Topics: Mark Antony, Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra VII Pages: 2 (1235 words) Published: April 14, 2015
‘Enobarbus, the voice of common sense’ By considering Shakespeare’s dramatic presentation of Enobarbus evaluate this view Despite being a character, who, in terms of plot development, is less significant than the protagonists from the ruling classes, Domitius Enobarbus is nevertheless a crucial character in understanding William Shakespeare’s, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. Whilst the majority of Shakespeare’s characters within this play are based heavily on their descriptions as they appear in Plutarch’s, ‘Lives’ Enobarbus is contrastingly a character who is almost entirely formed from Shakespeare’s own imagination, this being testimony to Enobarbus’ dramatic necessity. He is valued not only as a subordinate officer to Mark Antony but equally as a close friend giving him a unique social as well as locational mobility, since being a soldier he is not bound to a particular place by responsibility in the same way as Antony, Cleopatra or Caesar. As a result Enobarbus is close to omnipresent during the play and Shakespeare uses this by making Enobarbus the play’s rather comical commentator. Perhaps one of the most neutral characters in the play (favouring neither Rome nor Egypt) Enobarbus voices: the truth and cynical perspectives when they don’t want to be heard; his own prophecies; and an equal critique of both Roman and Egyptian values leading him to be seen, as G. Wilson Knight describes it as, ‘the spokesman of enlightened common sense’. Although his suicidal fate may appear to counter this description, is it really a sufficient reason for us to doubt Enobarbus’ wisdom. Enobarbus often takes it upon himself to vehicle of truth offering reasonable prophecies concerning the character’s fates. For example, when the triumvirate have entered into negotiations on Antony’s return to Rome Enobarbus is quick to remark, ‘if you borrow one another’s love for the instant, you may, when you hear no more words of Pompey, return it again’. Here, he exposes the superficiality of...
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