The truly tragic figure in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is Cleopatra. Discuss

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Barbara Everett rightly claims that the play is continually suggestively of different kinds and categories of drama. This is not simply a tragedy and no character is simply and truly tragic. However, Cleopatra, Antony and Enobarbus have tragic elements grandeur, nobility, fateful misjudgements and a fall from the heights as well as lesser qualities. It would be true to add, though, that Cleopatra is the dominating presence in the play.

Even the hard-bitten Enobarbus is captivated by her, telling Antony he is blest to have met her. In his great speech in Act 2:2, she is presented as queen, ricer goddess, rival to Venus and exquisite work of art. Gold, silver, mermaids, nymphs, perfumes and the enchanting sound of flutes combine to create a sensual paradise. This picture-painting is one f the chief means whereby Shakespeare establishes Cleopatras greatness; not moral or spiritual, but into the realm of myth: Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/ Her infinite variety. Antony, the triple pillar of the world, is left whistling to thair and so, by bathetic contrast, her commanding presence is accentuated.

After Antonys death her speeches of grief carry her into the tragic sphere since they piercingly convey her desolation: The odds is gone, /And there is noting left remarkable/ Beneath the visiting moon. Equals Macbeths Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow as an expression of devastating loss and apprehension of meaninglessness. Her dream of Antony is the supreme expression of her love for him his features kept their course and lighted/ the little O, the earth and coming, as it does, after his death, this expression contains not only love, but the tragic realisation of what she has lost: the whole world.

But is the final effect truly or solely tragic? I A Richards claims that if a play has a compensating Heaven to offer the tragic hero, [the effect] is fatal. Cleopatra and Antony look forward to reunion in the Elysian fields and so, how can we feel the...
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