How has Shakespeare presented the three main characters to us by the end of Act 2? When we look at Antony, Cleopatra and Caesar, we immediately see that they are completely different characters. Our first impressions of Antony are a laid-back, relaxed man, who is obsessed with Cleopatra, as any man would be. We see Cleopatra as a queen, who has power over anyone she wants to. She is also very flamboyant. Caesar, meanwhile, seems not the type of person to rule a third of the Roman Empire, as he is too young, but as the play progresses, we see a different side to him, as a more ruling and powerful man.
To understand these characters more, I will study the text in more detail. When we first see Antony, in Act 1: Scene1, we get the impression that he is devoted to Cleopatra and he is a loyal lover to her, but not to his wife: Fulvia: “There’s beggary in the love that can be reckon’d. ” (line15) Shakespeare has presented him to us in this way because then later on in the play, when we see him as a politician, the audience will see that Antony can be more than the tranquil, carefree leader he is supposed to be.
Philo tells us that Antony is a great soldier, but because of Cleopatra, he is not interested in the Roman world anymore. He used to be like the military hero: Mars. We also hear that he does not respect Caesar as greatly as he should. All this is used by Shakespeare to present Antony as a useless warrior, but we are soon to be shown differently. At the end of Act 1: Scene 3, we see Antony in a different light. He is forceful with Cleopatra, in a verbal way, because she is being very sarcastic and will not let him speak, he must tell her that he has to be in Rome for the cause of his duty as a triumvirate:
” I go from hence Thy soldier, servant, making peace or war.. ” (line 70) Before this Antony had become quite frustrated with Cleopatra because she would not let him speak, showing us her domination. By doing this Shakespeare has given us an insight into the future personality of Antony: a leader, who will accept nothing but what he wants. We have learnt in this scene that Antony can have power over Cleopatra. When we move onto Act 1: Scene 4, we do not come across Antony, but Caesar and Lepidus, who are conversing about the third member of the triumvirate.
We learn elements of Antony’s personality from this conversation. Caesar refers to him as a competitor, an insight into the tension that lies ahead for the two leaders: ” It is not Caesar’s natural vice to hate Our great competitor. ” (line 2) Shakespeare is presenting Antony as a good competitor, as Caesar, one of the rulers, is afraid of him. We are seeing Antony as more of a soldier than before, as in Egypt he is indolent, but in Rome, he is strong and able. Caesar’s view then changes and he presents Antony to us as a brave soldier, who is likened to a stag: a symbol of male virility.
This is a side we have not yet seen of Antony and it was important for Shakespeare to praise him here because we have only seen him as a lover before. Even though Shakespeare wants Antony to be seen as a fighter, we are given reminders of his state in Egypt, so that we do not forget about Cleopatra and we do not forget what he used to be like. Such this thing happens in Act 2: Scene 1, when, for the first time, we meet Pompey, an enemy of the triumvirate. Pompey refers to Antony as a man who lives for pleasure and has no morals. He is disparaging towards him: “Tie up the libertine in a field of feasts; Keep his brain fuming. ” (line 22)