The presentation of Cleopatra is also of a woman that is controlling and likes to demonstrate her authority. She demonstrates her authority on various occasions, and this is exhibited when she comes in and out of scenes when she feels like it. It’s also demonstrated when she uses the royal “we”: “Perform’t, or else we damn thee” and “We will not loo upon him”, articulating her regal authority and character dominance. Her controlling nature comes apparent when she enters only to find out where Antony is and illustrates the fact that she seems to be only preoccupied with him, “saw you my lord…was he not here…seek him and bring him hither”. The uses of these quick blunt successions of questions help to show that her interests lie only with Antony and everything about him. She directs matters and it is evident that she very much wants to be able to orchestrate where he is and what he is doing, pointing out her want to control him and her dominance.
In act 1 Cleopatra is also presented as being typically Egyptian, a passionate, sexually hungry woman. Often in the act she is referred to something sexual or there have been comments with sexual connotations linked to her. In the first scene Cleopatra is described as a: “Strumpet”, which is a word for whore and “gipsy”, which was a Shakespearean term for a promiscuous women. Gipsies began to appear in England in the early sixteenth century and were thought to have come from Egypt and thus Cleopatra is here described as a gipsy, an Egyptian and a whore. In the exchange with Antony and Enobarbus, there are many jokes made about her having a veracious sexual appetite, and the use of the base and sexual language shows the Egyptian court as a world characterized by revelry, overindulgence and sex, compared to the Roman court which would be strict, highly traditional and rigid. The vulgar language which includes: “cut…case…smock…cunning” which refer to the sexual genitals, illustrates that Shakespeare did this for the everyman, and the poorer less intelligent audience. In this scene she is described as “cunning past man’s thought”, which suggests she is manipulative and cunning but also it’s a sexually explicit term in Shakespearean literature. Further sexual jesting goes on saying that “she hath such a celerity in dying”, which reiterates the idea of her being sexually hungry. In act 1 Egyptians are seen as passionate and Cleopatra optimizes this when she talks to Charmain. Charmain describes her old flame, Caesar, as: “Brave…” and she is corrected by Cleopatra to say: “brave Antony” instead, however Charmain simply says that she is only copying her: “I sing but after you”, which shows she was equally obsessed with Caesar as she is with Antony, testifying her passionate nature.
Cleopatra in Act 1 is also presented as a woman who absolutely adores Antony and one who although is rude to him when he is there; she misses him when he is gone. When he is absent she is so infatuated with him that she always wants to know everything about him. In her exchange with Mardian, she asks question after question about what she thinks Antony is doing: “where think’st thou he is now? Stands he, or sits he? Or does he walk? Or is he on his horse….”and the fact that she says: “he” without referring to his name suggests that he is on lips most of the time. Also on a separate occasion she asks Charmain this time: “where is he…see where he is…who’s with him…what he does…” She even conjures him up in her mind and gets submerged in semi reality: “for so he calls me. Now I feed myself with most delicious poison…” which is clear evidence for her infatuation of him. When he is away she not only calls him by his full name: “Mark Antony…Mark Antony…” but she corrects Charmain for saying: “brave Caesar” to say: “Brave Antony”, which again illustrates how consumed with love she is for him.
Her odd relationship with Antony is because of her duel emotions for him, as if she doesn’t like him when he is present, but misses him dearly when he is absent. Although she is such a dominant, almost arrogant character it seems that she does have some insecurities. During the first exchange, when she belittles Antony, there is a hint of jealousy and this introduces tension into the play. This idea that she is jealous of Fulvia is furthered later when she calls Fulvia a nagging wife: “Shrill-tongued Fulvia scolds” and asks: “Why did he marry Fulvia and not love her?”, and by using the 3rd person in reference to Antony, she starts to show her jealousy. These exchanges illustrate Cleopatra to be quite insecure and unsure about Antony when it comes to Fulvia his wife; however this certain jealousy is short lived with Fulvia dying soon after. In addition it could be that she constantly needs to be centre of attention, and needs compliments to keep her self esteem high. In the same scene she appears to be quite ego mongering and is always fishing for compliments like: “If it be love indeed, tell me how much”. When Antony replies with a flattering phrase about their love, she takes control again and says: “I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved”, as if his limit of love is not enough and so she must limit on how much he may love her, which again links in with the theme of excess, and this also demonstrates further her personality as being dominant and controlling.
Another trait that Cleopatra has been presented with in Act 1 is the dramatic nature of her personality which is also reflected in her speech. When she talks of Fulvia she talks in a very dramatic vain and the constant use of punctuation and rhetorical questions show this. Her dramatic being resurfaces later on, in scene 2, when she says: “I am sick and sullen…help me away, dear Charmain! I shall fall…” at the sight of Antony and also in scene 5 in the exchange between her and Alexas: “Note him…note him…note him”, suggesting that the triple “note him” adds to the idea that there is evidence of theatrical conciseness, and highlights the dramatic nature of Cleopatra.
The final characteristic of Cleopatra is the idea of mysticism. This is a current theme in the play and applies to Egypt but also to Cleopatra to an extent. She is described as a: “gipsy” and an “enchanting queen”, which links to this idea but also to the fact that many felt she was keeping Antony almost under a spell and her antics are often described as: “witchcraft”. The idea of her keeping Antony away from Rome is reiterated in Antony’s words: “These strong Egyptian fetters I must break…”, picturing Cleopatra as a temptress keeping Antony in Egypt rather that Rome neglecting his responsibilities as a leader.
In conclusion Cleopatra is presented as a dominant typically passionately Egyptian women especially when loving Antony. She epitomizes Egypt and all that it stands for, that is: overindulgence, and a women who is presented as being very complicated when it comes to her feelings.