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Antony and Cleopatra - Essay Example

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However, his honor is placed in jeopardy when he is placed in an internal conflict between the love that he has for Cleopatra and the duty he has towards…
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, it becomes debatable if he actually lost honor or gained honor over the course of the play.
Berek (1981) notes that the play is full of conflicts and these conflicts are internal as well as external. For example, the conflict between Rome and Egypt is an external conflict which is reflected in political struggles as well as war in which honor can be gained or lost. For Antony however, the internal conflicts between reason and emotion as well as duty and love are more difficult to handle than war or politics. In fact, the character of Mark Antony gains as wel as loses honor because of these conflicts that he can not handle and as reported by Berek, “These fatal conflicts corrupt Mark Antony (in the older view of the play) or (as more recent critics argue) translate the lovers into a realm of pure nobility” (1981, Pg. 295).
The case of Antony is also complicated by the fact that his definition of honor focuses on who he is as a person. Instead of considering himself to be honorable if he is able to vanquish his enemies or honorable if he is able to help his friends in need, he considers his honor to be his own self. He says “If I lose my honor, / I lose myself” (Act 3, Scene 4) and for him, this definition is sufficient. While we have a general idea of what were honorable acts during the times the play is set, we have no real insight into what Mark Antony considers to be the exact meaning of honor.
We do however get an idea of what he could think is a loss of honor since falling in love with Cleopatra has made his lose his wife and his sense of duty towards Rome. In Act 1, Scene 2, Antony says that he could “lose himself” since he is continually doting upon Cleopatra and not focusing on his duties. At the same time, there is honor and inherent nobility in love which he considers to be more important than the duties that he feels. This sort of flip flop lets the audience know that he is indeed an honorable man but he is in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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