Jessica Giles 3rd January 2005
In the play Antony and Cleopatra, the character of Cleopatra is one of many dimensions and be seen a person of complex diversity. Her personality is mainly about taking life as one big celebration most of her time in Egypt. Cleopatra loves the richness of her own queen status and loves the celebration that comes with it. Her personality varies because she can change from being a woman with dignity to a woman acting insane. Her sudden changes in behaviour are often difficult to predict or comprehend and happen frequently throughout the play.
You can never guess what Cleopatra is going to next. This is why Enobarbus observes Cleopatra as if she has ‘infinite variety’. Whether it is an accurate observation is what people question when looking at the famous Enobarbus speech of Cleopatra.
She mainly deserves this famous tribute from Enobarbus for many reasons.
“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite variety”(2.2.235-236).
There are many reasons that Enobarbus’ observation of Cleopatra’s infinite variety is an accurate observation.
Firstly Act 2:Scene 2 sees Enobarbus talking openly to Agrippa and Maecenas about Cleopatra’s wild and wonderful ways. He describes in intricate detail the barge she sailed to the harbour in and how even the air would gaze upon her if it could.
‘Whistling to th’air, which, for vacancy, /had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,/ And made a gap in nature’.
This portrays her queen-like status and beauty and it is easy to see why Antony falls in love with her. Is the romantic perception of Cleopatra made my Enobarbus a realistic one? You hardly ever see her being romantic so therefore Enobarbus’ perception of Cleopatra may not be an accurate perception of Cleopatra.
However this famous tribute in which Enobarbus uses to describe Cleopatra may not be an accurate observation because Enobarbus’ speech is very romantic and lyrical.
The way Shakespeare uses paradoxes within this famous tribute is to try and show the variety within her personality.
“To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool”
This paradox of fire and water (glow and cool), portrays that, is this the reality of Cleopatra? , Or is it just an imaginative perception of Cleopatra. Is this the infinite variety Enobarbus is talking about, to some extent this is not an accurate perception of Cleopatra’s personality because Enobarbus is under the influence of the Egyptian delights and enjoyments, in which Cleopatra has influenced him into.