Using Act1, Scene3 As A Starting Point, Examine The Way The Relationship Between Antony And Cleopatra Is Presented In This Scene And Elsewhere, Assessing What Clues There Are About The Future. Essay, Research Paper
Act1 Scene3 is a very important part of the play ?Antony and Cleopatra.? Even though this scene is very early on in the play a lot of crucial things occur that shape the rest of the play. The main event of the scene is where Antony leaves Cleopatra; this is quite dramatic and shapes the rest of the play.
The scene opens with Cleopatra inquiring about Antony?s were-abouts. She sends Alexas (one of her servants) to find him. Cleopatra tells Alexas to say that if Antony is sad she should say that Cleopatra is ?dancing,? but if he is happy to say that she is ?sick.? Cleopatra does this in an attempt to get sympathy from Antony and also to try and keep control over him. She attempts to control his emotions; this sort of thing is common from Cleopatra throughout the play. In this case she does this so as not to loose Antony,
?Thou teachest like a fool; the way to loose him.? (Act 1 Scene 3 Line 11)
When Antony does arrive she immediately feigns illness saying,
?I am sick and sullen.? (Act 1 Scene 3 Line 14)
Cleopatra does this to arouse sympathy from Antony or to deter him from saying what she knows he will. She knows that Antony has been called back to Rome because of the wars going on and also the impending war with Pompeii. Cleopatra does not allow Antony the chance to speak she constantly cuts him off mid-sentence, she does this until he gets very angry,
?How now, lady!? (Act 1 Scene 3 Line 40)
You cannot blame Antony for his anger here as Cleopatra is making what he has to say a lot more difficult than it needs to be. Cleopatra then insults Antony,
?The greatest soldier in the world, Art turn?d the greatest liar.?
(Act 1 Scene 3 Line 38)
By this point she is getting quite desperate and she allows him to speak. What has happened in just the first half in the scene has shown the cracks in their relationship. Antony still puts Rome higher than Cleopatra; he leaving her at the end of the scene proves this. Cleopatra believes that for her to keep Antony she has to constantly trick him and be one-step ahead all the time.
When Antony does finally get to speak he says that his heart remains in Egypt with Cleopatra. This shows that Antony loves Cleopatra, but we are unsure as to whether she returns his love. Cleopatra has had affairs with Roman Generals before and Antony is fully aware of this. The scene ends with Antony leaving Cleopatra and him saying that their spirits and thoughts remain together.
What we have seen in this scene is that Antony still puts Rome before Cleopatra. Cleopatra becomes depressed when Antony leaves her,
?Give me to drink mandragora.? (Act 1 Scene 5 Line 3)
?That I may sleep out this great gap of time. My Antony is away.?
Mandragora is like a sleeping pill; Cleopatra cannot bear to be away from Antony. This shows that she may love him, or she might be lonely. Cleopatra is not a character that can easily be understood. She is very complicated and her cunning nature makes it difficult to judge her character.
Throughout the play there are echoes of word and action. In Act 1 Scene, Antony says,
?Let Rome in Tiber melt?
and in Act 2 Scene 5, Cleopatra says,
?Melt Egypt into Nile?
These two phrases are very similar, and show the sort of affect Antony and Cleopatra have on each other. When Antony says, ?Let Rome in Tiber melt? his companions are disgusted that he will rebuke Rome in such a way.
One very important echo in the play is when the protagonists kill themselves. In Act 4 Scene 14 just before Antony commits suicide he says,
?A bridegroom in my death, and run into?t, As to a lovers bed.?
Cleopatra says just before she kills herself,
?The stroke of death is as a lovers pinch.?
Both Antony and Cleopatra see death as an erotic experience. We know this because they talk in the sense of weddings and love. Their words here again show how similar they are in thought.
As an image, light is used in the play to show life. Near the protagonists deaths there are examples of echoes involving light. When Antony believes Cleopatra is dead he says,
?Since the torch is out.?
Cleopatra says when Antony dies,
?Our lamp is spent.?
This shows that Antony and Cleopatra see each other as the light of their lives. When they die, the light extinguishes. It is quite romantic that they see each other in this way.
The play can be quite predictable at times. For example when Antony marries Octavia we know that he will leave her the first chance he gets. He tells her,
?The world and my great office will sometimes divide me from your bosom.?
This shows that Antony loves Cleopatra and that no normal women can take her place. Other examples of the plays predictability and Antony?s love for Cleopatra are when Antony follows Cleopatra from the battle of Actium. Also Antony and Cleopatra’s deaths are inevitable, the whole play builds up to them.
As in most of Shakespeare?s plays a soothsayer tells the future. In Act 1
Scene 2 a soothsayer speaks to Charmiam. He tells her,
?You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.?
Which does in fact come true. Charmians response to this is quite disturbing.
?O excellent! I love long life better than figs.?
This is disturbing because when Cleopatra commits suicide the asps that kill her come hidden in a basket of figs.
In Act 2 Scene 3 the soothsayer appears again, but this time he is talking to Antony. He advises Antony not to stay with Caesar, because Caesar?s fortunes will rise higher than his. Yet again the soothsayer is right, Caesars fortunes do indeeed rise higher than Antonys. Caesar defeats Antony in battle and Antony commits suicide. Overall though Caesar gains very little from the death of Antony and Cleopatra.
Until the very end of the play we are not sure if Cleopatra loves Antony. She constantly tricks and tests Antony throughout the play. Some of these have been mentioned earlier in the essay