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Free Study Guide-Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare-Book Notes
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THEMES

Main Themes

The main theme of the play is that passion often clouds a person's judgement. The tragedy chronicles the degeneration of Antony as a result of his passion for Cleopatra. As Philo aptly states in Act I, SCENE I, Antony has turned "into a strumpet's fool." Obsessed by Cleopatra and her arts of seduction, he ignores the threat she offers to his military operations and his public duties.


Minor Theme

A pervasive underlying theme is the necessity of choosing between two opposing philosophies. Rome is the representative of values like prudence, discipline and conquest. These attitudes are expressed through the characterization of Caesar. Diametrically opposed to these are the Egyptian principles of pleasure and love symbolized in the figure of Cleopatra. Antony has to choose between these forces which pull him in opposing directions and ultimately lead to his destruction when he devotes himself wholly to the Egyptian.

MOOD

Although Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy, its mood is not always somber and sad. In fact, the first half of the play is filled with romance, beauty, and images of excess. The initial scenes, especially those depicting Cleopatra in the first three acts, are delightfully exquisite. Humorous scenes also occur in the play. A notable example is the scene when Antony and Caesar are being entertained on board Pompeius' ship. The second half of the play, however, is somber and tragic. Antony is defeated at Actium and looses his pride and self-confidence. He is so depressed over the state of affairs that he kills himself when he hears that Cleopatra is dead. His death leads Cleopatra to take her own life, intensifying the tragic mood.

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Free Study Guide-Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare-Study Guide
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