Antony and Cleopatra

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‘Antony and Cleopatra'.

The simplicity of the Jacobean Stage and its lack of scenery focused the audiences' attention on the actors. Discuss how Shakespeare created the grandeur of the Worlds of Rome and Egypt, and the magnificence of the protagonists, through his use of imagery in ‘Antony and Cleopatra'.

The play of ‘Antony and Cleopatra' was written in 1606, and is mainly set in their respective worlds of Rome and Egypt. ‘Antony and Cleopatra,' like Shakespeare's other plays was written to be performed on the Jacobean Stage. In Shakespeare's time there was a lack of scenery and stage props, but he compensated with his use of language that he gave to the audience, to assist them, bring to life the characters, plot and the setting in their own minds. That was the past, here and now in the present, we go to the Cinema, which is full of special effects, computerised graphics, and exciting camera shots, which all goes towards creating a typical Hollywood blockbuster film. With ‘Antony and Cleopatra this is not necessary as it is still more effective on the stage than on screen, which is due to the elaborate language used, which tests our imagination. Shakespeare's plays are written in dramatic verse and his use of imagery is very effective, as it engages the audiences' attention, to give them a deeper meaning and reality to each and every character. In order to analyse how Shakespeare uses imagery to describe Antony and his world of Rome, and Cleopatra and her world of Egypt, it is necessary to look at how he breathes life into their larger than life personalities by the use of powerful, vivid language.

The opening speech raises the audiences' awareness of the Roman view towards Antony and Cleopatra's relationship. "You shall see him The triple pillar of the world transformed into a strumpet's fool," which ultimately means that Antony is Cleopatra's jester, that would do anything for her and that his imminent downfall is due to Cleopatra the "Strumpet". Mark Antony's character at the beginning of the play, is that of a great, powerful, triumvir whose heart has been entrapped by Cleopatra's enchanting personality. The audience hears many good things about Antony's character, which is shown through his great past, "It is reported thou didst eat strange flesh which some did die look on," which informs us that he was a great warrior which evoke feelings of respect towards him. Antony is an inspirational triumvir who inspired love from his followers, which is almost like a biblical figure. His Christ like personality is shown in Act 4 Scene 2, which is known as Antony's last supper, "To-morrow soldier by sea and land I'll fight: on I will bathe my dying honour in the blood shall make it live again." Unlike Octavius Caesar who acts cold and authoritative towards his soldiers, Antony stirs up feelings of respect and loyalty from his followers. There is much mythological imagery related to how Antony used to be a great God-like character, "Have glowed like plated Mars," which shows he is a strong and admired character which is almost like a super-being. This is a powerful piece of imagery, as Mars was the God of War, therefore we feel that Antony must be a great warrior and a loved hero, so Antony's warrior status is depicted by the mythological imagery. "...Now bend, now turn," shows us how Antony has lost his respectable god like imagery through his obsession with Cleopatra, which emasculates him. He also believes that Hercules is one of his ancestors and acts as his guardian angel, which relates Antony to the God's making him seem more of a super-human and reinforces the image of his strength, bravery and indestructible personality. However, when the soldiers fearfully say that Hercules has left Antony, we feel that this is a sign that Antony's end is near, "Tis the God Hercules who Antony loved now leaves him." In his death we see Antony's strength brought through by Cleopatra, "The...
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