Shakespeare's Presentation of Antony and Cleopatra in Act One
Shakespeare’s presentation of both Antony and Cleopatra in Act 1 can be analysed in many ways as they are both introduced in Act 1 with in-depth descriptions and images of both of them throughout, whether it be by eachother or opinions on them voiced by other characters.
Straight from the beginning of the play, in Act 1 scene 1, Antony and Cleopatra argue over whether their love for one another for one another can be measured:
CLEOPATRA: If it be love indeed, tell me how much. ANTONY: There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned. CLEOPATRA: I’ll set a bourn how far to be beloved. ANTONY: Then must thou needs find out new
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Throughout the play, Antony grapples with the conflict between his love for Cleopatra and his duties to the Roman Empire. In Act 1 scene 1, just after the section above, Antony uses a very destructive image to show where his priorities currently lie by dismissing the duties he has neglected, “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall”. This is one of the most powerful statements Antony makes as it shows how in love or in some ways under the influence of Cleopatra he is and shows total disrespect to his responsibility to his people when once he was a great leader. Strangely however, in the very next scene, Antony worries that he is about to “lose myself in dotage” and fears that the death of his wife is only one of the ills that his “idleness doth hatch”. This shows a strong sense of unstability in Antony and unassuredness over his duties. First he tells of how he has lost all intrest in the welfare of his people but directly after is worried about how his strong ties with Cleopatra and Egypt may overcome his ability to lead his people. Thus, Antony finds himself torn between the Rome of his duty and the Alexandria of