Antony And Cleopatra


In Shakespeare's tragedy, " Antony and Cleopatra", we are
told the story of two passionate and power-hungry lovers.
In the first two Acts of the play we are introduced to some
of the problems and dilemmas facing the couple (such as the
fact that they are entwined in an adulterous relationship,
and that both of them are forced to show their devotion to
Caesar). Along with being introduced to Antony and
Cleopatra's strange love affair, we are introduced to some
interesting secondary characters. One of these characters
is Enobarbus who is a high-ranking soldier in Antony's army
and seems to be very close to his commander. We know this
by the way Enobarbus is permitted to speak freely (at least
in private) with Antony, and often is used as a person in
whom Antony confides.. 
We see Antony confiding in Enobarbus in Act I, Scene ii, as
Antony explains how Cleopatra is "cunning past man's
thought" (I.ii.146). In reply to this Enobarbus speaks very
freely of his view of Cleopatra, even if what he says is
very positive:
"...her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of
pure love. We cannot call her winds and waters sighs and
tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs
can report. This cannot be cunning in her; if it be she
makes a shower of rain as well as Jove." (I, ii, 147-152)
After Antony reveals that he has just heard news of his
wife's death, we are once again offered an example of
Enobarbus' freedom to speak his mind, in that he tells
Antony to "give the gods a thankful sacrifice" (I.ii.162),
essentially saying that Fulvia's death is a good thing.
Obviously, someone would never say something like this
unless they were in very close company. While acting as a
friend and promoter of Antony, Enobarbus lets the audience
in on some of the myth and legend surrounding Cleopatra.
Probably his biggest role in the play is to exaggerate
Anthony and Cleopatra's relationship. Which he does so well
in the following statements:
When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart,
upon the river of Cydnus. (II.ii.188-189) 

 The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne, Burned on
the water: the poop was beaten gold; Purple the sails, and
so perfumed that The winds were lovesick with them; the
oars were silver, (II.ii.193-197) 

And, for his ordinary, pays his heart For what his eyes eat
only. (II.ii.227-228) Age cannot wither her, nor custom
stale Her infinite variety.... (II.ii.237-238) 

In these passages, Enobarbus turns Antony's and Cleopatra's
meeting into a fairy tale and leads the audience into
believing the two are inseparable. His speeches in Act II
are absolutely vital to the play in that this is how
Shakespeare wants the audience to view Antony and
Cleopatra. Also, in these passages, Cleopatra is described
as irresistible and beautiful beyond belief -- another view
that is necessary for us to believe, in order to buy the
fact that a man with so much to lose would be willing to
risk it all in order to win her love. Quite possibly, these
passages may hint that Enobarbus is himself in love with
Cleopatra. After all, it would be hard to come up with such
flowery language if a person were not inspired. Enobarbus
may be lamenting his own passions vicariously through the
eyes of Antony. This would be convenient in questioning
Enobarbus' loyalty, which becomes very important later on
in the play (considering he kills himself over grief from
fearing he betrayed his leader). 
The loyalty of Enobarbus is indeed questionable. Even
though we never hear him utter a single disparaging remark
against Antony, he does admit to Menas that he "will praise
any man that will praise me" (II.iii.88), suggesting that
his honor and loyalty may just be simple brown-nosing.
Shakespeare probably fashioned Enobarbus as a means of
relaying information to the audience that would otherwise
be difficult or awkward to bring forth from other
characters (such as Cleopatra's beauty and the story of her
betrayal of Caesar), but he also uses him as way to inject
some levity and humor in the play, showing the characters
eagerness to have a good time. Evidence of this comes in
Enobarbus' affinity for drunkenness. In both Act I and Act
II Enobarbus purports the joys of drink:
Bring in the banquet quickly: wine enough Cleopatra's
health to drink. (I.ii.13-24) 

Mine, and most of our fortunes, tonight, shall be -- drunk
to bed. (I.ii.47-48)
He even caps off Act II with a song for Bacchus and a
request for drunken celebration. In short, Enobarbus is
used as any good secondary character should be; he relays
information between characters, exposes other characters
and their traits, gives background information, and lets
the audience in on his surroundings and the general moods
and beliefs of the times he lived in. He is not just used
as a database however, through his speeches and his actions
we find a fully developed person, someone with thoughts,
motives, and feelings all his own -- a character who can't
be summed up in just a few sentences.


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