Antony and Cleopatra - Detailed Act Summaries

  1. Act 4
  2. Act 5
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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 29-04-14 19:42

Act 4 Scene 1

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    • Caesar rejects Antony's challenge
  • Caesar orders the troops who deserted from Antony be put on the front lines
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Act 4 Scene 2

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    • Antony addresses his followers in the knowledge that it might be for the last time
  • emotional pathos contrasts strongly with the assured calculation of the previous scene in Caesar's camp, and also with violence + anger that caused Antony to beat the messenger
  • scene shows Antony at his most human, introduces theme of loyalty and lays groundwork for Enobarbus's remorse for his desertion.
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Act 4 Scene 3

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      • Antony's soldiers hear ominous music
  • They interpret Hercules is deserting Antony
  • forebodes inevitable doom
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Act 4 Scene 4

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      • Cleopatra arms Antony, who sets off for battle
  • Cleo - "the armorer of my heart" - helps Antony to arm
  • Antony is cheerful, behaving "like a man of steel"
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Act 4 Scene 5

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      • Antony recieves news that Enobarbus has defected, and sends his treasure after him
  • Antony's admission for error heightens sympathy for him as does his response to Enobarbus's defection
  • his generosity is prompted by knowledge of his own folly and guilt. "O, my fortunes have/corrupted honest men!"
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Act 4 Scene 6

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      • In Caesar's camp, Enobarbus recieves his treasures from Antony
  • makes him feel a cute guilt for disloyalty. He determines that he will "go seek/some ditch wherein to die"
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Act 4 Scene 7

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      • Antony is victorious
  • Caesar retires in trouble
  • Antony + Scarrus enter wounded but jubilant, boasting of victory
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Act 4 Scene 8

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      • Antony enters Alexandria and triumphantly greets Cleopatra
  • thanks troops, greets Cleo and asks her to kiss the hand of Scarrus. She replies she will give him a suit of solid gold armor.
  • Antony gives a vibrant speech in which he asks Cleo to walk through the streets of Alexandria, to the sound of celebratory trumpets.
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Act 4 Scene 9

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      • The death of Enobarbus
  • dramatic scene change from celebrations in Alexandria to hushed quiet of Caesar's camp - on the same night
  • Two watchmen are talking about days defeat when they come across Enobarbus in a state of accute depression
  • Enobarbus poignantly addresses the moon, the "sovereign mistress of true melancholy" - the moon is associated with mental instability and madness - he asks the moon for repetance and Antony's forgiveness
  • He doesn't seek to excuse his fault/wrongdoing
  • He dies and watchmen take his body away
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Act 4 scene 10+11

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      • preparations for a second sea battle
  • 2 short scenes give notice next battle is to be fought at sea - these are Caesar's plans
  • Antony confident he will beat Caesar in any element
  • Caesar gives orders that land battle to be avoided unless Antony attacks first
  • implication is that ANtony's tactics do not match his other soldierly virtues
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Act 4 Scene 12

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      • Cleopatra's fleet deserts, resulting in a second and final rout by sea
  • in the extremity of his anger, Antony adopts the unsympathetic Roman view of Cleopatra, calling her a gypsy and a whore
  • In calling her a "charm" and saying that she is a "grave charm/whose eye becked forth my wars" - suggests the dark side of her enchantment
  • later calls her a witch, recalling Caesar's comment "Cleopatra/Hath nodded him to her"
  • associated of Antony with the mythical Hercules is well made when Antony says "the shirt of Nesus is upon me" - he sees himself being destroyed by Cleo as Hercules was destroyed by his lover Deianeira
  • Ironic contrast between scenes in which Antony is loyal to his followers and isnpires their loyalty, and the sudden change of fortune in which he sees his followers fawning to Caesar
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Act 4 Scene 13

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      • Cleo retreats to the monument
  • runs to her funeral monument to hide from Antony's wrath
  • she sends Charmian to tell Antony that she has committed suicide with his name the last word on her dying lips, and to observe how he takes the news
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Act 4 Scene 14

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      • Antony attempts suicide
  • the mistaken thought that Cleo has thrown in her lot with Caesar unhinges Antony -"Here I am Antony/Yet cannot hold this visible shape"
  • the thought of her suicide disarms him further -"The sevenfold shield of Ajax cannot keep/this battery from my heart"
  • the suicide of the loyal Eros raises sympathy for Antony, who inspires loyalty, but is it then contrasted with the calculated prudence of Decretas in taking Antony's sword
  • with his life as a soldier at the end, "no more a solider" Antony becomes like a "bridegroom" in his death and runs toward it "As to a lover's bed" - he has no reproach when he finds Cleo has decieved him 
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Act 4 Scene 15

