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Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra Essay Sample

Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra demonstrates the turmoil of love and politics; resulting in an untimely death for both Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. From the beginning it is evident that the relationship between Mark Anthony and Cleopatra is controversial. Mark Anthony is primarily conflicted by his love for Cleopatra and his duties ruling the Roman Empire. Yet his love for Cleopatra is demonstrated as he takes his own life to be with her in the afterlife.

Mark Anthony is one of the rulers of Rome and Cleopatra is the Queen of Egypt. Both come from different cultures and regions of the world. Although the year this story is set in is never provided; strong differentiations are evident between Eastern and Western cultures. The period is further thought to be a contributor to the pressures that Cleopatra and Mark Anthony face. This is exemplified in the statement, “the vast containing opposites of Rome and Egypt, the World and the Flesh” (Stewart 2007 p. 21). Thus, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony live in two separate worlds that would not fully accept their relationship. Furthermore, it is questionable if the love sustained between Cleopatra and Anthony could survive the cultural differences. This is evident as Mark Anthony worries that the “strong Egyptian fetters I must break, Or lose myself in dotage” (Shakespeare 1969 p. 14).

Despite the cultural inabilities to accept their relationship Mark Anthony and Cleopatra become involved with each other. They exhibit high levels of passion. Despite this passion, there is an overall lack of trust between the lovers.

Throughout the story, the roles of both Cleopatra and Mark Anthony differ. This is further exemplified through their deaths. Although both committed suicide; the manner in which they die in what is considered to be a noble death differs. Mark Anthony kills himself with a sword; when he believes Cleopatra has died. Cleopatra uses a poisonous snake. Despite these differences; the love between then remains. The story concludes with the lovers being buried next to each other.

References

Shakespeare William (1969) Anthony and Cleopatra. New York: Forgotten Books.

Steward A. (2007) Lives and Letters in Anthony and Cleopatra. Shakespeare Studies 123 (1) 19-27.