Explore the love between antony and cleopatra throughout shakespeares play

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Explore the presentation of the love between Antony and Cleopatra.

   Throughout the play Shakespeare presents the emotion between Antony and Cleopatra in many different ways that could be interpreted as love, or perhaps lust and nothing more. Antony is shown to be besotted whilst Cleopatra is seen as a woman of ‘infinite variety’ and although high maintenance, in my opinion she did love Antony and seemed to do everything within her power to keep him with her.

   At the beginning of this play we see Cleopatra testing Antony's love for her. ‘If it be love indeed, tell me how much.’ Suggests that Cleopatra is demanding of him, she enjoys the compliments paid to her, increasing her ego. This gives the impression of Cleopatra being the dominant figure in their relationship. She continues her demanding nature with ‘I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved!’ meaning she will limit how far she is prepared to be loved. Antony’s response that ‘then thou must needs find out now heaven, new earth’ shows that as far as he can be concerned there is absolutely no limit that can be defined by human knowledge or experience. ‘Let Rome in Tiber melt’ shows Antony declaring that his love is so strong that he is prepared to ignore Caesar’s demands and his roman duties in order to stay with her. This declaration of his love creates an image to the audience that Antony is actually in love with her. A further example of his understanding of his roman duties can be seen later on when he announces ‘these strong Egyptian fetters I must break or lose myself in dotage’ and then again later when speaking to Enobarbus he says ‘I must from this enchanting queen break off’. When not with Cleopatra he appears to be regretting his position in Egypt, this suggests that it may just be lust he is feeling towards the Egyptian queen. He realises that his infatuation with Cleopatra is going to cause problems back in Rome. He also seems to realise that it is not love, and perhaps she is not worth staying away from Rome and his duties. ‘She is cunning past mans thought’ shows that he can see how clever she is and perhaps playing games with him to keep him in Egypt with her.

   In act I scene III Cleopatra is warned by her attendant Charmian not to pressure Antony too much to stay in Egypt. ‘Madam, me thinks if you did love him dearly, you do not hold the method to enforce the like from him’. Cleopatra is seen to be unconvinced but reluctantly and possibly in the spirit of political correctness she persuades him to leave and he equally reluctantly agrees. ‘The strong necessity of time commands our services a while; but my full heart remains in use with you’. Back in Alexandria with Antony away, Cleopatra bemoans his loss, ‘give me to drink mandrgora that I might sleep out this great gap of time my Antony is away.’ She is disconsolate and refuses any distraction because she wants to wallow in her unhappiness. However even when separated Antony still finds time to send Cleopatra a token of his undying love, a great pearl, and instructs his messenger to ‘say the firm roman to the great Egyptian sends the treasure of an oyster…’. From this she determines that she will write to him everyday. This dedication gives the impression that Cleopatra does in fact love Antony and although he isn’t with her she is willing to write and keep in contact. This shows that it was not just a short fling whilst he was in Egypt.

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   Throughout the play Enobarbus speaks mainly in prose and is always seen as straight talking, to the point and truthful. However in act II scene II Enobarbus speaks of how Antony and Cleopatra both met, and seems to be quite entranced by her himself and cannot be persuaded that they should be apart. He describes her godlike qualities in huge detail and speaks of her servants as ‘Nereids, so many mermaids’, emphasising her beauty in comparison. The speech appeals to all five senses, ‘the silken tackle swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands’ applies not only to the ...

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