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How The Conflict Between Roman Duty And Egyptian Sensuousness Develops The Tragedy Of Antony And Cleopatra Comments: More Focus On Final Scene Was Expected

1764 words - 8 pages

Antony epitomizes the traditional tragic hero. The elements that constitute Antony's tragic standing are centrally developed by the conflict between Roman duty and Egyptian sensuousness. The audience empathises with the nature of his demise, as it deems Antony a morally respectable person, and can understand his downfall as a result of the conflict.The conflict embodies his tragic flaw, which is his stubbornness in trying to achieve an elusive compromise between his duty to Rome and his passion for Cleopatra. Antony's priorities repeatedly sway in favour of Rome and then Cleopatra indeterminably and uncompromisingly. The audience experiences catharsis upon witnessing the protagonist's demise ...view middle of the document...

Philo's speech illustrating the Roman perception of Antony's hedonism in Egypt, whilst unjust towards Cleopatra, is much more controlled than that of Antony. He describes how Antony's greatness has deteriorated due to the 'dotage of (his) general's', which 'O'erflows the measure'. This presents a more reasoning statement, contrary to Antony's reckless and exaggerated expression of disregard to Rome. Demetrius' speech expressing his regret is similar in tone, expressing his regret 'That (Antony) approves the common liar'. This epitomizes a recurring conflict between Antony's sense of honour and his unfulfilling actions.Honesty is central to Antony's idea of honour. However, he frequently speaks upon impulse, distorting the integrity of his actions. This is exemplified by his response to the news from Messenger of war led by Labienus 'with his Parthian force'. Antony is quick in accepting blame for the outbreak of war due to his desertion from the Roman Empire, urging Messenger to speak genuinely critically of him for his actions, saying 'Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue'. He stresses his resigned desire to hear Messenger's most severe and honest thoughts concerning his reckless actions, asking him to 'taunt (his) faults/ With such full license as both truth and malice/ Have power to utter'. This outburst typifies Antony's disposition to impulsively changing his moral stance, as does his sudden marking of Cleopatra as the root of his actions, which moves him to ask her for one to 'Name Cleopatra as she is called in Rome'. He maintains this tone upon the news of Fulvia's death, further depicting Cleopatra as the cause of his problems. He suggests that the queen's seduction of him into 'idleness' had a spell- binding effect of him, exclaiming that he 'must from this enchanting queen break off'. He continues in a hyperbolic manner reminiscent of his speech in act one, scene one from line thirty- three to thirty- nine, claiming his hedonism with Cleopatra to be the cause of 'Ten thousand harms'. The typical exaggerated tone of Antony's speech is emphasised through its presentation in marked contrast to the voice of truth represented by Enobarbus. Enobarbus' lines are in prose, presenting a more convincing and contained tone to the theatrical verse of Antony. He calms Antony's discomfort concerning Cleopatra's supposedly 'cunning' seductive influence on him, assuring him 'her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love'.Antony's vacillation of moral stance is justified by the indecisiveness of the conflict between Roman duty and Egyptian sensuousness. Cleopatra and Caesar, the representatives of Egypt and Rome respectively, are each portrayed as possessing admirable and conflicting traits. Cleopatra has a strong and forthright character, which frequently acts upon impulse making her temperamental and theatrical. She expresses the Egyptian opposition to the disciplined manner of Rome through hyperbolic sarcasm when she...

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