A Blogger’s Note: Many apologies, fair reader, for the recent gap in posting after promising to be all caught up. Epic fail on my part. But having returned from vacation and seeing my brother off into the land of wedded bliss, I am back and ready to tackle all things Bard. However, because these posts are increasingly taking longer to write, I’m now shortening my summaries of play contents. One sentence per act. Not so great as serving as a cheat sheet anymore but it means I can get through a post in significantly less time.
The Play’s the Thing: Antony and Cleopatra are madly in love (even though she’s a crazy cow) but there’s issues brewing in Rome that will pull Antony away. Antony makes up with Caesar and even marries Octavia, Caesar’s sister, to make things better between them as they head off to battle Pompey but then end up signing a treaty. Antony ditches Octavia and goes back to Cleopatra to fight in a battle which he loses because Cleopatra’s an idiot and sails away. Antony and Caesar go to battle which ultimately ends up going in Caesar’s favour and which makes Antony pissed at Cleopatra, so she fakes her death to make him like her again and then he stabs himself. Antony lives long enough to kiss Cleopatra goodbye and then she kills herself by letting asps bite her.
Heroes and Villains: Ugh, a lot of really annoying characters floating around in this play but I suppose if I must choose, I like Enobarbus who manages to maintain his sanity for most of the play.
Speech to Know: Antony gives the best speech when he decides to really leave Cleopatra in act IV for her perceived disloyalty.
“O sun, thy uprise shall I see no more:
Fortune and Antony part here; even here
Do we shake hands. – All come to this! – The hearts
That spaniel’d me at heels, to whom I gave
Their wishes, do discandy, melt their sweets
On blossoming Caesar; and this pine is bark’d
That overtopp’d them all. Betray’d I am:
O this false soul of Egypt! this grave charm,
Whose eye beck’d forth my wars and call’d them home;
Whose bosom was my corwnet, my chief end, –
Like a right gipsy, hath, at fast and loose,
Beguil’d me to the very heart of loss.” (IV.xii)
View from the Pit: Antony and Cleopatra is not going down as one of my favourite plays. I studied it in high school and didn’t dislike it, but this time around I found many of the characters highly irritating and a great number of them suffer from Too Stupid to Live syndrome. Cleopatra is characterized as a manipulative, ditzy, and emotionally isolated cow and Antony is the guy who’s terrified of losing his power but can’t leave the woman who is forever causing him to do just that. I just can’t weep for two characters who end up killing themselves because they’re idiots. Also, the political element is underdeveloped and unless you’re pretty familiar with the various alliances and shifts in power that is happening in the background, it can be a bit difficult to follow.