Enobarbus – What significance does he have in the play: Antony & Cleopatra

Essay by Robbo101 May 2014

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Enobarbus - What significance does he have in the play: Antony & Cleopatra

Enobarbus is a significant character in Shakespeare's play and contributes to the drama in a number of ways. He is sympathetic to Antony from the start and is his most loyal and devoted friend which allows him to speak freely, even when he is critical of Antony.

Shakespeare is able to use Enobarbus as a vehicle for the truth and common sense. When Antony's rational thinking escapes him, Enobarbus is not afraid to speak his mind and give his objective view. This can be seen near the start of the play when Antony wishes he had never met Cleopatra, instead of agreeing with his superior officer, Enobarbus offers the rejoinder, had that been the case, Antony would have 'missed a wonderful piece of work' . This also shows Enobarbus is not your usual Roman misogynistic man like his fellow countrymen Philo and Demetrius.

In fact, Enobarbus mirrors Antony's love of the Egyptian lifestyle 'bring in the banquet quickly. Wine enough Cleopatra's health to drink'

Enobarbus could also be seen as an instrument to highlight the exaggerated lives and relationship of Antony and Cleopatra. In Act 2 Scene 2, Enobarbus delivers one of Shakespeare's most famous speeches, and it changes the whole tone of the play dramatically. Up until this speech, the reader could only guess about the mythical connections that bind Antony and Cleopatra together ' The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne, burned on the water. The poop was beaten gold...age could not wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety...' This poetic speech not only highlight's Cleopatra's mythical god like qualities, but emphasise the superior qualities Antony possesses, because only a truly prominent figure of a man could conquer the love of a...