How the Conflict Between Roman Duty And Egyptian Sensuousness Develops The Tragedy Of Antony And Cleopatra Comments: More focus on final scene was expected.

Essay by robo65ukA, December 2003

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Antony epitomizes the traditional tragic hero. The elements that constitute Antony's tragic standing are centrally developed by the conflict between Roman duty and Egyptian sensuousness. The audience empathises with the nature of his demise, as it deems Antony a morally respectable person, and can understand his downfall as a result of the conflict.

The conflict embodies his tragic flaw, which is his stubbornness in trying to achieve an elusive compromise between his duty to Rome and his passion for Cleopatra. Antony's priorities repeatedly sway in favour of Rome and then Cleopatra indeterminably and uncompromisingly. The audience experiences catharsis upon witnessing the protagonist's demise in light of this weakness, as his sense of honour catalyses it, leaving the spectator feeling morally inferior. Antony and Cleopatra's first exchange depicts Antony as a man ruled by passion with reckless disregard to the importance of his duty. When Messenger greets him with news from Rome, he responds hostilely retorting 'Grates me! The Sum!', expressing his disinterest in Roman affairs.

Cleopatra teases Antony, persuading him he should attend to his duty. This provokes him to counter her pseudo advice, and speak hyperbolically of his contempt for Rome and 'The nobleness of life' with Cleopatra in Egypt. He over-exaggeratedly expresses his lack of concern for the Roman Empire, exclaiming 'Let Rome in Tiber melt'. These words stand- out as being particularly hyperbolic, as they constitute grand imagery of Rome's supposed vulnerability. He then stresses its fragility in his absence, retorting 'Kingdoms are clay'. He extends his hyperbole to the extent of claiming a certain 'nobleness' about his affair with Cleopatra exalts the 'mutual pair' to 'stand up peerless' in the world. The prominence of this speech as a deliberate exaggeration is magnified in the midst of the more contained and convincing speeches of Philo...