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This request displays Cleopatra’s dramatic, attention seeking and indulgent side. She can be very histrionic which becomes more evident throughout the scene. Cleopatra’s words also portray her as a very manipulative person, able to bend people to her will. Cleopatra’s unexpected actions are what fascinates Antony and keeps him drawn to her. This could partly be the reason why Antony’s Egyptian side has such a strong hold over him.
Furthermore, Cleopatra’s dramatic words accuse Antony of being unfaithful: “O, never was there queen/ So mightily betrayed!” This again shows Cleopatra as being manipulative, jealous and quarrelsome – a difficult aspect of her character. Her statement is very self-pitying and manipulative, she is accusing Antony and there is nothing he could say to please her. He cannot control or deal with her – possible part of what makes her so fascinating and intriguing. Therefore it can once again be seen that Shakespeare’s creation of Cleopatra as a manipulation and captivating character plays some part in Antony’s duality of character.
Her hold over her lover is too strong and is making Antony a more Egyptian, hedonistic lover than a true Roman of his past. The audience are first introduced to Antony through the comments of Philo at the very beginning of the play, and the audience are informed of the duality of character in Antony. Philo begins by describing how he feels that Antony’s love for Cleopatra is out of control and damaging him and his reputation: “Nay, but this dotage of our general’s/ O’erflows the measure.” Philo continues with:
“ His captain’s heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper, And is become the bellows and the fan To cool a gypsy’s lust.” This refers to Antony’s past greatness as a soldier – a true Roman hero. Philo feels like Antony’s love for Cleopatra has overpowered him and destroyed what he once was. Philo then describes Antony as one of “the triple pillar of the world transformed/ Into a strumpet’s fool.” This shows the Roman contempt for Cleopatra, which is conveyed throughout the play. None of the Romans have a good thing to say about her and disregard her. The hugely eminent and powerful, magnificent Antony has been utterly diminished by his infatuation and obsession with Cleopatra. Philo once again makes reference to Antony’s past greatness:
“Sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.” It reminds the audience how great Antony was as a great roman, a great leader, strong politician and statesman. Through the conversation of Philo and Demetrius, it can therefore be seen that Antony is indeed caught in a tug-of-war between his Roman and Egyptian loyalty ties. He is supposedly loyal to Rome, yet he is loyal to Cleopatra and the inhabitants of her Kingdom in Egypt.
In conclusion, it is the differing character’s comments and views that bring out the duality in Antony’s character in Act One. The comments from Antony uncover an underlying battle within himself, a battle fought by both his Egyptian and Roman side. Antony himself acts madly in love with Cleopatra, yet aside, he seems to know that his real loyalty lies with Rome, and his love with the queen can only lead to destruction and danger.
Octavius Caesar’s remarks inform the audience of Antony’s past as a great and respected soldier of Rome. This reinforces the audience’s view of Antony’s character division and allows the audience to fully appreciate the difficult choice that Antony will have to make. In addition, Cleopatra’s comments on her lover give the audience her true personality traits of being manipulative and dramatic. These qualities fascinate Antony and encourage his lust and strengthen his Egyptian loyalty ties. Finally, Philo’s own observations of Antony give the notion of Cleopatra being a poison that has transformed Antony from a fully pledged guardian of Rome to an irresponsible and pleasure seeking fool.