“The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch
Which hurts and is desired.”
Since finishing Julius Caesar last fall during the 24-hour Readathon, I have been anxious to read Antony and Cleopatra. This play, while not a "sequel," does talk about what happens to the Roman empire after the death of Julius Caesar. In this new Rome, it is ruled by three men: Antony, Octavius Caesar, and Lepidus.
However, Antony has been cavorting and canoodling with Cleopatra in Egypt, so he has been a bit out of the loop. Things have taken a turn as Lepidus has started to push out and abuse his power. Antony must return to Rome to set things right with Caesar. This is where the play derives its plot and set things in motion. Antony and Caesar form an alliance, but the relationship with Cleopatra complicates Antony's decisions.
The last chunk of the play recounts the deaths of both Cleopatra and Antony, as well as how Rome was reunited under Caesar to start anew. Of course there is more to it in between all that, but I can't give away everything, right?
It certainly sounds interesting, but I wasn't as into this play as I thought it would be. One of my biggest peeves was how...spread out the play seemed. This is really the first play by Shakespeare where the action is spread out over a long period of time...and it is noticeable. There were small scenes interspersed into the play where a character or two seemed to "sum up" what was going on with the battles and war between the three rulers. I was a little bit...annoyed with these scenes. I am used to the fast-paced action of Shakespeare's plays, where they usually take place in the matter or days or weeks. Not months.
The best part of the play, however, was Cleopatra. Shakespeare portrays her as a witty, passionate woman. You could tell that she really loved Antony and her people. Her aims were to love him and to love her people. She made decisions for the good of Egypt and herself.
I loved the banter with Antony in the beginning when they were still together. I also loved the degree of her temper when learns about some of Antony's "betrayals." I think I would have gotten along well with her. :)
In all, while Antony and Cleopatra was an enjoyable play, there were bits and pieces that simply didn't work for me. I think it is a play that is overshadowed by some of the others before it, like Julius Caesar.
“That truth should be silent I had almost forgot."
For those of you who have read this one, what did you think? Did I miss a big part of it?