Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare by Martin Wine (auth.)

By Martin Wine (auth.)

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Extra resources for Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

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Both agree that Pompey had the worst of the bargain; but, as Menas admits, 'We looked not for Mark Antony here' (108-9). Menas, it turns out, is under the impression that Antony is married to Cleopatra; but, when he hears otherwise, he agrees with Enobarbus that Antony married Octavia for convenience ('occasion') only (133-5). Enobarbus then offers the intriguing insight that Octavia, who is supposed to be the means of bringing Caesar and Antony together, will, because of her 'holy, cold, and still' disposition (125), turn out to be the instrument that sets them quarelling again (129-32).

Antony is a study in contrasts as blinding self-pity and and honest self-awareness war in his soul. Thoughts of suicide at the beginning of the scene (9-10) give way to stoical 'scorn' of 'Fortune' at the end (73-4). At the same time he thinks of his loyal followers with magnanimity. The 'ruin' of Antony lies in the first half of these contrasts: a man 'unqualitied with very shame' (44), that is, unmanned, emptied of those qualities that are indicative of his true self. This Antony is a man who, in his own word, has 'fled' himself (7).

Of which Caesar is the representative man. 69-71). Of course, no one, probably not even Cleopatra, understands Antony's thinking or the code that animates his behaviour. Caesar's 'dare' is a challenge to Antony's old-fashioned sense of honour. The scene ends with an image of time giving birth 'Each minute' (81) as events develop rapidly. Antony is unable to keep pace. Is there a suggestion in this scene that Antony has already half-accepted the inevitability of his defeat as a new era is about to overtake him?

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