Antony And Cleopatra Double Standards Essay

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Antony And Cleopatra Double Standards Essay



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There was a misogynistic mentality towards women in Romeo and Juliet, evident through the way women were shown as objects, portrayed as weak, and made to seem unable to dictate their own lives. Men in Romeo and Juliet could be seen acting like owners towards women. For instance, during the first wave of feminism, women were dehumanized and degraded by men by not being given many human rights, especially women of the LGBTQ community and women of colour.

Since then, women have been fighting to gain respect and equality in the male-dominant society. Those who view erotic dance as a degrading and dehumanizing profession that only pleasures men believe that it is because society has not changed in the sense that women are still degraded and objectified by men. On the other hand, those who believe that erotic dance is empowering believe that women have finally surpassed the great inequalities in society, such as the right to vote and take part in any profession they choose. The message of this quote is that not caring about somebody causes them to break free of your neglect, which shows that not caring can be a hateful act. Throughout both plays and many others within, the general faultiness yet calculated cruelty of women are noted often by both male and female characters many times, including Phaedra and Medea.

Since women only had the ability to be respected for few things, for example, the ability to bear children and keep a husband, it follows that stepping out of line could have severe consequences for them and their status. The imbalance of power in Greek and Roman society has created an outlet of seemingly disproportionate revenge committed by women, in response to their oppression. It is not truly disproportionate if one considers that a woman who had never been able to fight back or speak up in her life will one day respond with a collective blow to the patriarchy when it is vital for. But at the root of it all is the relationship between Macbeth and his Lady, whose lack of knowledge and faith in themselves drives them toward insanity and a horrific fate.

Their relationship does not represent nature, Shakespeare grossly exaggerated his masculinity towards women. Many of Shakespeare 's characters in Macbeth are so confused that it almost makes you think that he was not certain of anything. He had troubled relationships with women, his wife, for instance, definitely had a great impact on his writing. Yet, Macbeth is a play about. Superiority regarding gender has historically produced controversy. Many critics have noted the strong influence of Virgil 's first-century Roman epic poem, the Aeneid , on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Such influence should be expected, given the prevalence of allusions to Virgil in the Renaissance culture in which Shakespeare was educated.

The historical Antony and Cleopatra were the prototypes and antitypes for Virgil's Dido and Aeneas: Dido , ruler of the north African city of Carthage , tempts Aeneas , the legendary exemplar of Roman pietas , to forego his task of founding Rome after the fall of Troy. The fictional Aeneas dutifully resists Dido's temptation and abandons her to forge on to Italy, placing political destiny before romantic love, in stark contrast to Antony, who puts passionate love of his own Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, before duty to Rome. As Janet Adelman observes, "almost all the central elements in Antony and Cleopatra are to be found in the Aeneid : the opposing values of Rome and a foreign passion; the political necessity of a passionless Roman marriage; the concept of an afterlife in which the passionate lovers meet.

James emphasizes the various ways in which Shakespeare's play subverts the ideology of the Virgilian tradition; one such instance of this subversion is Cleopatra's dream of Antony in Act 5 "I dreamt there was an Emperor Antony" [5. James argues that in her extended description of this dream, Cleopatra "reconstructs the heroic masculinity of an Antony whose identity has been fragmented and scattered by Roman opinion. Cleopatra, being the complex figure that she is, has faced a variety of interpretations of character throughout history.

Perhaps the most famous dichotomy is that of the manipulative seductress versus the skilled leader. Examining the critical history of the character of Cleopatra reveals that intellectuals of the 19th century and the early 20th century viewed her as merely an object of sexuality that could be understood and diminished rather than an imposing force with great poise and capacity for leadership. This phenomenon is illustrated by the famous poet T. Eliot 's take on Cleopatra. He saw her as "no wielder of power," but rather that her "devouring sexuality Throughout his writing on Antony and Cleopatra, Eliot refers to Cleopatra as material rather than person.

He frequently calls her "thing". Eliot conveys the view of early critical history on the character of Cleopatra. Other scholars also discuss early critics' views of Cleopatra in relation to a serpent signifying " original sin ". The postmodern view of Cleopatra is complex. Doris Adler suggests that, in a postmodern philosophical sense, we cannot begin to grasp the character of Cleopatra because, "In a sense it is a distortion to consider Cleopatra at any moment apart from the entire cultural milieu that creates and consumes Antony and Cleopatra on stage. However the isolation and microscopic examination of a single aspect apart from its host environment is an effort to improve the understanding of the broader context.

In similar fashion, the isolation and examination of the stage image of Cleopatra becomes an attempt to improve the understanding of the theatrical power of her infinite variety and the cultural treatment of that power. Author L. Fitz believes that it is not possible to derive a clear, postmodern view of Cleopatra due to the sexism that all critics bring with them when they review her intricate character. She states specifically, "Almost all critical approaches to this play have been coloured by the sexist assumptions the critics have brought with them to their reading.

