Antony and Cleopatra essay 2:
Remind yourself of Act 3: Scene 2, in which Antony and Octavia take leave of Caesar. Write a detailed exploration on the scene paying particular attention to the dramatic function of Enobarbus and Agrippa and also the words of Caesar, Antony and Octavia.
When we look at Act 3: Scene 2, we can see that it is in an important and prominent place in the play. It is a continuation from the drunken scene on Pompey’s boat and here, we see the characters in a very different view: sober and distressed. The scene starts with lesser characters, as it does in many of the scenes in this play. This is a common convention of Shakespeare’s to prepare us for the entrance of the more important characters and to give us a different view. To understand this use more, I will study the text in more detail.
The beginning is very different to the main part of this scene. We see, which is usual from Shakespeare, Enobarbus and Agrippa: the lesser characters. They start the scene in a high-spirited tone and humorous tone. They are conversing about the members of the triumvirate, particularly Lepidus. These two characters think that Lepidus is the weakest member of the triumvirate, and that he only takes the orders of Antony and Caesar, instead of proposing his own ideas: “ ‘Tis a noble Lepidus.” They make fun of him and tell each other of how they think he would do anything for either Caesar or Antony. Shakespeare has put these characters at this place in the scene to give the audience a separate view to that of Caesar’s and Antony’s.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Enobarbus and Agrippa continue their conversation about Lepidus and laugh and joke about him until the more important characters enter: Caesar, Antony and Octavia. Shakespeare has put Enobarbus and Agrippa at this part of the scene to prepare us for the entering of the other three characters. We have now seen the lesser characters’ opinions of Lepidus, Antony and Caesar and when they enter the scene, we have another view of them and we can now see them in this way. I will now look at the words used by these three characters in this scene.
As Act 3: Scene 2 is quite short, Antony does not say much. . He tells Caesar that he and Octavia must leave him now to go and live in Athens. He wishes him well and wishes that the gods will look after him: “ So the gods keep you,” From this we can see another side to Antony’s character. He tells Caesar that he is in the gods’ hands now because he is leaving, therefore comparing himself to the gods. This portrays Antony as a confident man who thinks highly of himself. Antony does not ask Caesar if he may leave with his sister, he just tells him: “We will here part.” “No further, sir.” We see Antony as a powerful man, and Shakespeare uses language to portray this in Antony’s character.
He uses powerful language for Antony showing the soldier qualities he possesses, but he also uses emotive language: “ The April’s in her eyes: it is love’s spring” which portrays kindness and love in this warrior. Later on this is supported, as Antony embraces Caesar like a brother, as him and Octavia are about to depart: “I’ll wrestle with you in my strength of love.” This portrays Antony as a kind man, who wants to have a long and lasting friendship with Caesar and does not want a repetition of what happened before.
When we look at Octavia we can see that she is as before: very timid and shy. As always she does not say much, but we can still explore the meaning of this scene through her words. This scene has been put at this part of the play for different meaning and Octavia may be one of them. In the last scene in which she was present: Act 2: Scene 3 we saw how loyal she was to both Caesar and Antony. Shakespeare has put her in this scene, to remind the audience of her and her comparison with Cleopatra, who is in the next scene, and how much more flamboyant and confident she is. When Caesar begins his farewell, Octavia breaks down in tears: “My noble brother!” We can see that she is a weak character. Our thoughts of her timid character are supported when she whispers to Caesar instead of speaking to him. The audience may become more agitated with her because of this, which is a clever device of Shakespeare because Cleopatra is in the next scene, and we are supposed to favour her over Octavia.
Antony then supports our view of her being shy as he compares her to a feather: “That stands upon the swell at full tide,” This shows her as brittle and weak, as we already know. Her presence on stage is very important, as it shows how she will be torn between the two most important men in her life: Caesar and Antony. We know in our hearts that she will always choose her brother over her lover, as we can see their close relationship in each scene they are in together: “ The time shall not outgo my thinking on you.” The feather comparison also shows us how she will be blown between the two men, but we still do not have much sympathy for her, as the audience would think that she should not be with Antony in the first place. Shakespeare uses Octavia to create a sombre tone within this scene. She is quite an emotive character who shows her feeling, even though she is timid, and because she is leaving Caesar, we can sense a dismal tone.
When we are exploring this scene we can see that it is very emotional and Caesar adds to this tone. When he first enters he talks to Antony about the joy Octavia has brought to his and Antony’s life: “You take from me a great part of myself.” Caesar is very close to his sister, as I have said before, and the audience can tell that he will feel somewhat lonely. The audience may feel some sympathy towards Caesar in this scene, as he will be alone and will have to take the political responsibilities alone. He tells Antony that he will be losing a great part to his live: his sister. He wishes Antony and Octavia well, showing his feeling towards his sister: “Farewell, Farewell!” Caesar nearly weeps for Octavia, as he will miss her greatly.
When we move back to the lesser characters: Enobarbus and Agrippa, we can see that Enobarbus, one of Antony’s soldiers, thinks that Caesar is pathetic for crying at the parting of Octavia. Agrippa reminds Enobarbus that Antony wept when Julius Caesar died: “He cried almost to roaring,” Enobarbus somehow justifies this, portraying his devotion to his master. Shakespeare puts Enobarbus and Agrippa near the end of the scene to represent other parts to the characters on stage.
At the end of this scene we see more of Enobarbus’ loyalty to his master, but we also see how close Antony was Julius Caesar. Shakespeare has put this scene at this part in the play to show the relationship between the two members of the triumvirate. Further on in this play this may be of some relevance, as we already know that Cleopatra used to be married to Julius Caesar, and as Antony was so close to him there may be some friction later in the play. In the next scene we see Cleopatra questioning the Messenger about Octavia’s looks: “Guess at her years, I prithee.” Act 3: Scene 2 is a link to this as we have just seen Octavia on stage, so this scene will be humorous and Octavia’s appearance will be clear in our heads.
As we can see Shakespeare has used lesser characters and main characters to create different tones in this scene: from mocking and humorous to a sombre and distressing tone. He has also used the main characters words to develop their characters more as we have seen more emotion from Caesar and Octavia. Finally when we look at the place of this scene in the play, we can see that Shakespeare has cleverly placed it here to show us a sombre mood after the drunken scene on Pompey’s boat and how situations have gone back to normal and everything is not perfect. After this scene we see Cleopatra, so this scene has reminded us of Octavia and how much more boring and unattractive she is compared to the queen of Egypt.