Powerplay in Shakespeare's, 'Antony and Cleopatra'

Essay by dj_hoboHigh School, 12th gradeA, May 2004

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Antony and Cleopatra

Throughout the play, Antony and Cleopatra, the charactors' use and manipulation of power have certain impacts on their decisions and their lives. Right from the outset, the audience is made aware of certain plays on power and the impact this has on the delicate relationships in the play. The plays theme of power play circulates mostly around the politics surrounding Antony and the Triumvirs and Antony's relationship with Cleopatra and the impact of this.

The opening of the play with Philo's comments on Antony's transformation from 'the triple pillar of the world' into 'a strumpet's fool' due to a 'gypsy' depicts, not only the power of Cleopatra over Antony but also the impact this has on their countrymen, for the ability of Cleopatra to manipulate Antony and her influence over him are crucial parts of the play. That is not to say, however that Cleopatra's influence over Antony is purely her manipulation of the 'magical' power she holds over him, but rather Antony's love for her is so strong, and their love together is so strong it is inevitable that Antony is held spellbound by his lover.

In the beginning Antony has no desire to return to his governing land of Rome, even after pressure from the other Triumvirs he remains in Egypt, continuing his affair with Cleopatra. He dismisses his duties, saying, 'let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall' But when a messenger delivers news of the death of his wife he begins to feel that he might 'lose his dotage' and that perhaps the cause of his wife's death is one that his ' idleness doth hatch'. He becomes torn between his head and his heart, between his Roman duties and his pleasure. Although Cleopatra has a...