Freeman's articulations of the meaning and significance of the deaths of both Antony and Cleopatra at the end of the play. Freeman states, "We understand Antony as a grand failure because the container of his Romanness "dislimns": it can no longer outline and define him even to himself. Conversely, we understand Cleopatra at her death as the transcendent queen of "immortal longings" because the container of her mortality can no longer restrain her: unlike Antony, she never melts, but sublimates from her very earthly flesh to ethereal fire and air. Arthur Holmberg surmises, "What had at first seemed like a desperate attempt to be chic in a trendy New York manner was, in fact, an ingenious way to characterise the differences between Antony's Rome and Cleopatra's Egypt.

Most productions rely on rather predictable contrasts in costuming to imply the rigid discipline of the former and the languid self-indulgence of the latter. By exploiting ethnic differences in speech, gesture, and movement, Parsons rendered the clash between two opposing cultures not only contemporary but also poignant. In this setting, the white Egyptians represented a graceful and ancient aristocracy—well groomed, elegantly poised, and doomed. The Romans, upstarts from the West, lacked finesse and polish. But by sheer brute strength they would hold dominion over principalities and kingdoms.

Cleopatra is a difficult character to pin down because there are multiple aspects of her personality that we occasionally get a glimpse of. However, the most dominant parts of her character seem to oscillate between a powerful ruler, a seductress, and a heroine of sorts. Power is one of Cleopatra's most dominant character traits and she uses it as a means of control. This thirst for control manifested itself through Cleopatra's initial seduction of Antony in which she was dressed as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and made quite a calculated entrance in order to capture his attention. Cleopatra had quite a wide influence, and still continues to inspire, making her a heroine to many.

The relationship between Egypt and Rome in Antony and Cleopatra is central to understanding the plot, as the dichotomy allows the reader to gain more insight into the characters, their relationships, and the ongoing events that occur throughout the play. Shakespeare emphasises the differences between the two nations with his use of language and literary devices, which also highlight the different characterizations of the two countries by their own inhabitants and visitors. Literary critics have also spent many years developing arguments concerning the "masculinity" of Rome and the Romans and the "femininity" of Egypt and the Egyptians. In traditional criticism of Antony and Cleopatra , "Rome has been characterised as a male world, presided over by the austere Caesar, and Egypt as a female domain, embodied by a Cleopatra who is seen to be as abundant, leaky, and changeable as the Nile".

The straightforwardness of the binary between male Rome and female Egypt has been challenged in later 20th-century criticism of the play: "In the wake of feminist, poststructuralist, and cultural-materialist critiques of gender essentialism, most modern Shakespeare scholars are inclined to be far more skeptical about claims that Shakespeare possessed a unique insight into a timeless 'femininity'. In Antony and Cleopatra , Shakespeare uses several literary techniques to convey a deeper meaning about the differences between Rome and Egypt. One example of this is his schema of the container as suggested by critic Donald Freeman in his article, "The rack dislimns.

An example of the body in reference to the container can be seen in the following passage:. Nay, but this dotage of our general's O'erflows the measure His captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper And is become the bellows and the fan To cool a gypsy's lust. The lack of tolerance exerted by the hard-edged Roman military code allots to a general's dalliance is metaphorised as a container, a measuring cup that cannot hold the liquid of Antony's grand passion. Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space! Kingdoms are clay! For Rome to "melt is for it to lose its defining shape, the boundary that contains its civic and military codes. Conversely we come to understand Cleopatra in that the container of her mortality can no longer restrain her.

Unlike Antony whose container melts, she gains a sublimity being released into the air. In general, characters associated with Egypt perceive their world composed of the Aristotelian elements, which are earth, wind, fire and water. These differing systems of thought and perception result in very different versions of nation and empire. Shakespeare's relatively positive representation of Egypt has sometimes been read as nostalgia for an heroic past. Because the Aristotelian elements were a declining theory in Shakespeare's time, it can also be read as nostalgia for a waning theory of the material world, the pre-seventeenth-century cosmos of elements and humours that rendered subject and world deeply interconnected and saturated with meaning.

Critics also suggest that the political attitudes of the main characters are an allegory for the political atmosphere of Shakespeare's time. Essentially the political themes throughout the play are reflective of the different models of rule during Shakespeare's time. The political attitudes of Antony, Caesar, and Cleopatra are all basic archetypes for the conflicting sixteenth-century views of kingship. His cold demeanour is representative of what the sixteenth century thought to be a side-effect of political genius [36] Conversely, Antony's focus is on valour and chivalry , and Antony views the political power of victory as a by-product of both.

