Antony and Cleopatra

Character Development in Act Two of Antony and Cleopatra 12th Grade

With six of its seven scenes set in the West, Act Two of 'Antony and Cleopatra' by William Shakespeare largely concerns the politics of Rome. Act Two is important in further developing the characters of Antony, Octavius, Cleopatra and Enobarbus. Within this Act, we find, overall, a more negative portrayal of the eponymous characters through their own words and actions. We find similar pictures of Octavius and Enobarbus to Act One: of men characterised by their stoicism and wisdom respectively.

The change in setting from Egypt to Rome brings with it a change in Antony: we witness more clearly his 'Roman' side. From Antony's perspective, this Act is one dominated by the concerns of power. Shakespeare places him in a political context and allows the audience to determine in greater depth his political identity and status through his interaction with the fellow triumvirates.

The most interesting and, ultimately, crucial portrayal in these scenes is that of his relationship with Octavius. It is through this relationship that Shakespeare explores Antony's thirst for power, with the friction between the two men indicating that they both desire the same thing: supremacy.

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