Wednesday, June 7, 2017

writing for 12 June: Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1.  In your assigned scene, find two seemingly disparate lines and explain how they actually work together.

Zeke, 1.1

At the beginning of the play Antony swoons over Cleopatra and attempts to explain how much she means to him after she says, “If it be love indeed, tell me how much” (AC 1.1.15).  While seemingly unconnected, Antony’s response to a summon from Caesar shows not only how he tries to grant her earlier request but also reveals his true feelings about Cleopatra.  Complaining about the messenger, Antony says, “Let Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch / Of the ranged empire fall.  Here is my place”  (AC 1.1.36-37).  He uses the intrusion as an attempt to further pronounce his affection for the queen, explaining that the empire is of no consequence compared to her. 
His dialogue also bares similarity to the Cleopatra’s earlier line.  In both instances, the person tries getting what they want verbally.  This alludes to future circumstances in the play where characters say one thing and then do something else.  For example, Antony agrees to marry another even though he has just professed his feelings for Cleopatra.  This also brings up speculation as to whether Antony actually loves her as much as he says he does.  If he truly did, he would have heard from Caesar’s messenger immediately when Cleopatra asked him to.  As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.  However, instead he chose to complain about the intrusion and sidestep her request by flattering her.  In this way, he is actually looking out for his own self-interests and not Cleopatra’s. 

Abbey 1.2

This scene starts out with Cleopatras two attendants, Charmin and Iras, asking a fortune-teller to reveal their futures. They are told they have the same fortune. Charming is furious and tells the fortune-teller off. Then Cleopatra comes into the room complaining that Antony, her lover, is now going to Rome again and not coming home. She sends a follower after him, but then changes her mind. He is coming back first so she runs to hide from him. A messenger then appears to give Anthony a message about loosing the battle, and says he has another message, however he doesn't really want to give that message. Anthony tells him to and he tells him that Anthonys wife, Fulvia, is dead. The follower that Cleopatra sent after Anthony arrives and tries to comfort him. However Anthony things that his wondering mind, and commitment to Cleopatra is the reason his wife is dead. Anthony then leaves and returns to Rome.

            The first line, or rather lines I choose was:

            “Our worser thoughts heavens mend. Alexas! (to SOOTHSAYER ) Come, his
            fortune, his fortune! Oh, let him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I
            beseech thee, and let her die too, and give him a worse, and let worse follow
            worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold!
            Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight,     
            good Isis, I beseech thee!(1.2.64-71)

            The second line I choose was:

            “Fulvia thy wife is dead.”  (1.2.131)

            The reason I choose these two lines is because while they may seem unrelated they come together quite nicely. The first set of lines is spoken by Charmin. She is very mad that her and Iras have the same fortunes. She then wishes that Fortune-teller will marry someone he can not satisfy, she will cheat on him, and then she dies. Iras does responds, and agrees, saying that he will get the fortune he deserves. I related it to the second line because moments after this all happens Anthony gets the news that his wife is dead. Here is Charmin and Iras, who are Cleopatras attendants wishing death to a mans wife. Then moments later Cleopatras lover gets the news his wife is dead. To me this seems like Shakespeare is setting this up for something, either that or it was complete coincidenceBut one will never know. Also they are wishing a cheating spouse on a man, saying it is the worse thing a spouse can do, when they know that their mistress is sleeping with a married man and he is a cheater. It all seems condescending when they know what is happening with Anthony and Cleopatra.

Laura 1.3

In 1.3, Cleopatra is looking for Antony and asks her attendant Alexas to find him. In instructing Alexas to retrieve Antony, she says “I did not send you. If you find him sad,/ Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report/ That I am sudden sick” (1.3.4-6). Cleopatra gives Alexas opposing states of being to report to Antony, but this is in line with her volatile and manipulative nature. Her instructions seem contradictory, but ultimately whatever Alexas tells Antony, it is intended to direct his attention back to Cleopatra, and perhaps also to create trouble. She cannot be satisfied by an even-keeled relationship with Antony. Rather, she seems to thrive off of creating disharmony between the two of them and provoking Antony’s anger. Her other attendant Charmian recognizes this, and advises Cleopatra that the way she treats Antony is probably not the best strategy for getting him to love her in return. She suggests that Cleopatra instead submit to Antony on every front, always letting him have his way. Cleopatra disagrees: “Thou teachest like a fool the way to lose him” (1.3.10). Cleopatra believes that an overly-theatrical game of cat-and-mouse is the best way to keep Antony’s affection. She demonstrates her tactic when Antony enters the scene and she suddenly becomes standoffish, telling him to stand farther away, insisting he’s betrayed her, and calling him a liar. She taunts him when he says that he must go, telling him that his love is fickle and that he has forgotten her. Though Antony seems to become angry with her, the scene resolves with Cleopatra acknowledging the game she’s been playing and asking Antony’s forgiveness, and she wishes him victory. Despite Charmian’s warning, Cleopatra’s method seems to work, at least for now—Antony takes his leave, but says that even as he goes, his heart remains with Cleopatra.