Cleopatra's power has been described as "naked, hereditary, and despotic," [36] and it is argued that she is reminiscent of Mary Tudor's reign—implying it is not coincidence that she brings about the "doom of Egypt. Cleopatra, who was emotionally invested in Antony, brought about the downfall of Egypt in her commitment to love, whereas Mary Tudor's emotional attachment to Catholicism fates her rule. The political implications within the play reflect on Shakespeare's England in its message that Impact is not a match for Reason.

Critics have often used the opposition between Rome and Egypt in Antony and Cleopatra to set forth defining characteristics of the various characters. While some characters are distinctly Egyptian, others are distinctly Roman, some are torn between the two, and still others attempt to remain neutral. According to Hirsh, Rome largely defines itself by its opposition to Egypt. In fact, even the distinction between masculine and feminine is a purely Roman idea which the Egyptians largely ignore.

The Romans view the "world" as nothing more than something for them to conquer and control. They believe they are "impervious to environmental influence" [35] and that they are not to be influenced and controlled by the world but vice versa. The Egyptians view the Romans as boring, oppressive, strict and lacking in passion and creativity, preferring strict rules and regulations. The Egyptian World view reflects what Mary Floyd-Wilson has called geo-humoralism, or the belief that climate and other environmental factors shapes racial character. Egypt is not a location for them to rule over, but an inextricable part of them. They view life as more fluid and less structured allowing for creativity and passionate pursuits.

The Romans view the Egyptians essentially as improper. Their passion for life is continuously viewed as irresponsible, indulgent, over-sexualised and disorderly. This is demonstrated in the following passage describing Antony. Boys who, being mature in knowledge, Pawn their experience to their present pleasure, And so rebel judgment. Ultimately the dichotomy between Rome and Egypt is used to distinguish two sets of conflicting values between two different locales. Yet, it goes beyond this division to show the conflicting sets of values not only between two cultures but within cultures, even within individuals.

Instead he oscillates between the two. In the beginning of the play Cleopatra calls attention to this saying. He was dispos'd to mirth, but on the sudden A Roman thought hath strook him. This shows Antony's willingness to embrace the pleasures of Egyptian life, yet his tendency to still be drawn back into Roman thoughts and ideas. Orientalism plays a very specific, and yet, nuanced role in the story of Antony and Cleopatra. A more specific term comes to mind, from Richmond Barbour, that of proto-orientalism, that is orientalism before the age of imperialism.

This allowed Shakespeare to use widespread assumptions about the "exotic" east with little academic recourse. It could be said that Antony and Cleopatra and their relationship represent the first meeting of the two cultures in a literary sense, and that this relationship would lay the foundation for the idea of Western superiority vs. Eastern inferiority. This plays into the idea that Cleopatra has been made out to be an "other", with terms used to describe her like "gypsy". Feminist criticism of Antony and Cleopatra has provided a more in-depth reading of the play, has challenged previous norms for criticism, and has opened a larger discussion of the characterization of Egypt and Rome.

However, as Gayle Greene so aptly recognises, it must be addressed that "feminist criticism [of Shakespeare] is nearly as concerned with the biases of Shakespeare's interpretors [ sic ]—critics, directors, editors—as with Shakespeare himself. Feminist scholars, in respect to Antony and Cleopatra , often examine Shakespeare's use of language when describing Rome and Egypt. Through his language, such scholars argue, he tends to characterise Rome as "masculine" and Egypt as "feminine. The feminine categorization of Egypt, and subsequently Cleopatra, was negatively portrayed throughout early criticism. The story of Antony and Cleopatra was often summarised as either "the fall of a great general, betrayed in his dotage by a treacherous strumpet, or else it can be viewed as a celebration of transcendental love.

Once the Women's Liberation Movement grew between the s and s, however, critics began to take a closer look at both Shakespeare's characterization of Egypt and Cleopatra and the work and opinions of other critics on the same matter. Jonathan Gil Harris claims that the Egypt vs. Rome dichotomy many critics often adopt does not only represent a "gender polarity" but also a "gender hierarchy". Early critics like Georg Brandes presented Egypt as a lesser nation because of its lack of rigidity and structure and presented Cleopatra, negatively, as "the woman of women, quintessentiated Eve.

In more recent years, critics have taken a closer look at previous readings of Antony and Cleopatra and have found several aspects overlooked. Egypt was previously characterised as the nation of the feminine attributes of lust and desire while Rome was more controlled. However, Harris points out that Caesar and Antony both possess an uncontrollable desire for Egypt and Cleopatra: Caesar's is political while Antony's is personal. Harris further implies that Romans have an uncontrollable lust and desire for "what they do not or cannot have.

