Antony And Cleopatra Analysis

1371 Words6 Pages
Matthew Neuhorn
Question one:
What is the Roman perception of Egypt? Should we have the same perception?

The contrasts between Rome (west) and Egypt (East) are vastly evident in Antony and Cleopatra. The contrasts between these two seemingly opposite Empires are represented by characters central to the play, such as Octavius Caesar from the Rome and Cleopatra from Egypt. The protagonist Antony is somewhat caught up in the middle of the feud between these two Empires, and faces an internal battle between duty and personal desires.

The Wests (Roman) ideology is threatened by the East (Egypt) as is set out by Philo, who states that Mark Antony has been led away from his duties to Rome by “a gipsy’s lust” (I.i.10). Caesar furthermore
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Antony and Cleopatra’s love is so powerful that it draws Antony away from his duties of military endeavors for Rome and towards the pleasure he seeks and experiences whilst being with Cleopatra and remaining in Egypt. Antony is believed to be a military hero in the eyes of Rome and his fellow triumvirs until it is seen that Antony has abandoned his people and duties, “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch / Of the ranged empire fall” (I.i.35–36) for a more pleasurable life in Egypt. Antony is fighting an inner battle of reason versus emotion, reason being the service to his country and emotion being following his true love Cleopatra. This contrast between reason and emotion is linked to the contrasts between Egypt and Rome as Antony is constantly fighting between his duty and military glory he has worked so hard for compared to his longing for indulgence and love for Cleopatra. Octavia is presented as a almost polar opposite to Cleopatra and also has power as she is able to mend the relationship between the triumvirs, at least for a while, “knit [their] hearts / With an unslipping knot” (II.ii.132–133). Octavia and Cleopatra represent different civilizations in the play both women are after Antony’s heart but are of different personalities such as Cleopatra being exceptionally beautiful and Octavia is far plainer looking. Cleopatra is a leader and will stand up for herself compared to Octavia who in contrast is far more emotionless and detached, Octavia is the “love and pity” of every Roman heart
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