An examination of Shakespeare's treatment towards suicide between Antony, Cleopatra and Enobarbus

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An examination of Shakespeare’s treatment towards suicide between

Antony, Cleopatra and Enobarbus

Shakespeare has created three strong characters within the play Antony and Cleopatra. Their attitudes to death and mortality in the play have little similarities as Antony, Cleopatra and Enobarbus all approach the issue differently.

Enobarbus, for example, acquires a broken heart after regrettably leaving the side of Antony to join forces with Caesar. He is ashamed at what he has done and feels he has acted wrongly. When the messenger sent by Antony gives Enobarbus his treasure, it makes him feel guiltier for his disloyalty to his close friend.

At this point, the option of suicide becomes apparent as Enobarbus speaks of his death which would be a way of ending his broken heart.

At the end of Act IV, Enobarbus feels not worthy and exits by saying; ‘go seek / some ditch wherein to die...’

It isn’t until Scene 9 that Enobarbus carries out his suicide. He looks up to the moon and addresses it, as this is associated with mental instability and asks the moon to witness his repentance and for the forgiveness of Antony, and in line 23 he stabs himself uttering Antony’s name.

Enobarbus’ death showed his weakness to carry on with the guilt of leaving Antony. He felt so ashamed of his actions and saw the only way to fix the wrong doing was to end his life as he was the one at fault.

Antony however feared death. Shakespeare gives the audience the impression that he is scared of mortality. But when he hears the news that his beloved Cleopatra has apparently committed suicide he attempts suicide himself because without her in his life, he has nothing to live for.

It is Eros who kills himself first after Antony asks Eros to kill him as he cannot bring himself to carry out the act. At this point Shakespeare encourages the audience to believe that Antony is going to die using the sword, but when Antony falls on Eros’ sword afterwards, he fails to kill himself outright. After then asking Decretas to kill him, it becomes almost like a pantomime with Antony messing up his suicide twice.

With his life as a soldier at an end, Antony becomes like a ‘brideroom’ in his death and runs to it, ‘As a lovers’ bed’ with no hesitation when he finds out that Cleopatra had deceived him by lying about her suicide.

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When Antony is sent to Cleopatra’s monument after finding out that she is still alive, there is a sense of a double irony as she was not dead and he was dying.

As Cleopatra eventually gives Antony his kiss which he asked for as his death wish, he dies.

Cleopatra’s death at the end of the play is the result of a climatic build-up. Her death is to show courage which relates to being a Roman quality. After faking her death to see what her lover Antony’s reaction would be, she commits suicide to defeat Caesar and join Antony. Five ...

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