Powerply: Antony and Cleopatra

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Antony and Cleopatra
Essay Question:
How is power play illustrated in the behaviour of Antony and Cleopatra and Antony and Caesar in Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’? In your answer make close reference to the text. (600-800 words) The strength of the powerplay used in Shakespeare’s play ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ becomes evident in many different situations as characters assert themselves over others to create the outcome they desire. In ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ this dominance is displayed in multiple relationships, however the two main power struggles exist between Antony and Cleopatra in their relationship and Antony and Caesar in their struggle to gain power. This use of power to control another eventually ends in tragedy with the deaths of both Antony and Cleopatra and in the process their devoted servants. “

In Antony’s relationship with Cleopatra quite often the use of power comes from Cleopatra manipulating Antony to agree with the way she wants events to occur. The utilization of powerplay between these two characters begins very early in the play, first showing itself in Act 1 Scene 1, when Antony refuses to hear the Roman messenger and to instead spend time with Cleopatra. This is the first indication of how strong a hold Cleopatra has over Antony to make him reject his Roman duties as a Triumvir. However, Cleopatra’s influence over Antony can only extend so far and the limits of her control are shown in Act 1 Scene 3. She aims to prevent Antony from announcing his return to Rome and at the same time to convince him to stay, first by feigning illness then taunting him. When Antony finally does state his motives for leaving Cleopatra, to attend Fulvia’s funeral, she increases her taunting notably declaring:

O most false love!
Where will be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill

With sorrowful water? Now I see, I see,
In Fulvia’s death how mine received shall be. (Act 1, Scene 3. Lines 63-65) In stating this Cleopatra aims to...
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