How does Shakespeare present the action in Act three?

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Katie Messmer

How does Shakespeare present the action in Act three?

The point of Act three Scene one is to show the audience the political side of Antony and Cleopatra. All of the triumvirate are worried about their reputations and this short scene suggests that they are not that generous.

Shakespeare makes Scene two seem comic because Enobarbus and Agrippa mock Lepidus and say that he is Caesar and Antony's ‘beetle’, ‘They are his shards, and he their beetle’. The way in which Shakespeare has presents Enobarbus’s and Agrippa’s speech, allow the audience to have a bit more background information about the main characters from a completely different, unbiased point of view.

Shakespeare gets rid of Lepidus quickly and quietly. Act three Scene two is his last scene and he only speaks one line. I think Shakespeare wants to get rid of Lepidus to emphasise the action that is about to happen between Caesar and Antony and other main characters. At the end of this scene, Enobarbus begins to mock Antony. Shakespeare is making it seem as though Antony is fake and he isn’t what he says he is.

Scene three concentrates on Cleopatra’s messenger giving Cleopatra the description of Octavia. It is a very comic scene because the messenger was ‘scared out of his wits’ last time he was with Cleopatra and so this time, he tells Cleopatra everything that will make her feel happy and friendly towards him. I think Shakespeare has put this particular scene here because it breaks up the more important action between the triumvirate and Pompey. The audience find it comical and it reinforces how serious and determined the other characters are in the following scenes. In scene four this is especially emphasised when we find out that Caesar has ‘waged a war’ with Pompey and made Antony look bad in public. In this scene, we realise that the triumvirate is no longer and things are falling apart. I think Shakespeare reinforces the fact that the audience will be shocked by placing this scene immediately after a comic scene which trails off from the more important action.

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Shakespeare incorporates Octavia into this scene as being the sensible woman who will ‘act as a go between’ and so the audience feel less anxious about Antony and Caesar having a war. The fact that Antony deserts Octavia is at the moment seen to be the reason for the deterioration of the triumvirate. Act three Scene five however makes clear to the audience that this cant be counted as a reason because Caesar was already ‘establishing his power’ before this. Also in this scene, ‘Caesar is increasing in power’ and Shakespeare presents this by using two of the minor characters ...

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