Discuss the presentation of Cleopatra presented in Act 1

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Discuss the presentation of Cleopatra presented in Act 1

          In act 1 in Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra is presented as a dominant, sexually veracious, dramatic character that is totally besotted with Antony and wants to know everything about him when he is not around him. She comes across as a very complex character that seems to show a state of ambivalence that is of love and hate, by poking fun at and belittling Antony when he is present, but constantly wandering about him when he is gone even to the point of her conjuring up an image of him.

          It is apparent that one of Cleopatra’s characteristics is her dominance and especially the dominance she holds over Antony. In their first exchange she illustrates herself to be the more dominant entity verbally compared to Antony. She forces Antony to keep on complimenting her by saying how much he loves her: “there’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned…then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth [for his love]”. From this short conversation, Cleopatra’s dominance is illustrated by how she controls it: “if it be love indeed, tell me how much”, showing that she is in total control even so much as by saying that she will tell him how much to love her: “I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved”.  

          Her dominance is presented in another way also later on when she deliberately belittles Antony by playing on his lack of masculinity and his subservience to the “scarce-bearded Caesar”,” is Caesar’s homager”, and by saying he takes orders from him: “Do this or this…” By using such provocative language, and by the use of Antony’s feeble replay, it serves to highlight the dominance of Cleopatra and weakness of Antony. Cleopatra’s aggressive nature is hinted when a messenger is frightened to announce a message to Antony. A messenger is reluctant to tell Antony the news: “the nature of bad news infects the teller” in case he is victimized. His response is relatively benign, which acts as a contrast later on in the play when Cleopatra is told bad news and her response is more aggressive by actually beating up the messenger.

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          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 ...

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