Act IV, Scene 15: Summary and Analysis
This scene takes place in Alexandria, at Cleopatra’s monument, which contains the tomb she has built for herself. Antony has been brought to the monument. He begs Cleopatra to come down and kiss him before he dies, but she refuses, saying it’s too dangerous. But she and her attendants manage to hoist Antony up to where Cleopatra is. Antony and Cleopatra exchange a few lines before he dies. In his typical spirit of magnanimity, Antony tells Cleopatra to seek both her honor and her safety with Octavius. She protests that, here, honor and safety are incompatible. Cleopatra vows to give Antony a real Roman funeral.
In Scene 15, Cleopatra protests, after Antony has told her to seek honor and safety with Octavius (Caesar), that, here, honor and safety are incompatible—a line that shows her in a favorable light, especially to an audience of Shakespeare’s day. She has matured considerably, probably as a result of the crisis of the recent days, and determines to kill herself. In Elizabethan times, suicide was considered an honorable act; thus, Cleopatra, in making and carrying out this determination, exhibits a maturity that has been severely lacking in her character up to this point.