In this presentation, we are going to show that the love that seems to bring the two heroes together will eventually turn into a destructive passion. First, we are going to talk about Cleopatra’s power, then we are going to talk about the violence of their relationship and finally about their relationship in itself.
Line 1, the adjective “triumphant”, accentuated by the superlative “most”, shows that Cleopatra will always win, that she will always obtain what she wants, the obstacles do not matter. Cleopatra is powerful: if she and Antony were to have a conflict, she would definitely triumph. Such a powerful man as Antony will not accept it very easily, hence the destructive conflicts.
Besides, “lady” is a name for a respected woman. So, to name Cleopatra like that shows that people respect her and perhaps even fear her. Therefore, it already prepares us for the nature of their relationship.
Lines 9 -15, the lexical field of love and violence describes their relationship and the destruction it is going to create. It is an extended metaphor about them which predicts their relationship to come: it is going to be violent love. We can compare it to masochism, because they seem to be in need of this violence, or “amorous” of it. Cleopatra manipulates Antony and she can do anything with him. Again, it is foretelling for the rest of the story.
Line 9 is a metaphor about their love affair: they are like fire versus water. It is kind of like a prediction about their relationship: they cannot be together but they cannot resist each other. They feed an unnatural passion for each other, which will, as we know from the rest of the play, kill them. This proves they are bound by a destructive passion.
Line 3, the expression “she pursed up his heart” is very interesting and we think it should not be separated from line 46-47 “And for his ordinary pays his heart for what his eyes eat only”. In both passages we can find the lexical field of money, business and implicit violence. In any relation, if there is a price to “pay”, it does not sound very promising and very romantic. Moreover, if the “heart” is what you pay with, it’s even worse; it is not what we would expect. In this kind of text, we would expect the lexical field of love but it is not the case here.
“Pursed up his heart” is a metaphor to describe how carelessly and violently she will treat him. Cleopatra will destroy Antony through their love. She considers him as hers and literally puts his heart in her pocket as she would do with any object or with money. This brings us to line 46 “and for his ordinary pays his heart” in which, once again, his heart pays as if it were money. In those lines Shakespeare suggests that when Antony went to Cleopatra’s house, he suffered because all he could do was watch Cleopatra “for what his eyes eat only” and in addition to this, the meal wasn’t all that delicious either!
Lines 33-34 show us the influence of Cleopatra on others. In it, everyone in the city has left to see Cleopatra except for Antony who stays “alone” in the marketplace; as first, he wants to show his superiority by not following the others. But it just does not work, as he ends up totally isolated and away from the important action. A man like him needs public attention so he finally went to see her too, because if he didn’t go he would feel bad, useless and politically unimportant. Cleopatra’s absence causes him to feel empty, as the reference to the “gap in nature” suggests, as we said he needs her, he is submitted to her, but as we also know, desperate need and submission have never been very constructive.
It justifies line 1, as Cleopatra will certainly win, since she can do everything she wants with him.
Antony being alone also proves that it is a bit of a one sided relationship: Antony loves Cleopatra but she does not in return, at least not as much as he does.
Lines 21-23, nstead of cooling their cheeks, the fans make the boys’ cheeks blush and feel hotter. This can be a comparison to fire : when you try to cool down fire, it blows even more and increases in intensity. This is foretelling about Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship, which is a destructive passion. When they try to cool things down it will eventually lead to the exact opposite. This passage reminds us of line 9, where there is also an allusion to fire.
Then line 31the perfume is a metaphor for Cleopatra and her presence. People come to her by smelling her perfume. In this passage the word “sense” has two meanings: it designates the five senses, especially the olfactory sense in this extract (“perfume”) It also designates reason, rational thinking. By giving this word two meanings, Shakespeare emphasizes the fact Cleopatra has a great influence on people, she can manipulate their feelings, senses and emotions. This represents the lovers’ relationship: Cleopatra has got a certain influence on Antony and he won’t be able to resist her. The use of the verb “hit” , which belongs to the lexical field of violence, is also representative of their unreasonable passion, a passion that hits the sense, that disrupts their reason.
In conclusion, this passage foretells the tense relationship between the two lovers and the destruction it is going to create.
Pierre, Elisa, Céleste and Ralu.