Shakespeare's Use of Language in Antony and Cleopatra Essay

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Shakespeare's Use of Language in Antony and Cleopatra

Enobarbus uses the phrase "infinite variety" to describe the beauty and wonder of Cleopatra to Agrippa and Maecenas in Act 2 Scene 2. In the context of the whole play I believe it is a perfect description of how Cleopatra uses the different aspects of her character. Shakespeare uses language, imagery and structure to show the different sides of her personality. This allows Cleopatra to be interpreted in many ways by the actress and the audience.

One of the ways Shakespeare presents Cleopatra throughout the play is as a queen. Cleopatra's language emphasises her royal status in Act 3 Scene 7 when she says "as the president of my kingdom" to
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The structure of the play encourages the audience to compare the two death scenes. This emphasises Cleopatra's royalty as the royal aspects of her death are accentuated in contrast with Antony's farcical death scene. However Cleopatra is not always content to fill her role as queen and this continues the theme of identity that runs throughout the play.

In contrast to her death scene there are times in the play where Shakespeare presents Cleopatra as being no different to any other woman. As Antony prepares for his second battle with Caesar in Act 4 Scene 4 he refers to Cleopatra as "my chuck" and "Dame" which are colloquial terms of address. This makes Cleopatra and her relationship with Antony seem very typical as he is using the same everyday language as normal people. The way Antony leaves her with a "soldier's kiss" increases the sense of normality in the scene. This is because the language suggests he is leaving her as a simple soldier would leave his wife or lover. Shakespeare does not give Cleopatra a special farewell from Antony and as I read the scene I could imagine a similar goodbye happening across Egypt from Antony and Caesar's men. Cleopatra's persona is hard to define as Shakespeare changes the audience's perception of her as the play develops. In Act 4 Scene 15, after Antony's death,
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