Analysis of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra Essay

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Analysis of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra

The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further. In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Around 1590 he left his family behind and traveled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical acclaim quickly followed, and Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part-owner of the Globe Theater. His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558–1603) and James I (ruled 1603–1625), and he was a
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Shakespeare’s primary source for Antony and Cleopatra was the Life of Marcus Antonius contained in Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, which was translated into English by Sir Thomas North in 1579. North’s language was so rich that Shakespeare incorporated large, relatively unchanged excerpts of it into his text. The plot of the play also remains close to North’s history, although characters like Enobarbus and Cleopatra’s attendants are largely Shakespearean creations.
The action of the story takes place roughly two years after the events of Shakespeare’s earlier play about the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar. At the beginning of that tragedy, Caesar has triumphed over his rival Pompey the Great, the father of young Pompey in Antony and Cleopatra, and aspires to kingship. Caesar is then assassinated by Cassius and Brutus, who hope to preserve the Roman Republic. Instead, Cassius and Brutus are defeated by Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar, Julius’s nephew, who then join Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to create a three-man government, or triumvirate, over the empire.
Historically, the action of Antony and Cleopatra takes place over a ten-year span, whereas in the play the story is compressed to fit the needs of the stage. Antony is clearly much older than he was in Julius Caesar, and his political instincts
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