Antony and Cleopatra
How does Shakespeare present Antony and Cleopatra's relationship?
Antony and Cleopatra’s love for one another is the prominent theme throughout the play, and although both characters profess to an incomparable “peerless” love, they encourage doubt in the audience by acting in a manner that appears to contradict this. This is demonstrated by Cleopatra’s bullying, manipulative manner and also with the ease with which Antony dismisses their relationship in front of Caesar and his marriage to Octavia. Ultimately, Shakespeare intended for the audience to question the genuineness of Antony and Cleopatra’s feelings, to explore what really makes a loving relationship, and where the lines between love and desire (whether this be for power, sex or adoration) blur.
One of the themes that Shakespeare uses to promote suspicion within the audience as to the genuineness of Cleopatra’s feelings, is the controlling, belittling way in which she treats Antony. This is presented immediately with the introduction of the protagonists onto the stage, as Cleopatra asks Antony “If it be love indeed, tell me how much”. With such an early indication of Cleopatra’s demanding attitude, the audience quickly learns of the dynamics of their relationship, and Cleopatra’s selfish role within this. Shakespeare further prepares...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 932 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7487 literature essays, 2119 sample college application essays, 310 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in