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The depiction of constant change and instability in Shakespeares Antony and Cleopatra Introduction Constant change and instability are themes that are found throughout the play and that are applied by Shakespeare on many different levels The play differs from his other tragedies in many ways McBeth for instance -his previous play- has a more stringent linear plot with logically increasing tension and a fixed Machiavellian motive of the protagonist The motives of Antony are more complex and later in the play mostly subject to Cleopatras art of seduction The importance of the topic becomes evident in the very beginning of the play Philos monologue sums up the various changes that Mark Antony has gone through He is compared to the god of war Mars and is described as being one of Romes most valiant fighters Philos speech anticipates Antonys metamorphosis from a well-tempered roman military leader into an emotional lover negligent of his duties and commitments Although it is short Philos opening monologue reveals much about the habitus in which the play is assembled The ironical tone the dotage of our general and the sexual ambiguities the bellows and the fan give Antonys passion for Cleopatra a negative touch and make his character look inferior The play is therefore criticised by AC Bradley for dealing with a subject of such a historical impact in a rather light and almost comedian manner - ie if we recall Enobarus smart remarks during the triumvirs negotiation or Cleopatras childish intimidation of her messenger In this play Shakespeare tries to create something different He limits the tragic seriousness known from McBeth in favour of rather comic elements Antonys metamorphosis is being mocked Charmian and Iras call him the triple pillar of the world transformed into a strumpets fool His degradation continues as Cleopatra grumbles about his dependence on Caesar and Fulvia 1120ff However Antonys change becomes less surprising once Plutarchs description of Antony being lured into
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