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YMMV / Antony and Cleopatra

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Interpretations of Cleopatra can differ wildly, especially due to changing values. At first the popular consensus was as a manipulative seductress, before other productions have emphasised her strength as a political leader. What's more is that does she eventually kill herself out of love for Antony? Or is it because she has lost political power?
    • Octavius's character can range from a cruel and ruthless politician, to a noble ruler who just wants the best for Rome.
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    • Depending on how both Antony and Cleopatra are portrayed, the play can easily end up coming across as more of a Black Comedy than a tragedy.
  • Common Knowledge: Cleopatra is not entirely written to be a seductress. That was just the common view of her for a while, ignoring the other layers to her character.
  • Broken Base: Does the play count as a tragedy or a history? Readers just can't decide.
  • Ho Yay: There are times when Enobarbus' praise seems like he has a thing for Antony.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The cunning Octavius Caesar aims to seize control of Rome and rebuild it as an Imperium with himself at the head. Manipulating Antony and Cleopatra both, Octavius acts to remove the pirate Sextus Pompey without Antony's assent and seizes his lands, also removing their fellow Triumvir Lepidus from power. Octavius also proceeds with marrying his sister Octavia to Antony, knowing Antony will be unable to resist Cleopatra, allowing Octavius to lay another charge against Antony in making war on him. Finally Octavius wins the war with Egypt, resulting with Antony and Cleopatra's deaths, admitting sympathy for them despite everything and ordering them to be given an honorable funeral before going on to reign as Rome's first true emperor.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The reason for the lengthy descriptions of Cleopatra's greatness, as opposed to letting the audience deduce that themselves? Shakespeare knew the young boy actor who would play Cleopatra on the stage simply couldn't live up to the descriptions of her greatness.
    • Earlier productions heavily play up the Madonna–Whore Complex between Octavia and Cleopatra respectively - illustrating Cleopatra as a Femme Fatale who led Antony to his doom, instead of the chaste and submissive Octavia.
  • Values Resonance: Cleopatra is recognised as one of Shakespeare's most complex female characters. While there is Fanon that depicts her entirely as an evil seductress, the truth is that she's far more layered and can be played one of several ways. What's more is that her final scene is an act of powerful defiance; rather than submit to Octavius's dominance, she goes out on her own terms.
    "My resolution and my hands I'll trust."


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