What striking points differentiate Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra from Dryden's Cleopatra drama All For Love?IN WHAT WAYS IS DRYDEN'S CLEOPATRA INFERIOR OR SUPERIOR TO SHAKESPEARE'S?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dryden's versification in All for Love, his blank verse poem about the love between Marc Antony and Cleopatra, is competent and interesting, but it doesn't not have the majestic ring of Shakespeare's elegant verse in his blank verse dramatic work Antony and Cleopatra. Nonetheless, Dryden's story and Shakespeare's story of the world's most famous lovers are approached so differently that once the modesty of Dryden's poetry as compared to Shakespeare's poetic prowess is acknowledged, it is fair to speak in some regards of the superiority of Dryden's version of the story of Marc Antony and Cleopatra over Shakespeare's version.

Shakespeare approach his version of the story from an historical perspective, attempting to give his, sometimes not very flattering, perception of these two lovers as powerful leaders who often act for their own aggrandizement rather than from a notion of being monarchs. One way Shakespeare accomplishes this is to focus separately on Marc Antony and separately on Cleopatra, showing them in their separate and imperial roles. Dryden approaches his version of the story from the personal perspective, attempting to give his, often warm and forgiving, perception of these two leaders as overpowered lovers who are dependent on each other's love and devotion. One way Dryden does this is to focus on Marc Antony and Cleopatra together in each others' company.

If you judge the two Marc Antony and Cleopatra story versions by versification, the power of intricate language usage and historical representation of legendary leaders, then Shakespeare's version will most probably get the evaluation from every critic of being superior to Dryden's. If, on the other hand, you judge the two story versions by the telling of a human story, in this case a story of the warmth and drama of a human love, then Dryden's version may very well win the evaluation of being superior.