By Sara Munson Deats
Complementing different volumes within the Shakespeare feedback sequence, this number of twenty unique essays will extend the severe contexts during which Antony and Cleopatra might be loved as either literature and theater. The essays will hide a large spectrum of subject matters and make the most of a range of scholarly methodologies, together with textual and performance-oriented methods, intertextual stories, in addition to feminist, psychoanalytical, Marxist, and postcolonial inquiries. the quantity also will characteristic an in depth creation via the editor surveying the under-examined functionality background and significant trends/legacy of this complicated play. members comprise widespread Shakespeare students David Bevington, Dympna Callaghan, Leeds Barroll, David Fuller, Dorothea Kehler, and Linda Woodbridge.
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Extra info for Antony and Cleopatra: New Critical Essays (Shakespeare Criticism)
In his essay in this volume, Barroll examines the image clusters surrounding both Antony and Cleopatra to explore further the complexity of our response to these multifaceted characters. But, of course, Antony, like Cleopatra, has also enlisted ardent champions. Throughout the centuries, Antony’s famed magnanimity has provided a mantra for romantic apologists, who have waxed eloquent in praise of the generosity, bounty, and royalty of this mighty general. Even in the moralistic eighteenth century, Antony recruited defenders.
In response to these skeptics, commentators since Adolf Stahr (1864) have asserted that in Shakespeare’s play, as in Plutarch, the episode of the concealed treasure is a ruse, orchestrated by Cleopatra and rehearsed with Seleucus, devised to gull Caesar into believing that Cleopatra desires to live, thus making him less vigilant in his guard; moreover, the subterfuge works perfectly, and Caesar is “unpolicied” (qtd. in Harris and Scott 239). Many critics have endorsed Stahr’s reading (Furness, 1907; Wilson, 1950; J.
Charney (1961) responds similarly, portraying Octavius as a cold rather menacing indi- 34 Antony and Cleopatra vidual, who nevertheless possesses the qualities that ﬁt him for rule, qualities that Antony lacks, observing, “As in the case of Henry V, admirable sovereigns need not also be admirable and sympathetic persons” (91). In one of the most valuable studies of Octavius’s dual persona, Robert Kalmey (1978) traces this diversity of response to the contradictory image of Octavius inherited by Shakespeare from Elizabethan histories of Rome, in which Octavius was simultaneously honored as an ideal prince and disparaged as a vicious tyrant fomenting rebellion.