Antony and Cleopatra

Duality in Act One of Antony and Cleopatra 12th Grade

'Antony and Cleopatra' by William Shakespeare is a tragic play which centres around the renowned love affair of the eponymous characters and its political and personal repercussions. In Act One, Shakespeare uses both the distinction of time and place to portray the duality of Antony. The conflict within the protagonist is that between love and duty, fuelled by two separate internal forces: reason and emotion. It is this clash of Roman virtue and Egyptian vice that forms the core of the play. Inner conflict though it may be, as a prominent Roman general and statesman, it is in no way private; Antony's personal pursuits are laid bare across kingdoms for others to judge, both primary and secondary characters playing a pivotal role in illuminating both sides to his character through their reflections and opinions.

Once the paragon of Roman virtue, Mark Antony was an indispensable soldier to Julius Caesar, proving his military competence in campaigns in Gaul and Germany. The protagonist the audience meets in Act One is not this man. It is no longer Rome and heroism which dominate his thought and character, but the Egyptian lover at his side, the messengers from Octavius posing an occasional reminder of the empire he...

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