Sunday, October 24, 2004

Focalization Within Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra with Highlights From Act 4

  • The Focalizer is a character within the play that the playwright employs to manipulate the perspective/point of view of the theatergoing audience. In Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Antony fulfills this role. His constant partying, hedonistic tendencies and his inclination to stray from his political duties as the third triumvir are all crucial elements to Antony's role as the focalizer.

Highlights/Memorable Moments of Act 4:

  • Scene 2- Antony is self-disillusioned and desparate. He parties when he should be plotting an exit strategy in his battle with Caesar.
  • Scene 3- Hercules abandons Antony when several men hear oboes playing, which are the sounds symbolic of the God Hercules abandoning Antony.
  • Scene 4- Cleopatra arms Antony in his own armor in a scene that confirms her power over the Roman triumvir. This incident also blurs the sex roles within the play, for it is often Cleopatra who dons Antony's sword (a symbol of his manhood).
  • Scene 6- Enobarbus abandons Antony and recites a soliloquy during which he expresses his regret over abandoning Antony in an act of treason and joining Caesar's forces.
  • Scene 8- Antony discusses his union with Cleopatra in a rather graphic and sexual manner: "Chain mine arm'd neck! Leap thou, attire and all, Through the proof of harness to my heart, and there Ride on the pants triumphing!" (4.8.14-16).
  • Scene 8- Antony expresses his inner desire to party in a scene that reveals both his military masculinity and exposes his lushness/femininity.
  • Scene 9- Enobarbus' death, which is likely caused by self-inflicted wounds.
  • Scene 12- This is the final moment of Antony's rejection of Cleopatra-- Antony will no longer crawl back to Cleopatra, for the Queen of the Nile has cried wolf (so to speak) too many times.
  • Scene 13- Cleopatra takes leave of Antony and sends a messenger to tell the Roman triumvir that she has killed herself merely so she can observe his reaction to the news. The news serces as both a tragic joke and a test of Antony's devotion to Cleopatra, which the cunning queen utilizes as a gauge to measure Antony's love for her.
  • Scene 14- Antony looks into the sky and analyzes the cloud formations above him. Also, Cleopatra steals the limelight from Antony's death in this scene with the last word on his death.

Many of these highlights reveal much about Cleopatra's roleplay throughout Antony and Cleopatra. The Egyptian Queen constantly wears a mask and the reader/audience is never truly sure about how she feels (in particular how she feels about Antony).

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