The character of Cleopatra Essay
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Cleopatra has many sides to her personality, which are brought out by her moods and who she is speaking too. In this essay I will be looking at how Cleopatra treats her friends and servants, how she is coping with Antony being gone, how people react to her and also a close look at the language she uses. At the beginning of the scene Cleopatra speaks with Mardian, her official singing eunuch. She loves to tease Mardian about how he cannot please her, and in return he plays up to be this ‘faulty’ person, which is expected of him.
Mardian, unlike Antony, is a man she can control due to him being castrated. She complements him on this, ”Tis well for thee That, being unseminared, they freer thoughts may not fly fourth of Egypt’ here she could be saying two things to Mardian, firstly that he is lucky to be free of the sexual longings that make her want to be with Antony, but also that it’s lucky for him being a eunuch, that he does not think of leaving Egypt (like Antony has) – this shows a quite threatening violent side to Cleopatra where as before she was actually being quite kind as she complemented Mardian.
This is a clear indicator of how Cleopatra has so many different sides to her that sometimes you do not know how her words are meant to be read, is she being kind or threatening? Her relationship with Charmian is quite different however; Charmian is one of Cleopatra’s attendants, her ‘right hand girl’. Charmian and Cleopatra have a friendship, a friendship which is based on Charmian attending to Cleopatra’s needs and doing and saying whatever she wants.
However unlike Roman relationships, attendants play along ‘wittily’ with their masters. Near the end of the scene Cleopatra talks to Charmian about Antony and asks ‘Did I, Charmian, Ever love Caesar so? ‘, Charmian is quite out spoken in answer to this, calling Caesar brave (splendid) and then valiant even after Cleopatra showed her great disgust for this. Of course after this Charmian realises Cleopatra is not in the playing mood as she threatens to ‘give thee bloody teeth’ if she were to ever compare Antony to Julius Caesar again.
Charmian then returns to her ‘attendant’ personality and apologises to Cleopatra ‘your most gracious pardon, I Sing but after you’. The people surrounding Cleopatra have to change their personalities and moods to suit whatever mood Cleopatra is in, meaning Cleopatra’s friendship with Charmian is not really a friendship as Charmian can never truly be herself.