What are some examples of emotes in Antony and Cleopatra?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Emote" means which emotions the actors would display on stage when exploring the characters.  There are a lot of complex things going on in this play, and it is extremely emotional.  We are talking about the most complicated, stressful, and tragic time of these two characters’ lives, right before they die. 

First of all, you will notice that Antony and Cleopatra are varied in their emotions.  They are sometimes fierce, sometimes sentimental, and sometimes loving.  They have vicious fights, but also sometimes show each other great tenderness.  Their dealings with others also vary.  For example, Cleopatra does not treat messengers very well.  If you want to tell her something, it better be something she wants to hear! 

The emotions the characters show demonstrate their fading grasp on reality.  Antony is strong and virile in the beginning of the play, but as the play goes on he seems less sure of himself and even insane.  Consider that he handles the meeting with Lepidus and Caesar shrewdly, but as the battle does not go his way he loses it.  His loss of control is demonstrated in physical actions, such as having the messenger whipped. 

MARK ANTONY

Approach, there! Ah, you kite! Now, gods
and devils!
Authority melts from me: of late, when I cried 'Ho!'
Like boys unto a muss, kings would start forth,
And cry 'Your will?' Have you no ears? I am
Antony yet.

Enter Attendants

Take hence this Jack, and whip him. (Act 3, Scene 13) 

These actions, which seem to amuse Enobarbus and concern Cleopatra, demonstrate that Antony is losing control.  He tries to take it back by sending a message to Caesar, but it is the wrong message.  Caesar will see it as another weakness of Antony’s, further proof that he is not a worthy opponent. 

By contrast to Antony and Cleopatra, Octavius Caesar is calm and collected.  He does not have fits or tantrums like they do.  This demonstrates him as the cunning foe, and the eventual winner.  Caesar does not threaten or scream, but he can certainly be an imposing figure.  He calmly tells Octavia that her husband, Antony, has betrayed her. 

OCTAVIUS CAESAR

I have eyes upon him,
And his affairs come to me on the wind.
Where is he now?

OCTAVIA

My lord, in Athens.

OCTAVIUS CAESAR

No, my most wronged sister; Cleopatra
Hath nodded him to her. He hath given his empire
Up to a whore … (Act 3, Scene 6) 

Caesar is always convinced that he will win.  He is used to being underestimated.  He also uses every turn of events to his advantage.  He manipulates Antony into marrying his sister, so that he will have something else to hold against him.  He eliminates Lepidus easily and legally.  Surrounding himself with advisers like Agrippa and Macaenas, Caesar is always one step ahead of Antony.  He uses Antony’s emotional decisions against him, like his will and the donations to Cleopatra and his children. 

You can also see an array of emotions in another character, Enobarbus.  Enobarbus acts as a sort of assistant and adviser to Antony, but he also leads the audience through the action of the play.  His description of Antony and Cleopatra’s first meeting on the barge is full of awe and sentiment.  He wishes to explain Antony’s actions.  His depiction of Cleopatra makes her out to be some kind of siren, whom Antony cannot resist.

MECAENAS

Now Antony must leave her utterly.

DOMITIUS ENOBARBUS

Never; he will not:
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed (Act 2, Scene 2)

Enobarbus’s suicide also demonstrates another common emotion in the play—guilt.  Guilt eats away at several characters, including Antony and Cleopatra.  Enobarbus feels that he has betrayed Antony by going back to Caesar.  Yet Antony was not the soldier he remembered.  Cleopatra’s guilt and sense of being trapped results in “immortal longings” and she kills herself too.  She feels guilty about causing Antony’s death.  Antony, of course, also kills himself because he has lost his reputation.

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Antony and Cleopatra

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