Betrayal and Loyalty in Shakespeare's plays

3231 Words Nov 16th, 2013 13 Pages
AP English Literature & Composition
March 14, 2012
Betrayal and Loyalty in William Shakespeare's Plays
William Shakespeare is one of the most recognized playwrights in the history of man. People have analyzed every sentence of his works and have taken note of the various styles used in his writing. Ironically enough, little is known about Shakespeare's personal life. It is assumed, however, that like other literary writers, Shakespeare relates occurrences in his life into his writing. The average person experiences varied and numerous events that affect them personally, and shape them into who they are. Whether one expresses loyalty or betrayal to another can impact one's life greatly and can cause numerous outcomes in a person's life. In
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(IV.VI.31-40)

Enobarbus realizes his betrayal through witnessing the loyalty and humility of Marc Antony. Despite his betrayal, Enobarbus is still Marc Antony's most loyal subject. Enobarbus stays by Marc Antony's side for the majority of the play, even when Marc Antony makes decisions Enobarbus himself did not agree with. Through these characters acts, Shakespeare expresses the direct relationship between self-interest and loyalty. As said by Paul Yachnin in his article "Shakespeare's Politics of Loyalty: Sovereignty and Subjectivity on Antony and Cleopatra," "under the pressure of misfortune, many followers fall away, revealing by their betrayals of their masters the fact that men often only pretend to be loyal." (5). Cleopatra and Enobarbus are only two of the characters who betray Marc Antony, however, they are the two character's whose betrayal Marc Antony is effected by most and cause some of the shifts in plot within the play. Though Cleopatra is guilty of being disloyal, she also falls victim to some acts of betrayal and loyalty throughout the play. Cleopatra in fact, feels as though Marc Antony in the beginning of the play- or at least feels has betrayed her as though Marc Antony will show minimal loyalty to her. Cleopatra expresses these feelings in a conversation with Marc Antony:
So Fulvia told me.
I prithee, turn aside and weep for her.
Then bid adieu to me, and say the tears
Belong to Egypt. Good now, play one scene
Of excellent
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