Antony and Cleopatra Characters

Antony

•In the figure of Antony himself, Shakespeare explores the tragically conflicting sides of a multi-faceted man who finds himself unable to “hold this visible shape” in a constantly shifting world. 

•Antony is a character who at once most strongly creates and divides the loyalty of other characters.

•Eros’ pretence of killing Antony adds an element of bathos to his death; it shows the “price he pays for having made himself too much of a man”.

•Antony’s return to Rome is an attempt to still the movement and to cement the relationships, but it is tragically doomed to failure.

•It is through the relationship of Cleopatra and Antony that Shakespeare explores the way in which love is able to both transcend and be tragically subject to the constraints of time and history.

•Although in succumbing to death Antony succeeds in overcoming his conflict between his personal desires of love and his Roman sense of duty, the tensions between Rome's austerity and Egypt's exuberance remain.

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Cleopatra 1

•At the end of the play, even Caesar is able to recognise the greatness of the two lovers: the near-triumphant death of Cleopatra almost defies tragedy as the lovers are enthroned, even in death, as the greatest lover of all time.

•The fatality of Cleopatra’s deceptive nature is tragically revealed in the final scenes of the play, wherein her lies succeed in making the “whole scene a scene of woe”.

•Cleopatra’s central fascination is her ability to change; she is constantly fascinating because she is constantly changing, although not in fundamentals.

•Cleopatra is the character most closely associated to Egypt and its intoxicating combination of decadence and emotion.

•In Cleopatra, Shakespeare presents a complex character who moves seamlessly between bawdy humour to soaring poetry, from passionate love to petty self-interest within the same scene. 

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Cleopatra 2

•It is through the relationship of Cleopatra and Antony that Shakespeare explores the way in which love is able to both transcend and be tragically subject to the constraints of time and history.

•Egyptian culture, through Shakespeare’s characterisation of Cleopatra, treats the theme of honour with a sense of disregard, and instead prioritises passion and frivolities. 

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Enobarbus

•Through the character of Enobarbus, Shakespeare presents the potentially fatal consequences of all-consuming loyalty and devotion.

•It is not only Antony who finds himself at war with himself; Bradley stated that those around the tragic hero will be brought down by his fall, and perhaps the most notable example of this comes from Enobarbus.

•Enobarbus is able to connect the audience to the play via his use of asides and soliloquy; he allows us to see the play from his perspective, giving a great insight into the other characters.

•Throughout the play, Shakespeare encourages the audience to see in Enobarbus a sort of lesser parallel to the tragic hero; his death, with Antony’s name on his lips, foreshadows Antony’s own, thus confirming Bradley’s belief that the tragic hero is one which “makes the scene a whole scene of woe”.

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Caesar

•Caesar is used by Shakespeare as a construct by which to convey the Roman, masculine values of Ancient Rome; Caesar at once is both able to epitomise and convey the limitations of Roman ideals and values. 

•Shakespeare is able to explore the clash between differing socio-political archetypes through the presentation of Caesar as Rome, and Cleopatra as Egypt.

•At the end of the play, even Caesar is able to recognise the greatness of the two lovers: the near-triumphant death of Cleopatra almost defies tragedy as the lovers are enthroned, even in death, as the greatest lover of all time.

•At the end of the play, Caesar’s attempts to deceive Cleopatra are ultimately futile, allowing her own triumph at the expense of Caesar’s.

•Roman honour is conveyed as a masculine characteristic that is stable and enduring in the characterisation of Caesar.

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