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      • Antony dies in Cleopatra's arms
  • Antony bought to the monument
  • Cleo will not come down - fears she will be captured
  • Antony tells her not to trust anyone around Caesar, but Proculeius
  • Cleo says she will put her trust in her own hands
  • Antony pronounces his own epitath -"a Roman by a Roman/Valiantly vanquished"
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Act 5 Scene 1

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      • Caesar hears of Antony's death
      • Caesar assures an Egyptian messenger of his goodwill towards Cleo
  • words of Decretas + tribute of Caesar uphold the dignity of Antony - although the tone less exalted
  • Decretas is changing sides and Maecenas perceptively remarks that Caesar's tears are the consequence of seeing his own fate potentially  mirrored in Antony
  • Caesar is not so overcome by the news that he allows emotion to interfere with the business of the moment, so the interrupting messenger is deal with straight away
  • his response is political: he will do anything to make sure Cleo survives to grace his triumphant return to Rome
  • audience never unsure about Caesar's motives, even if Cleo has to guess at them
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Act 5 Scene 2

lines 1-62

  •  Cleopatra commits suicide to defeat Caesar and join Antony
  • Cleo seems resolved on suicide at the beginning of the scene
  • misfortune, she says, gives her a better perspective on life
  • she then seems to be trying to establish exactly what Caesar's intentions are
  • In answer to Proculeius's question about what she demsn of Caesar, she replies that "majesty, to keep decorum, must/ No less than beg a kingdom" - playing for time, or genuinely seeing if she can stay intact?
  • Cleo's attempt with the dagger may be interpreted as an impulsive instict when cornered - not clear if directed toward captors or herself
  • what is clear in this scene is Cleo's fear of humiliation as she contemplates being paraded through Rome before the judging eye of Octavia
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Act 5 Scene 2

lines 62-110

  • whatever evidence that Cleo may be preoccupied with her own safety, her dream of Antony provides contrary evidenc of her passion grandly represented in her poetic imagination
  • "It's past the size of dreaming" - no mere dream could equal the reality.
  • on contrary her words suggest an awareness that the dream is but a dream and doesn't correspond to reality.
  • She sets 'fancy' above nature, but then says "yet t'imagination/An Antony were nature's piece 'gainst fancy/condemning shadows quite" - An Antony that she imagined would be nature's masterpiece, superior to anything imagined, discrediting the shadowy figments of the imagination.
    • This speech has similarities with Enobarbus's speech about Cleo(2.2)
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Act 5 Scene 2

lines 111-226

  • element of shadow-boxing between Cleo and Caesar
  • we know his intentions so we can see his political manouvering when he seeks to release Cleo at the expense of Antony
  • When Cleo acknowledges "frailties which have before/often shamed our sex" - she does not put the blame on Antony
  • not clear if she keeps back some treasure as she wishes to fool Caesar in to thinking she wants to live, or whether she really does want to live.
  • After Caesar leaves she says he is all words, and her whispers to Charmian, to judge from Charmian's reply, concern arrangements to be made for her suicide
  • Dollabella enters and tells Caesar arrangement: Caesar will journey through Syria; within 3 days Cleo+children will be sent ahead.
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Act 5 Scene 2

lines 226-327

  • Cleo is sure of Caesar's plan to make a theatrical exhibition of her, so she contrives her own pageant by which she will defeat his intentions and retain her own dignity - her death is accompanied by the ceremonial ritual associated with a coronation
  • Lesser characters have a part to play in the climax
    • The clown with verbial fumbling and innuendo injects a comic note
    • maid servants loyalty and affection help give a human touch and exalt Cleo in Charmian's touching tribute as a "lass unparalleled"
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Act 5 Scene 2

lines 328-64

  • Caesar's reaction to Cleo's death, which defeats his purposes, recalls that of Mark Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar on hearing the death of Brutus
  • his final solemn and dignified rhetoric sets the seal upon the lovers' story
  • not out of character that he preserves for himself a measure of glory in their end
  • the speech serves his purpose in the high Roman fashion
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