Betrayal And Deceit In Antony And Cleopatra

1278 Words 6 Pages
With Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare engages in a story centered on power—the control and authority to command nations. In the story, many of the main characters, such as Octavius Caesar and Mark Anthony, struggle to gain and maintain their grasp of authority. Yet, unlike in past texts we have read where control and influence are gained through acts of honor and ethical means, these characters attempt to gain their power by any way possible. These “Triple-turn’d whore[s]” (Shakespeare 2008: 280) spout promises only to break them at the nearest convenience. This paper will analyze the acts of betrayal and deceit used by the characters to gain their control and what it reveals about the author’s personal beliefs on rulers. Shakespeare argues that the only way to gain and maintain power is through betrayal and deception. In this essay, I will first argue that Shakespeare shows that there is little value in …show more content…
Using Pompey and Caesar, he taught that the road to power is not paved by honorable actions. He used Caesar’s betrayal of Lepidus and Anthony’s arranged marriage to prove that the rulers with the most power will do anything to gain/maintain it. And finally, he used Cleopatra to show that the quest for power in some people goes even deeper than love. Perhaps with this story, Shakespeare is arguing that those that want power are those who are most unfit for it. Maybe he is within the same school of thought as Plato, and he believes the ruling class must go through extensive training and teaching before they are ready to handle any power. Or maybe he is like Dasaratha of the Ramayana and believes that the greatest rulers are those that have no desire to rule in the first place. Whatever the case, one thing is certain: when power is pursued in the way that it is in Anthony and Cleopatra, it will end in

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