There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it: What our contempt doth often hurl from us, We wish it ours again; the present pleasure, By revolution lowering, does become The opposite of itself: she's good, being gone: The hand could pluck her back that shov'd her on. Fitz outwardly claims that early criticism of Antony and Cleopatra is "colored by the sexist assumptions the critics have brought with them to their reading. These criticisms are only a few examples of how the critical views of Egypt's "femininity" and Rome's "masculinity" have changed over time and how the development of feminist theory has helped in widening the discussion. Relativity and ambiguity are prominent ideas in the play, and the audience is challenged to come to conclusions about the ambivalent nature of many of the characters.

The relationship between Antony and Cleopatra can easily be read as one of love or lust; their passion can be construed as being wholly destructive but also showing elements of transcendence. Cleopatra might be said to kill herself out of love for Antony, or because she has lost political power. A major theme running through the play is opposition. Throughout the play, oppositions between Rome and Egypt, love and lust, and masculinity and femininity are emphasised, subverted, and commented on. One of Shakespeare's most famous speeches, drawn almost verbatim from North 's translation of Plutarch's Lives , Enobarbus' description of Cleopatra on her barge, is full of opposites resolved into a single meaning, corresponding with these wider oppositions that characterise the rest of the play:.

The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne, Burn'd on the water Act 2, Scene 2. The play is accurately structured with paradox and ambivalence in order to convey the antitheses that make Shakespeare's work remarkable. It may be perceived as opposition between word and deed but not to be confused with "duality. All is lost; This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me: My fleet hath yielded to the foe; and yonder They cast their caps up and carouse together Like friends long lost. Triple-turn'd whore! Bid them all fly; For when I am revenged upon my charm, I have done all. Bid them all fly; begone. All come to this? The hearts That spaniel'd me at heels, to whom I gave Their wishes, do discandy, melt their sweets On blossoming Caesar; and this pine is bark'd, That overtopp'd them all.

Betray'd I am: O this false soul of Egypt! What, Eros, Eros! However, he then strangely says to Cleopatra: "All that is won and lost. Give me a kiss. Even this repays me" [48] 3. Antony's speech conveys pain and anger, but he acts in opposition to his emotions and words, all for the love of Cleopatra. Literary critic Joyce Carol Oates explains: "Antony's agony is curiously muted for someone who has achieved and lost so much. Moreover, due to the flow of constant changing emotions throughout the play: "the characters do not know each other, nor can we know them, any more clearly than we know ourselves".

Another example of ambivalence in Antony and Cleopatra is in the opening act of the play when Cleopatra asks Anthony: "Tell me how much you love. Betrayal is a recurring theme throughout the play. At one time or another, almost every character betrays their country, ethics, or a companion. However, certain characters waver between betrayal and loyalty. This struggle is most apparent among the actions of Cleopatra, Enobarbus, and most importantly Antony. Antony mends ties with his Roman roots and alliance with Caesar by entering into a marriage with Octavia, however he returns to Cleopatra.

Diana Kleiner points out "Anthony's perceived betrayal of Rome was greeted with public calls for war with Egypt". It is twice Cleopatra abandons Antony during battle and whether out of fear or political motives, she deceived Antony. When Thidias, Caesar's messenger, tells Cleopatra Caesar will show her mercy if she will relinquish Antony, she is quick to respond:. Tell him I am prompt To lay my crown at 's feet, and there to kneel. Shakespeare critic Sara Deats says Cleopatra's betrayal fell "on the successful fencing with Octavius that leaves her to be "noble to [herself]". For example, when Macbeth changes his mind about killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth scolds him, and insults his masculinity and persuades him by saying that he owes it to her to kill Duncan.

With this in mind, usually relationships. It values sexual attractiveness opposed to the importance of being a movement about the social, political and economic equality of the sexes Goldman et al. Contemporary advertisements bombard our televisions and billboards still with half-naked women, but half naked women who promote magical lipsticks and high-heels promising to decrease your student loan, equal pay between you and your male colleagues and world peace. They construct a woman who symbolizes independence, ambition and individual freedom by attaching these ideals to the product their selling.

There are many initiates the dilemma that causes the struggle he has with love and lust that influenced in his character plays. As the writer. His appeal towards the artificiality in technology in sexuality is, among other things, depicted in his comparison of the human body of a woman to a. Second, he is the subject, but she is the object. Women are using their sex appeal by luring young and older men seizing their fortunes and inheritance TM The public does not approve this type of behavior and will be judged. However, her family will support her. Last, a woman who is mysteries has numerous advantages. In this essay I will be discussing how Lurhmann has evolved these cinematic techniques beginning in Strictly Ballroom, continuing in Romeo and Juliet and finally in The Great Gatsby.

Strictly Ballroom was made on a very limited budget but this did not stop Lurhmann using very audacious costumes. However, as the authors discuss, a man in a similar role would be characterized as strong and an effective leader. Both of these roles portrayed powerful women, but one was evil whose power needed to be controlled and the other was a protector of her her family. Also, Sutherland provides the views of prominent feminists A.

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