Essay on Betrayal in Antony and Cleopatra

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Betrayal in the play ultimately leads to the downfall of many main characters; weather it be betrayal of companions or of their original ideals and morals. If we take the example of Enobarbus’ case, his decline from the strict Roman ethics into the looser morals that symbolise more Egyptian ideals, leads him to betray his general and friend, Antony. Enobarbus then goes onto to die of the guilt and broken heartedness he experiences as a result of his treachery towards Antony and his own moral compass. It is however arguable that Enobarbus traitorous nature is only an outcome and reflection of Antony’s own crumbling roman beliefs. If we take the exchange between Cleopatra and Enobarbus in Act 3, scene 12 lines 2- 12 we can see that…show more content…
This fight was a touchstone of legend; one obviously still remembered in Shakespeare’s time, and still in ours; a war between two of the greatest empires the world has seen to date, the stakes of which were incredible amounts of power, influence, land, and money – more than enough motive to kill for. And yet the ‘…mered question…’ the person who this whole war was based on; who these men were fighting this battle for – men without experience or training, against the greatest militant empire of the ancient world – this man they were fighting for ran away. Enobarbus’ dialogue describes how utterly base and treacherous Antony’s actions have been in terms of the values of the Roman Empire. This supports the argument that Antony’s betrayal of his Roman ideals lead to Enobarbus also betraying his Roman nature by defecting to Caesar. These betrayals lead to both their deaths, though if they had stuck to the Roman tenets of societal structure they would not have gone against their own nature; actions such as retreating from the sea battle (Antony) or defecting (Enobarbus), and the play could have had a very different ending. It is these faults of betrayal that set the characters up for their downfalls, echoing Antony’s belief in the doctrine of Ate, which he expresses by saying, ‘when we in our viciousness grow hard… the wise gods seel our eyes’ (Act 3, Scene 13,
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