Cleopatra helps to make her a credible character and helps audience to relate to her actions taken.

An aspect of Cleopatra’s presentation is when she is with and without Antony. It is noticeable how her actions change, with the juxtaposition of scenes where she is in Egypt without Antony. Without him, we see her as a woman in love. She spends hours wondering where her beloved Antony is and what is he doing. She often ponders if he is thinking of her. She is infatuated with him. She can’t bear to be apart from him. This is shown in act 1 scene 5 when Cleopatra asks to drink ‘mandragora’. This is a type of sleeping drug. She is effectively saying that she can’t bear to be parted from her lover so she might as well sleep the time away. This is in contrast to her behaviour towards him when he returns to her. It as if when he’s around her he can never please her or at least she will never show her pleasure with him. She is hesitant as if she doesn’t want him to see her true love for him. This makes me think that because of her past with men, which never seems to work out she may realise that he is the ‘one’ for her but she is afraid that she may lose him. This can be seen by her anger when Charmian praises Caesar Cleopatra demands they say ‘ the brave Antony’ by Shakespeare using the word brave this shows Cleopatra see’s him as strong and noble. Her actions also show she is hard to please for example she tells Charmian that if she finds Antony sad then ‘say I’m dancing.’ This shows how perverse she can be, especially towards Antony; it shows her childlike actions towards him.

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Shakespeare has presented Cleopatra as a very alluring character, who seems to be able to charm and enchant any man or woman. Her ladies seem to be under a spell. They love her so much and are so loyal towards her.  She has a great sex appeal and is able to use it to her advantage, although some characters see her as a ‘strumpet’, they believe she has used her enchantment to control Antony.  This can be seen by the way he is so in love with her he leaves wives just to be with her. Some may argue ...

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The essay makes a range of valid points, but these are undermined by weaknesses in expression and punctuation. Candidates who find expressing their ideas difficult may be helped by reading their essay aloud, either to themselves or to a sympathetic listener, who will stop them at any point where meaning is not clear. In addition careful thought should be given to how to structure an essay logically. ***