Marc Antony 'Machiavellian schemer'

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Question: 'Machiavellian schemer' or 'Loyal friend' – What is your opinion of Marc Antony?

Mark Antony can be best described as Shakespeare's portrayal of an opportunist. An opportunist is a person, who adjusts his values to suit his purpose and the situation; who uses people and events to get what he wants, not considering principles or consequences. Antony was impulsive and passionate. He looked at life as a game in which he had a certain part to play, and indeed he proved to be a refined and skillful player who knew how to win.

In Caesar's lifetime, Antony is seen as his right hand. At the beginning of the play Antony is obedient and extremely loyal to Julius Caesar. "When Caesar says 'do this' it is performed", he says. Later, we see Antony literally 'running' for Caesar as he takes part in the annual Lupercalia. Antony's devotion to Caesar shows he is capable of real loyalty. He is truly affectionate towards Caesar, even though he seems to bears no ambitious motives to claim the highest position in the Senate at present, but rather he intends to enjoy life as he can under Caesar's rule.

Antony's reputation in the senate was one of a wild, pleasure-loving, womanizer. It was this lively character of Antony's that convinced Brutus that he was not a danger to the conspirators. Brutus underestimated Antony's true leadership qualities, "And for Mark Antony, think not of him; For he can do no more than Caesar's arm When Caesar's head is off" (2.1.181-183).

Antony was looked down upon by all the conspirators except Brutus. They feared that he would succeed Caesar after his death, because of his sincerity and love for Caesar and that he would take a more powerful position over Rome. Brutus however, perceived Antony as being incapable of such strength. He judged him to be potentially harmless in engaging himself in frivolous activities as he didn't take life very seriously.

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Brutus again reassures Cassius of his opinion regarding Mark Antony when he says, "Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him. If he love Caesar, all that he can do is to himself -- take thought and die for Caesar. And that were much he should, for he is given to sports, to wildness, and much company" (2.1.185-189). Antony's love of partying is pointed out again when Caesar comments in surprise that Antony is up early, but yet in defense of his careless behavior when he says, "See! Antony, that revels long a-nights, Is notwithstanding up. Good Morrow, Antony" (2.2.115-116). ...

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