Sunday, September 15, 2019

Explore the Ways In Which Shakespeare Presents Cleopatra Essay

An Elizabethan audience would have already had preconceived ideas about Cleopatra, as this play is based on a true story, and Cleopatra was commented on in ‘North’s Plutarch’, as a â€Å"Pesilent plague†, meaning that she brings death, panic and havoc to wherever she went. Also the audience would have already had preconceived ideas of Cleopatra, due to oral stories, which were passed from generation to generation. In these stories, she was addressed as a high-class prostitute, who lured men, into her bed, so that she could sleep with them to get whatever she wanted, this included Caesar, She had no morality. The stories say that she seduced Antony, and she overwhelmed him. The audience therefore would have been biased against Cleopatra and feel sympathy for Antony. Most of these stories would have been passed on by word of mouth and she would have been cursed on many times, which ‘brain washed’ the next generation and so on. Shakespeare presents Cleopatra as a character of â€Å"Infinite variety† and tries to give a balanced point of view, so as there are not any biased opinions against her. He keeps it balanced by using some multi-facetted approaches; when Antony was dying, she said, â€Å"There is nothing remarkable Beneath the visiting moon† She is saying that now that Antony is dead, there is nothing worth living for. Here it is presented that she does genuinely love Antony, the problem now being that the audience’s ideas are swaying between good and bad, due to her words and actions. But she also says, â€Å"if you find him sad, say I am dancing, if in mirth report that I am sudden sick† Here it is clearly proving that Cleopatra’s love seems that of a teenagers lust or ‘crush’, where she is simply playing mind games with Antony. By now the audience would find Cleopatra unpredictable, confused and unsure about her being genuine for her love to Antony or not. The audience is left to make up their own minds about Cleopatra and certain questions may arise, such as, does she really love Antony? The audience would already have their own preconceived ideas of Cleopatra, which could have been planted in the minds of an Elizabethan audience, through morality stories. The audience might have known that the Roman Empire was a very strict and political place and era, and Antony was not abiding by the Roman standards or laws, because of the attraction of Cleopatra, who they could blame for the downfall. Also during Roman rule, and for centuries later, women were frowned upon even if they spoke so what would the Elizabethan audience think of the audacity, let alone tone of Cleopatra’s dialogue. In the first scene of Antony and Cleopatra, two of Antony’s soldiers in his army, (Philo and Demetrious) discuss Antony’s enslavement to Cleopatra. They say that which is confirmed by the entrance of Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra shows insecurity, towards Antony straight from her opening line â€Å"If it be love indeed, tell me how much†, Antony goes on to say â€Å"Let Rome in timber melt and the wide arch of the rang’d empire fall! Here is my space. † Here Antony is saying forget Rome I want to stay in Egypt, which shows how Cleoptara had already influenced Antony and even after this strong image and speech, she is still not impressed.

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