A Study Of Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper
We can explore the nature of power and authority through many characters in
Shakespeare?s , Antony and Cleopatra . First we look to the Triumvirate as a whole .
Although they do not appear as a whole many times in the play, they create a feeling of
authority and power just by the speech used to describe them . The three bear the world
on their shoulders and seem to hold all of the power and prestige of kings and emperors .
The concept of power becomes alittle less defined when Pompey enters the picture . The
Triumvirate is threatened by Pompey?s power on the sea . He has more power than they
do as one man . This is because he has more ships and a stronger fleet . Time collapses
this truth when the three men go to visit Pompey, in all of their glorious authority, and
form a truce . Pompey relents easily because he knows he cannot beat this union of three
men, the superpowers of the world . (Act III.)
The most important example of power and authority comes when the Triumvirate
is broken up into three individuals working independently . Mark Antony and Octavious
Caesar are the two strong legs of the Triumvirate, while Lepidus is the weak man who
follows the lead of the most powerful and authoritative of the two . Ocatvius Caesar is
the most authoritative man in this play . I believe this to be because he is the most
intelligent of the three, thinking of conquest rather than love . Caesar is never likened to a
God, but rather, is a master of speech and marks his words and actions carefully so as to
conquer the world, alone . Mark Antony, on the other side, shows us love and physical
power . He is likened to a God by everyone who crosses his path . By Cleopatra
especially , ?demi-Atlas? (I.v.23.); ?Mars? (I.v.18.) . Antony is revered in this grace,
physical presence and deft ability on the battle field . As a whole, the two form a terrific
alliance, but separate one has to rise .
Antony has huge authority struggles . He wants to be part of the Triumvirate, but
his love is so strong it pulls him to Egypt . The union with Cleopatra does not give him
enough power, he loses to Caesar, and also lessens his authority because of her . He is so
guided by his infatuation with this woman that his men begin to defect to Caesar?s side.
This is also because Caesar is more competent and knows how to rule the world, he does
not let his love for any woman come between him and his quest for power . The power
and authority struggle is one-to-one between Caesar and Antony through most of the
book . We always see Caesar on top, because he has the conniving mind to rule . He has
Antony marry his sister, so then he has complete control over him . By making him part
of his family, Caesar can take personal action against Antony if he does anything to harm
his sister . Caesar also does not make the mistake of lowering himself to the ranks of his
servants . Antony is constantly drinking with his as equals, or thanking them for their help
. It is a very noble position, but one forgets who is in charge half of the time . Caesar
never makes that mistake, we always know who is in power when Caesar speaks . I think
the best example of this is while the Triumvirate is on Pompey?s ship, Lepidus has passed
out and Antony and Caesar have a few words,
?Pompey: This is not an Alexandrian feast.
Antony : It ripens toward it. Strike the vessels,ho!
Here?s to Caesar!
Caesar : I could well forbear?t
It is monstrous labor when I was my brain
And it grows fowler.
Antony : Be a child o? th? time .
Caesar : Posess it, I?ll make answer;
But I had rather fast from all, four days,
Than drink so much in one .?
This shows how differently Antony and Caesar think . Caesar always needs control of his
brain and does not like to forget time . He always likes to be in control, one step above
everyone else . He demands this respect, and everyone knows it, including Antony .
Antony enjoys the playing more than the serious nature of business . His union with
Cleopatra is more for love than for power .
The end clinches the whole play . Antony and Cleopatra are both dead and Caesar
pays them respect by burying them together and making everyone attend their funeral . In
the end , the authority and power did not matter . Although the two are dead, all that
really mattered was their love, and Caesar respected this very much . This is another
reason why Caesar is so powerful and authoritative . He does nothing wrong . He is not
slimy in his pursuit of power . He rules very openly and everyone knew what his wishes
were . It is apparent in the last passage that having this power and authority commands
him to have respect as well . Antony and Cleopatra die powerless, by suicide, but live
forever infamously, Caesar immortalizes them by paying his respect, as only a true ruler
could do .
?Take up her bed,
And bear her woman from the monument.
She shall be buried by her Antony.
No grave upon the earth shall dip in it
A pair so famous. High events as these
Strike those that make them; and their story is
No less in pity, than his glory which
Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall
In solemn show attend this funeral,
And then to Rome . ?
This speech in King Lear (II.iv.263-282). King Lear presents this to his two evil
daughters, Regan and Goneril . This appears when Lear comes to confront his daughters
as to why they are taking his attendants away, along with his power . This is Lear?s last
cry to his daughters who seek to undermine his kingship . He has given them the
kingdom, but cannot let go . They are showing him little respect, pushing him off the
throne, rather than being respectful and fair to their father . The real problem is that they
are taking away his power, but the focus is why they are taking away his attendants and
refusing to let him stay with either of them . Thud, Lear begins his speech with no home,
and two daughter that are being very evil to him .
From lines(263-269) , Lear tries to get his daughters to understand that its is not
that he needs his men, the whole lot of them, just as they do not need the clothes they
wear, but it makes them feel whole . He is appalled that he must explain this to the two
girls, and he cannot believe they are being so evil . This language, in the beginning, Lear
uses a comparison that he thinks the two will understand . They do not need their clothes,
but their clothes are there for beauty . They do not sustain life, they help to better it, just
as his men do for him . It is a very plain, easy thing for them to understand, the point is
that they don?t really care .
From lines (270-282) , the point of the speech changes* Lear tries to liken to his
daughters in a kind way, but he can hold his tongue no longer . He believes his daughters
are trying to humiliate him in his old age and grief . He knows that they are evil at this
point and that he has made a grave error in giving them the kingdom . He will not cry at
this realization , but denounces his daughters instead, and proclaims revenge worse than
all of the earth . He also calls them ?unnatural hags!? (277). This is a large theme in the
book . When he calls them unnatural it likens them to bastard children . This is easier for
him to believe that they are of another father, other than him, because they are being so
cruel to him when all they have is from him . This is a large theme in the play because
there is a power struggle between Edmund , Glouscester?s unnatural child, and Edgar , his
natural child . In this play both Lear and Gloucesters? unnatural children hold all of the
power , while they denounce the natural children , being Cordelia and Edgar . This speech
illuminates everything in the play . The fathers weep because their children deceive them .
Lear swears to revenge, but he is not the one who is able to get his revenge . In the end
he dies as does his natural daughter, Cordelia; Regan and Goneril kill each other . No
good comes out of this play . A depressed as Lear is in this speech is how tragic the play
ends up . The women reduce Lear to a beast and form this point on, he continues to go
crazy . This also indicates the role reversal that the girls had been waiting for . They
reduce him to a woman, crying , and he is reduced in power as well . He becomes the
child to his children . This flip in the play begins here . Lear now knows his place as he is
cast out into the storm to cry while his daughters and their husbands take over his