Cleopatra’s Persona

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In Shakespeare play “Antony and Cleopatra,” it was written around the historical period of the Roman Empire. In the play, the ideas battles with gender roles and power. In this essay I will introduce Janet Adelman essay titled Tradition as Source in Antony and Cleopatra, and elaborate on the leadership of cleopatra has the embodiment of Egypt. In the scene presented will argue that this duality created by Cleopatra, make the readers over look her, capability has a leader. In the Norton critical edition of the play, Janet Adelman presented that the sources uses would allowed readers to misinterpreted the text easily “ Shakespeare’s own Venus and Adonis depends on our knowledge that both Venus and Adonis were often allegorized as natural force” (192).

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Meaning “natural”, Adelman meant a things that exhibits qualities which appear to be beyond outside of human control.

In many conversations Cleopatra speeches are significant, because in a particular moment she referred to herself has ‘Egypt ‘s Queen’. For example “Call in the messengers. As I am Egypt’s Queen” (1.1.8). There are many lines that evokes a sense that Cleopatra is declaring that Egypt isn’t just only a place on the map, in a continent, it was the people. Even looking at it in another perspective Cleopatra might even portray herself as Egypt to symbolize every individual in the country. In (3.7.62) “Sink Rome, and their tongues rot that speak against us! A charge we bear i’th’ war.” This scene presents another persona of Cleopatra, this was the warrior part, this persona was created to be fearless, as a leader, this persona was prefect for her with so many battle ships and people to follow her. She cultivated this persona to rule, and to be a good leader; compassion and to be fearless is required. Shakespeare written about Cleopatra as a defender of Egypt, she was admired by others, and was a true leader. This tragicomedy play was significant through the perceptive of Cleopatra’s persona, and the historical context of Rome; meaning it was meant to be vague, because Shakespeare believe that his audience as already knew about this story, so he had added his twist, to the Roman and Egypt culture.

According to Adelman, Shakespeare intended to write play in the way he did, “But Rome is not in any sense the protagonist of Antony and Cleopatra; though its matter is historical, the total world created by the play is not. And principles tolerable in the history plays set up intolerable tensions in Antony and Cleopatra because they so frequently undercut the pretensions of the characters in whom we are most interested” (Adelman 181). I do believe that Adelman’s essay gives a great interpretation on Antony and Cleopatra play, for an individual with a dual nature, and also as a woman, Cleopatra character is interesting because she manifest the idea of Egypt. For instance, “I will be even with thee, doubt it not” (3.7.62). She was a woman incapable of yielding, her character was made to challenge stereotypes the role of women in leadership, among Antony and Caesar; her character stood out between these two patriarchal characters. As depicted on the cover of the play, Cleopatra stood in the middle of two servants, with a godly glow. This representation is significant because it produces an irony due to the fact that in Roman period; men were the ones with the frame and fortune. Indicated that Shakespeare did a power shift, and made Cleopatra the ‘natural force’; she had the power, the people, the influence, and the ships. In the battle of power, cleopatra power comes from her people.

Cleopatra is an earthy and sensual woman, she represents Egyptian culture, as Shakespeare tells the history; he had written the play abstract around the history context of the Roman empire, it was vaguely represented and the context around Cleopatra changed in the text. The god like persona, create by Cleopatra was her very first downfall, Shakespeare presented this term god like; god is a limited word suggested for people who are trying to escape. For instance Roman Imperialism. Cleopatra might have never been, this god like figure without the people around her. The major question surrounding this play; is what does Cleopatra stands for? Cleopatra is the embodiment of her people, as a woman she represents fertility and nurture. Cleopatra has a cunning personality, throughout the play, Cleopatra creates a huge impact on the Roman Empire, also became an inspiration for women in Egypt. Therefore, I believe that Cleopatra may have been the leader, the mother, she was a leader to Egypt and to say that she started at a really young age. In many perceptive she bridges the social changes in Egypt. She had made many sacrifices for Egypt.

According to the OED, the history of the word structure “Shakespeare with coining actually were in use by other people around the same time or even earlier. Shakespeare is inventive in his uses of words, but he was not the creator of a whole new vocabulary, depending on the kind and range of plays they wrote.” Knowing this it is evident that when analyzing Shakespeare, it is essential to use the OED to understand the word structure since Shakespeare wasn’t the creator of these words. The word structure and the usage of the punctuation for example, semicolon and period and comma, for any Shakespeare’s poetry the breaks in the poem, is always meaningful, they present deeper thoughts or signal an idea. Majority of these words were first use in the late 15th to mid-16th century, these time period is important because the OED wasn’t created yet, therefore Shakespeare wrote majority of his poems, with words that had, been in other writer’s journals or poems.

In conclusion, Shakespeare approach of written this play has presented the audience with a allegorical perceptive. Cleopatra character demonstrate that ideology, since her character is a woman and a leader, the personas that were cultivated, was the most significant approach since Shakespeare audience knew so little about Cleopatra. The true essences of Cleopatra comes from her people, in that scene presented, she went to war not for the intent of Antony, but for her people.

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Cleopatra's Persona. (2019, Feb 05). Retrieved from