Antony and Cleopatra: Heroic Act, Post Heroic Age

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Q: Describe Antony and Cleopatra as a heroic act written in a post-heroic age.

Antony and Cleopatra is a tragic play written by William Shakespeare; embodying the basic notions of most of the Jacobean tragedies that occurred during the reign of King James the first of England. The story follows a historical imitation of the events that occurred during the reign of the Egyptian and Roman Empire under the power of Cleopatra of Alexandria and the Triumvirs i.e. Ceaser, Antony and Lepidus of Athens. Antony, one of the main Triumvirs of Rome, falls in love with the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, stirring up an affair seeped in political turmoil and war. Antony, torn apart between his duties to his kingdom and his love for Cleopatra, finds himself in the midst of the tragic remembrance of many of Shakespeare’s leading male characters like Othello, Kind Lear, and Macbeth etc. A man, destined towards an impregnable end due to one characteristic drawback, one fatal flaw. To understand the topic of “Heroism” and “Post Heroism” one must go back to the origin of the “Tragic Play”. The idea of tragedy comes from the Aristotelian school of thought. Tragedy as an art form, from the earliest works of Western play writes like Homer and Sophocles; derives itself from a materialist mind, choosing to harness the problems of the inevitable in heroic, noble, aristocratic individuals. It is a matter of ‘masculinity’, noble warriors, fighting for a single minded, subjective socio political motive, devoid of the scepticism, sensibility and democratic ideologies that exist today. It is also associated with myth, sacrifice and rituals, adhering to the rules and predestined location of the individual on a higher, transcendental platform. Adherence to a religious, or god like following. Examples of puritan ideas of tragedy are: Antigone, Agamemnon, Oedipus etc. Antony and Cleopatra was written in the late 16th century AD, during the reign of King James the first, making it a generalised...
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