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Character Analysis in Antony and Cleopatra

Character Analysis Examples in Antony and Cleopatra:

Act I - Act I, Scene 5

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"My salad days, When I was green in judgment:--cold in blood..."   (Act I - Act I, Scene 5)

"Salad days" has come to mean a number of different things, including one's heyday or highest point. However, in this original context, "salad days" refer to a time when one was young, "green" or inexperienced, and passionless. Cleopatra uses this metaphor to refer to her youthful affair with Julius Caesar. Her love and passion for Caesar were not real love as her love for Antony is. Rather, her lack of discretion and passion made him seem greater than he was. Cleopatra contradicts the Chairman's claim that her praises for Antony are similar to her past praise of Caesar by asserting that she has changed and matured.

"For her own person, It beggar'd all description: she did lie In her pavilion,--cloth-of-gold of tissue,-- O'er-picturing that Venus where we see The fancy out-work nature..."   (Act II - Act II, Scene 2)

Enobarbus is able to describe Cleopatra's extravagant barge, but the woman herself defies description. To "beggar" meant to exhaust or impoverish. In other words, Cleopatra's beauty "impoverishes" the English language because there are no words to describe her. The only way to describe her is to compare her to Venus, the goddess of love who is famed for her beauty. With this introduction, Cleopatra is set up to be the most objectively desirable and beautiful woman on earth.

"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety: other women cloy The appetites they feed; but she makes hungry Where most she satisfies..."   (Act II - Act II, Scene 2)

Here, Enobarbus describes the addictive quality of Cleopatra's love. He claims that while men grow tired of all other women in the world, loving Cleopatra only makes men desire her more. Notice that this description of Cleopatra's enticing nature comes from a third party rather than Antony. This suggests that Cleopatra is known far and wide for her irresistibly seductive nature. His paean not only foreshadows Antony's eventual return to his lover, but begins to create a mythic image of Cleopatra as the most sensual, and erotically powerful woman in all the world.

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