Kayla 1.4

“Our great competitor: from Alexandria/This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
The lamps of night in revel; is not more man-like/Than Cleopatra;”- Octavius
            “Let his shames quickly/Drive him to Rome: 'tis time we twain”. –Octavius
            Both of these lines, spoken by Octavius Caesar to Lepidus, are referencing to Antony. Caesar is upset and annoyed that Antony is currently spending his time living by Cleopatra’s side living in a luxurious and wasteful lifestyle. He condemns Antony, but at the same time with the second line he hopes that news of war will spur Antony into action and he will return home where Octavius hopes that he can train Antony to be a better soldier and leader.  This is preceding of course the events that will ultimately lead to a war between Octavius and Cleopatra, where Antony will ultimately side with Cleopatra against his fellow kinsman. Shakespeare’s take on these events truly is interesting, as it makes Octavius and Antony’s relationship seem all the more personal and tragic. However the depiction of Cleopatra in all of this seems a bit stereotypical and depicts her as a jealous seductive woman. She is charismatic and intimidating but at the same time seems childish and overtly manipulative. That’s not to say that Cleopatra herself was not manipulative considering her history, but Shakespeare portrayal makes her seem more like a vixen versus a cunning ruler. Nevertheless this act is foreshadowing the final conflict of this play.

Isabelle 1.5

In Shakespeare’s play, Antony and Cleopatra, in act one scene five, Cleopatra contradicts herself, more specifically about Antony. The statesman has just left her as civil war is about to break out in Rome. He has also just found out that his wife Flavia is dead. Cleopatra expresses her distress at his departure to her eunuch Mardian and Charmian. Then the messenger Alexas arrives and gives Cleopatra a pearl with a message from Antony. Cleopatra is so troubled that she has sent nearly twenty messengers herself to Antony, on a daily basis, and says she will do so even if it means she sends everyone from Egypt, leaving no population. It all seems so over the top and deep or at least desperate love.
However, from one of the quotations I chose, I believe it is more desperate than anything. Cleopatra refers to her previous affairs with Caesar and Pompey, those of similar statute to Antony. Within the same scene, she tells Alexas not to compare Antony to Caesar. This is contradictory in that Cleopatra mentioned him herself, asking if she loved Caesar like this, begging for a comparison. Cleopatra is the only one allowed to say anything about Caesar as she does not like what her attendants have to say on the matter. With or without Cleopatra trying to look at Caesar and Antony side by side, there are definite similarities. It seems as if Cleopatra may not be over Caesar.
In the first quote, “Broad-fronted Caesar, / When thou wast here above the ground, I was / A morsel for a monarch. And great Pompey / Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow. / There would he anchor his aspect, and die / With looking on his life. (1.1.31-36),” Cleopatra refers to previous affairs almost fondly. She recalls aspects of how they looked and how she was fit to be with a king. This belief is not lost in her romance with Antony, who has a lot of political stout and later becomes one of the three to rule part of the kingdom.
Though Cleopatra again names Caesar, she threatens to hurt anyone that dares compare him to Antony. “By Isis, I will give thee bloody teeth / If thou with Caesar paragon again / My man of men. (1.1.73-75).” Despite the pugnaciousness of this claim, she is greatly exaggerating and this is just a continuation of her complaints. Cleopatra mentions Caesar in comparison with Antony more than once in this scene but threatens to hurt anyone else that does so. Even though they are no longer lovers, Cleopatra is very possessive of Caesar similar to how she is reluctant to let Antony leave. Cleopatra may not be willing to let others see what Caesar and Antony have in common, but it is happening whether she likes it or not.

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