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Character Analysis of Antony
Mark Antony—Middle-aged protagonist of the play and One third of the triumvirate, the alliance between Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus that rules the Roman Empire. Antony is a great general, beloved by his men. He is also a lover of pleasure, far less single-minded than Octavius. He is a complicated and fatally divided man, failing to rise to the task of generalship at key points. Plutarch represents his love for Cleopatra as the cause of his doom, and Shakespeare shares this view, but the play also shows their love as a kind of triumph, beautiful and wonderful on its own terms.Throughout the play, Antony grapples with the conflict between his love for Cleopatra and his duties to the Roman Empire.The geographical poles that draw him in opposite directions represent deep-seated conflicts between his reason and emotion, his sense of duty and his desire, his obligations to the state and his private needs.
Antony, like Julius Caesar, is descended from an ancient Roman family, though lately the family has fallen into disfavor. Antony seems to have been a rather worthless person in his youth; he liked to drink too much, and he tended to be a spendthrift. He continued to exhibit these qualities for the rest of his life. But he also has a generous nature and a good-humored personality, and eventually he becomes a lieutenant to Julius Caesar in Gaul. His troops like him, and he is courageous on the battlefield. He becomes a chief deputy to Caesar, and eventually he is a partner with him as consul in Rome.
Antony makes his "second home" in the mysterious East, in Egypt, the civilization of the Ptolemies, in the play. Rome seems cold and grey, whereas Alexandria shimmers with heat and sparkles with color and sensuality. Antony's personality is much like the land where he makes his home in his middle years.Antony seems to have acquired a new interest in the pleasures of living because of his residing in Egypt and because of his love for Cleopatra. Finally, however, he becomes a very troubled man because he found himself torn between a desire to be with Cleopatra and an equally strong desire to seek and maintain power in Rome.
He is, however, almost completely under Cleopatra’s spell. Preferring to spend time with her than on official business, he refuses to hear a messenger from Rome. Discovering that his wife Fulvia has made civil war on his brother, before dying, he realizes that he can no longer stay in Egypt, and that his devotion to Cleopatra is making him risk everything, especially given Pompey’s revolt and the need the triumvirate has of him to put it down. Leaving Cleopatra, he tells her that Fulvia’s death should reassure her that he is not deserting her, but he then accepts Caesar’s offer of his sister Octavia in marriage.
His impulsiveness and his inability to make decisions make him appear weak, but he is not as weak as he appears, as the play illustrates. He is sensual, but he is also brave, and he withstands adversity well. He is insecure about his age, to some extent, for he worries about Cleopatra's fidelity, since he is older than she is. But in spite of his insecurities, Antony more often than not is overconfident.
He seriously underestimates his youthful opponent, Octavius Caesar; he believes that his own vast experience and courage on the field can make up for Octavius's inexperienced determination. He finds ultimately that they do not. Antony is finally driven to make a choice between his allegiance to Egypt and Cleopatra — or to Rome; he must declare his allegiance to one world or the other. He cannot have both, and it becomes clear early in the play that Rome's problems demand his full loyalty, rather than half. Antony's failure to see the nature of his problem causes him to endlessly vacillate, avoiding mailing a final decision until it is too late. Much of Antony's apparent impulsiveness, first deciding to give up all for Cleopatra, then deciding to return to Rome, etc., is a direct result of his basic underlying indecision. Because he cannot come to a conclusion about what values take precedence in his life, he loses everything.
He asks the Soothsayer whether he should return to Egypt, and all that he is told confirms his fears. Noticing that his luck is bad compared to Caesar’s, he resolves to leave, having married Octavia only for the sake of peace, while his pleasures are in the East. At Pompey’s feast, he mocks the credulous Lepidus with his description of the crocodile. He later rages against Caesar’s belittling behavior concerning him, and agrees to send Octavia as a mediator between them, using her absence as an opportunity to return to Egypt. There he and Cleopatra enthrone themselves as Emperor and Empress of the East, paying no attention to Rome itself. This complete rejection of Rome infuriates Caesar and gives him an excellent rallying call against Antony.
Despite the advice of his council, he insists on fighting Caesar at sea as Cleopatra recommends, and accepts to have her go to the war herself; but when she takes fright and flees, he follows. The sheer disgrace this brings on him, quite aside from the military defeat, breaks his spirit. He becomes aware of how far he has fallen, and turns on Cleopatra in a rage. He is reconciled to her, though. When Caesar refuses to accept his request to be allowed to live as a private citizen, he sends him back an insulting message calling for single combat between the two. Seeing Thidias having a private audience with Cleopatra and kissing her hand, he becomes enraged and has him whipped, cursing Cleopatra in fine style. He sends Thidias back with a message of defiance to Caesar, and rouses himself again, calling his captains to have a gaudy night with him. By bringing his followers to the point of tears, he is able to reaffirm their loyalty to him. Hearing that Enobarbus has deserted leaving all of his possessions behind, he sends them all after him. After his final defeat, he curses Cleopatra to her face as the cause of all his woes, but when she sends him the false news of her death he decides that he has lived long enough. He asks Eros to kill him, but the latter commits suicide rather than do so. Antony then attempts to kill himself, but does not manage it well, and is left slowly dying; like Eros, his guards refuses to give a fatal blow. Carried to the monument, he is lifted into it by Cleopatra and his women. He warns her to trust only Proculeius among the Romans, then begs to be remembered as he used to be and to be thought of as a Roman killed by a Roman. He then dies.
One of his first mistakes is letting himself be drawn into the world of Egypt and its delights. He forgets that not all Romans conceive of Egypt as he does. He loses much popular support, due in large part to Octavius Caesar's criticism; thus, ultimately, his devotion to Cleopatra seems like disloyalty to Rome. Yet, despite all his mistakes, Antony is a heroic figure, drawn larger than life by Shakespeare's poetry. His ever-increasing indecision is the mirror of his inner struggle to find a balance between two worlds and two sets of values. If he fails, it isn't because he doesn't try to achieve all that he can. His adventurous attitude suggests that he attempts to enlarge his awareness of what life can be. By contrast, Octavius is not heroic simply because he never questions his ideals nor deeply weighs his loyalties. Audiences, readers, and critics have always disagreed as to whether or not Antony made the right choice. Perceptions of the meaning of his actions will differ, but the end result is the same: Antony and Cleopatra is a powerful play because it has powerful characters who catch the imagination and never release it. They are lovers who are more mature than Romeo and Juliet and, for that reason, they are not easily forgotten.is problem causes him to endlessly vacillate, avoiding mailing a final decision until it is too late. Much of Antony's apparent impulsiveness, first deciding to give up all for Cleopatra, then deciding to return to Rome, etc., is a direct result of his basic underlying indecision. Because he cannot come to a conclusion about wha