Antony and Cleopatra

To What Extent is Shakespeare's Portrayal of Cleopatra Accurate? 11th Grade

While some individuals remember Cleopatra as a queen of Egypt with leadership skills better than any man, others emphasise her seduction of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony (Harold et.al, n.d). In his play The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare manages to portray both these aspects of Cleopatra’s personality, which has contributed to debates over whether Shakespeare intended the play to be read as the betrayal and subsequent fall of a great general, or as an epic love story (Fitz, 1997). Shakespeare highlights Cleopatra’s power as a seductress and demonstrates how she was able to use her attractiveness to manipulate powerful men. He also portrays her as a strong woman through poetic descriptions of her personality, but contrasts these with moments of insecurity and weakness which emphasises her humanity to appeal to a patriarchal audience.

Shakespeare chooses to emphasise Cleopatra’s power as a seductress right from the beginning of the play. It opens with soldiers Demetrius and Philio discussing how Antony’s love for Cleopatra has turned him into “strumpet’s fool” (Shakespeare, Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, Scene 1 Line 2) “his goodly eyes, that o’er the files and musters of war, have glowed like plated Mars,...

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