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Cleopatra throughout the play

Categories: Cleopatra

In the next scene the audience are taken to Rome. The pace quickens and the sentences get shorter. The characters become more serious and they use more authoritative words, words that relate to power and command like “our great competitor. ” “Kingdom… ” and “rebel to judgement. ” This shows a clear comparison to Egypt as the words and format is different in comparison to the earlier scenes in Egypt. In Egypt the language is calm and tranquil and the sentences are longer to emphasise this,” I take no pleasure in ought an eunuch has.

This quotation shows the light heartedness of the epicurean speech, as Cleopatra is mocking her eunuch and laughing and joking with her servants. However the language is not always like this. In later scenes we see a more aggressive side to Cleopatra. In this scene Caesar and Lepidus are talking to one another about Antony’s actions in Egypt. As Rome a city whose structure is duty, a city based on authority, they frown seriously on someone as powerful as Antony neglecting his duties.

Lepidus and Caesar feel betrayed as they feel Antony is disgracing their values. From this conversation I started to notice the conflict between Rome and Egypt, although this conflict seems to be one sided because Shakespeare doesn’t seem to show that Egypt has any abhorrence towards Rome. However, Shakespeare shows that Rome and Egypt have conflicting views, “Antony, leave thy lascivious wassails,” showing how Caesar views Egypt as being quite feeble and less important than Rome.

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Like Rome and Egypt, Antony and Cleopatra are presented in contrasting ways. Antony and Cleopatra are entwined in each others lives throughout the duration of the play, until their deaths at the end, but their different lifestyles, stoic and epicurean, resulted in jealousy. In the first scene Cleopatra is jealous of Antony’s wife Fulvia and she mocks and taunts Antony “if the scare-bearded Caesar have not sent his powerful mandate to you. ” “Do this or this… ” Cleopatra uses blunt and direct language, and speaks in this way to taunt and ridicule Antony.

Cleopatra frequently uses this style of direct speech when she is mocking others and when giving her opinion. She is also frank when interacting with others in her court as a part of everyday life. For example when Cleopatra has banter with her servant about his sexual impotence, “Thou eunuch Mardian! ” although she jokes with him she still has respect for them and they still have respect for her. “By your most gracious pardon, I sing but after you. ” I feel that this shows how Charmian has genuine respect for Cleopatra, and truly wishes to please her.

Egypt comes across as being inviting and friendly, and welcoming and warm. The only time we have seen this not being in action is when Cleopatra is faced with a Roman messenger, and then she becomes very unwelcoming and rude. “Speak… ” Another aspect that adds to the positive atmosphere is how Cleopatra jokes with servants. “I take no pleasure in ought an eunuch has. ” “Tis well for thee that, being unseminared. ” The servants in Egypt are allowed liberties, as they are involved with the regular banquets and Cleopatra respects them.

The language used between Cleopatra and the servants and vice versa would not be used in the Roman community, especially when the Romans speak to the servants. Roman servants are used to perform duties, to be loyal and subservient to leaders. Rome is shown as having strict rules and regulations which must be followed. The Romans have no respect whatsoever for their servants and at a banquet the Romans had a great feast and they gave the servants the waste food. “And they have earned the waste. ” This shows Caesar’s pure disrespect for the servants.

Another quotation that shows the Romans disrespect is when Antony says to a servant “you are a soldier only. ” I feel this quotation shows that Antony does not consider the servants as anything except labourers. Rome is strict on other virtues such as power, ambition, reputation, honour, integrity and above all loyalty which is highly valued. This is clearly shown when Caesar is questioning Antony’s loyalty and recalling how Antony was prior to Cleopatra. “And all this it wounds thine honour that I speak it now…

was bourne so like a soldier that thy cheek… ” I feel Shakespeare uses these images to create an idea of Antony’s great soldiership. In Egypt money and time are the objects that are to be spent and enjoyed. As Egypt is so carefree and tranquil, people can start to see why Antony is attracted to Cleopatra, and then to Egypt. Shakespeare uses different images to highlight the diverse characteristics of Rome and Egypt. These images are often shown through the actions of Antony and Cleopatra throughout the play.

In Act 2 Scene 2 Enonbarbus describes Cleopatra as a “dish” and throughout the play Cleopatra is compared to foods, as she is viewed as being food fit “for the Gods. ” Another comparison to food is when Enobarbus says, “and for his ordinary pays his heart… for what his eyes ate only. ” This shows how beautiful Cleopatra and how he can see what Antony sees in Cleopatra. He continues to compliment her by saying “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale… her infinite variety. ” This shows admiration and emphasises how Cleopatra does not seem to age. Food imagery is continually repeated by Enonbarbus when referring to Cleopatra.

This type of language is unusual in Rome as the language is quite dreamy and frivolous, like the kind of language that is used in Egypt, therefore contradicting Rome’s stoic language. Through the descriptions of Cleopatra, I feel that Shakespeare is trying give the reader a representation of Egypt, by giving complementary and admiring views of its queen. Cleopatra is in my opinion, a symbol for everything Egypt stands for. Egypt is presented as being calm, stress free and relaxed; however it is extremely volatile and has “endless attraction” just like its queen Cleopatra.

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Cleopatra throughout the play. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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