Antony and Cleopatra

Meeting and Conversation as Character Development in Antony & Cleopatra

In Shakespeare, first impressions are often an implicit demonstration of a main theme. In Antony and Cleopatra, the first meeting of Antony and Octavius Caesar is no exception. In this reunion of the triumvirate, the three leaders of Rome, Shakespeare addresses the ideas of duty and honor through the dialogue between Antony and Caesar. The significance of this scene lies in its illustration of the triumvirs' characters, which also amplifies the theme of duty versus desire. To underscore the contrast between Antony and Caesar, it is important to emphasize their approach to the conversation as it augurs the eve of an imminent power struggle.

Antony and Caesar have their first meeting in Act Two, Scene Two. Up to this point, Antony has been idling in Egypt and neglecting his duties as a triumvir. The news that his wife has died, however, brings him back to Rome with some sense of conviction about his inactivity. This is seen as Antony evaluates his own behavior when told of his wife's death, saying "Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know, / My idleness doth hatch" (1.2.129-130). Little does Antony realize how accurately his speech foretells the future, for as he is making his way back to Rome the play gives...

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