‘Antony and Cleopatra’ by William Shakespeare is a play about a Roman General Antony and an Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. In Act one Scene one it shows how Antony puts Cleopatra in front of his army but Cleopatra just manipulates him successfully. The first part of the play is set in Alexandria. Cleopatra is a powerful woman and she knows she can get everything she wants. She loves the attention being on her, as she thinks so highly of herself. Cleopatra is experienced and manipulating but she is also captivating, ‘Everything becomes her.
‘ She uses charisma and charm to persuade people so she always gets her way. Cleopatra has good looks so she can have any man she wants. She knows that Antony is madly in love with her and he will do anything she commands. She is externally fascinating and strong minded. Antony is a General, before meeting Cleopatra he was seen has a respectful and honourable man. Since meeting Cleopatra he has forgotten about how important he is to the rest of his men.
Antony has abandoned them for his true love Cleopatra and as suffered the consequences as now they no longer dote him.
He has been put under Cleopatra’s powerful spell. His heart is now set on a woman rather than war. He used to have a high reputation but now his own men have turned their backs on him. Antony and Cleopatra enter together. The audience can tell that Cleopatra is the more important one, as she has her ladies and a train behind her and with eunuchs fanning her.
Antony has nothing compared to Cleopatra. It shows Cleopatra’s high status and that her entrance is grand.
When Philo and Demetrius enter the stage direction says enter ‘Demetrius and Philo’ but when Antony and Cleopatra enter before it says ‘Flourish’. This entrance showing there important significance. When they leave the narrator has said that Antony and Cleopatra exeunt but the train is also mentioned, so we are reminded of Cleopatra’s importance. Together as a couple they appear to the audience as well-known and mighty. Through Philo we learn about Antony before he enters. Even though he is Antony’s friend he tells Demetrius how the men are no longer inspired by him.
The audience can see the ups and downs of Antony before he appears. They understand from Philo that he used to be a straight man but now he has been weakened by a woman. Philo is betraying his friend. From Philo the audience learn a lot about Antony’s past and future in a short amount of time. When Antony and Cleopatra have entered an left Demetrius and Philo continue to discuss Antony. Demetrius states how Caesar is so unimportant now to Antony, he has been blinded by love. Demetrius questions this though to Philo showing his astonishment to the way Antony behaved.
The audience can see that Antony has changed completely, for the worst. Demetrius says how even the common people speak lowly about him, this showing the audience how hated he has become. Adding to this Demetrius says how he is not performing his deeds in Rome. When the messenger tells Antony of the new news, Antony is ignorant and arrogant by saying how he annoyed it had disturbed him. He now thinks he is so important he does not need to acknowledge anything from Rome. The punctuation when Antony is talking is regular, his sentences are short and meaningful.
He is very blunt. The audience have by now a strong dislike for Antony. It is clear he speaks in a arrogant manner and gives direct insults. ‘We stand up peerless’ Antony bluntly puts across to the audience that himself and Cleopatra and the king and queen of lovers and nothing will come between them. Cleopatra is clearly shown patronising and manipulating Antony through her speech. When she first enters she says, ‘if it be love indeed show me how much,’ from this everyone can see that she likes compliments and attention.
Cleopatra emphasises how Caesar is younger that Antony to annoy her lover and possibly make him jealous. Cleopatra is shown how she uses reverse psychology and is successful with it,. For example she tells Antony to go to Rome but she knows by telling him this, he will stay. The audience can now see just how gullible and weak Antony is. Just from the first few pages of the book, the audience can see the true personalities of Antony and Cleopatra. Antony used to be an inspirational general now he is thought of as little by the poorer people.
Cleopatra is seen as an extraordinary sensuous woman to the men. I think it is a good idea for Philo to be talking about Antony first, so the audience know background about him and can begin to decide their opinions of him. The start of the play also helps to make a dramatic opening. Just from the entrance the audience can visibly see the importance and status of Cleopatra without dialogue needed. Therefore each of the main characters are introduced in a different way, making the play more appealing.