Antony’s greatest and most prominent affect of judgement is when Cleopatra persuades him to fight at sea. Antony has submitted to love and passion and leads a life by desire and impulse rather than calculation and rationality. When he decides to fight the battle on sea instead of “standing on the earth/ And fighting foot to foot” (3, 7, 65-6)8 he shows very irrational thinking which is unlike a Roman. He appears to have taken on more Egyptian like traits. He is throwing away his “absolute soldiership” all because of love.
This can clearly be seen when Enobarbus says: “Your ships are not well manned” (3,7,84)9 even though Antony and his army are stronger at land battles and are more likely to win on a land terrain he refuses to see sense, purely because his love Cleopatra also desires to fight at sea. The audience is more inclined to trust the word of Enobarbus, at this point, as it can be seen that his judgment has not been affected by love as he speaks with absolute sense. In addition to this it can be seen that Antony’s judgement is so affected by Cleopatra that he has been blinded by love.
However this can also be seen on another level. Antony refers to Cleopatra as “Thetis” (3, 7, 60)10. “Thetis” is a goddess of the ocean. This shows his true devotion to her and her judgement as he believes that she will protect him on the sea just like a goddess of the sea would. This shows that perhaps his decision was not made out of stupidity. The notion that Antony has been blinded by love is furthered when he says, “by sea, by sea” (3, 7, 40)11. This displays his excitement because it is repeated it creates speed and makes him say it in a rushed voice.
This also reveals to the audience that he is considering this as a game, more like an Egyptian would rather than a serious matter like a responsible Roman would. In addition to this his excitement demonstrates that he merely taking up the battle at sea to show off to Cleopatra. The Sea, which Antony so longs to fight on, is a metaphor. Shakespeare uses it to represent the sinking of Antony’s life. Antony’s army could not win battles when they were fought on the sea. This relates to Antony’s inability to balance out work and pleasure and keep himself afloat, like his ships during the battle.
His judgement and actions were slowing drowning him by forcing his ships, and his men to turn away from him. In the first sea battle Antony’s complete devotion and excessive infatuation towards Cleopatra led to his overall downfall. Antony abandons his former life when he turns and chases Cleopatra’s ship; a move which lost him many followers and his place as a leader of Rome. Although it was foolish that he was “Leaving the fight in height” and “flies after her” (III. 10. 20)12 it displays his absolute devotion to Cleopatra. “Height” shows the battles importance, where either side could win.
The audience can identify that the battle was lost by the “very ignorance” (III. 10. 7)13 of Antony and Cleopatra rather than a tacitly miscalculation. Antony sacrificed everything for love, his honor, power and the support of his men. This is the turning point in the play because it is when he makes a definite choice between the two worlds. After Antony fled from battle after Cleopatra he is harshly criticized and it appears his greatness has deteriorated and his down fall has begun. This can be seen from Scarus saying: “I ne’er saw an action of such shame.
Experience, manhood, honor, ne’er before did violate so itself. ” (3, 10, 21-3) 14This shows that his greatness has diminished greatly as the ones in his company now believe he has shamed himself. They also believe he has disgraced his manhood. This only leaves one to believe that his peers now consider him somewhat effeminate. By putting love above the battle he has quashed his Roman ideologies and his judgement has emasculated him. Also the fact that Scarus says: “We have kissed away Kingdoms and provinces” (3, 10, 7-8)15 this again clearly shows that the battle was lost due to love and with little struggle.
Also the word “kissed” shows that Antony’s judgment and Roman work ethics have been affected as “kissed away Kingdoms and provinces” shows that he did it with pleasure and reveals that he holds love higher that the responsibility of his army. When studying Egypt and Rome, the main geographical locations in the play, one can see how they are representative of the different parts of Antony’s life. Rome represents work, power, and responsibility, whereas Egypt represents love and joy. Antony finds himself torn between the Rome of his duty and the Egypt of his pleasure.
The geographical poles that draw him in opposite directions represent deep-seated conflicts between his reason and emotion, and his obligations to his country and his private needs. In the closing scene of the play Antony’s judgement has appeared to have completely diminished his greatness all together. This can be seen from the events immediately before his death. This can primarily be seen from Eros and the respect that he feels for Antony making him take his own life rather than Antony’s. After Eros kills himself Antony says: “thrice nobler than myself, thoust teachest me, O vailent Eros, what I should, and coulst not.
My queen and Eros have by their brave instruction got upon me a nobleness in record” (4, 14, 96-9)16. Antony’s nobleness and honor have completed vanished. This is one of the first humiliations he suffers before he eventually dies. It has become apparent to him that even Eros, a subordinate soldier, and Cleopatra, a woman, have been “thrice nobler” and have been able to take their own lives when he could not. When Antony learns this he tries to take his own life. However Antony fails and leaves himself fully conscious but physically helpless.
By Antony saying: “How? Not dead” (4,14,104)17 draws sympathy for him from the audience because he suffers yet another embarrassment as his greatness has declined to such an extent that Shakespeare presents him as not even being able to execute himself properly. In addition to this Antony’s judgment has been affected so much from his devotion to Cleopatra, that because he believes she’s dead, he considers death as a constructive thing that will rekindle their love by bringing him to his “lover’s bed” (4, 14, 101)18.
This represents his complete devotion and is ironic as love is intended to create life not end it. Also Antony believes he is going to be a “bridegroom” (4, 14, 100)19 in death. This is a paradox as the unity of two people is considered a joyous occasion where as death is regarded as a depressing situation. During this scene Shakespeare uses numerous paradoxes: “For with a wound I must be cured” (4, 14, 77)20 this presents wit and humor to the audience even though it arises in a time of great seriousness. This helps grip the audience.
Antony and Cleopatra is of the tragedy genre but Shakespeare has incorporated mild wit and humor to keep the audience interested. The play leaves the audience with a sympathetic view of Antony as it was his complete devotion to Cleopatra which led to his judgmental downfall which in turn led to his overall downfall. The lover’s relationship was constructive and destructive and appears to portray the message that love comes at a price. For Antony this was firstly his precise judgment then his social status and ultimately his death.