Although military-minded, Antony retains his kind disposition even when things are not in his favour. Caesar, on the other hand, is very Roman in the sense he is concerned solely with business and politics. Antony, despite being Roman, takes a more Egyptian approach to life and is more idle, indulgent and concerned with love. This isn’t how he always was; throughout the play we hear glimpses of the ‘old Antony’ who was courageous, business minded and a powerful warrior but at the end of the play he even loses his position as part of the triumvirate, a sign of his fall from power which was largely influenced by Cleopatra. Caesar tells Antony he is “too indulgent” and that he is neglecting his duties as part of the triumvirate by sleeping with Cleopatra (“...Let’s grant it not/Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy”). Antony takes no notice of Caesar and so his power becomes significantly less as he neglects his duties more. In Act One Scene Four Caesar even admits he once admired Antony but his indulgences made him lose all respect for him.
When trying to decided whether Antony can be called a tragic figure it is necessary to consider whether Antony and Cleopatra can be regarded as one. According to Aristotle, "Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should be single and complete, presenting a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments...” Antony is most definitely a powerful character at the beginning of the play but loses everything so in that respect it is fair to call Antony and Cleopatra a tragedy. Antony also has a flaw, he lacks self-control and it is this which leads to his downfall. Tragic flaws are necessary in tragedies but it is not only this which leads to his demise; in Act Two Scene Three Antony’s fate already seems decided when a Soothsayer tells Antony that he should stay away from Caesar because “If thou dost play with him at any game,/Thou art sure to lose...”. This idea of fate being to blame for the tragic figures ruin was common in Medieval Tragedy. Antony and Cleopatra differs from Shakespeare’s other tragedies in the sense that Antony doesn’t seem to go through any kind of struggle but instead, although he does fall it is not a steady descent. According to A.C Bradley, “to regard this tragedy as a rival of the famous four, is surely an error” since unlike in other tragedies we are both concerned and detached to Antony as well as the play not being as “dramatically exciting” as the other tragedies.
If we compare Antony to Cleopatra its seems as though he is more of a tragic character since his suicide provokes more pity from the audience than hers because even in death he is not able to do it right and his suicide is not smooth but instead he clumsily commits suicide. This action however differentiates him from a classical tragic character because through his suicide he actually conquers Caesar by preventing Caesar killing him. Although this means he may not traditionally be regarded as a tragic figure I feel that to a modern audience it produces more emotion and we come to see the action as noble, even if it is not one we would normally consider that way. The play allows us to decide whether Aristotle’s definition is the only correct one or if it is possible that a character which generates strong emotions in members of the audience and leaves an impression even after watching can be deemed a tragic figure even if as well as pity we actually feel the character has succeeded in some ways. Antony’s downfall is not complete because at the end of the play we actually feel pleased that he and Cleopatra are together again, despite that it is in death.
Overall I believe Antony’s change in character throughout the play is minimal but his change from the military and Roman man he was to the man we see throughout the play is very significant and although this change could be said to be partially accountable for his fall, I also feel it makes him the likeable and memorable character we empathise with. We feel no regret for his death which raises the question of whether it really can be deemed a tragedy but I feel it is a tragedy of forms in that Antony and Cleopatra had to die in order to stay together.