Antony and Cleopatra Essay Titles

“Antony and Cleopatra” Essay Questions

Introduction

Great plays are full of complex characters and dramatic plots, but examination questions will require you to demonstrate your understanding of “Antony and Cleopatra” by focusing on how Shakespeare presents one key aspect or theme throughout the script. All of your thoughts and ideas should only refer to the key term of the essay title.

It is important to support your arguments with references to the playwright’s language and imagery, characterisation, structure, and the significance of the play’s social and historical context.

Antony

  • Antony may be the central figure of “Antony and Cleopatra” but he is certainly no tragic hero. Discuss Shakespeare’s presentation of Antony.
  • Philo introduces Antony with the promise that we shall see “the triple pillar of the world transform’d into a strumpet’s fool”. Explore how Shakespeare presents Antony as a tragic hero.
  • Explore the dramatic methods used by Shakespeare in presenting Antony as a tragic hero. You should consider language and imagery, characterisation, structure, and the significance of the play’s social and historical context.
  • Can Antony really be considered a tragic hero? Consider language and imagery, characterisation, structure, and the significance of the play’s social and historical context.
  • How does Shakespeare’s presentation of Antony’s transformation from the ‘demi-Atlas of this earth’ to an ‘all-disgraced’ leader cement the character’s status as a tragic hero?
  • Shakespeare greatest accomplishment is taking Plutarch’s tyrannical Antony and transforming him into a tragic hero.
  • Can a ‘strumpet’s fool’ really be considered a tragic hero?
  • Explore how Shakespeare presents Antony as a tragic hero who transforms from “the triple pillar of the world” to a “strumpet’s fool”.
  • Can Antony, who is a “child o’ th’ time”, really be considered a tragic hero?

Cleopatra

  • Enobarbus says “Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety”. Explore Shakespeare’s presentation of an exotic Cleopatra as a challenge to Jacobean ideas of womanhood.
  • Cleopatra has been described as both an “enchanting Queen” and a “triple-turned whore”. Explore how Shakespeare rises above the misogyny of his day.
  • “Triple-turned whore” or “lass unparalleled”? Explore how Shakespeare fails to rise above the misogyny of his day.
  • “Cleopatra is always at a disadvantage as a woman in a male-dominated world.” Show to what extent to agree with the view that Shakespeare fails to rise above the misogyny of his day.
  • Show to what extent you agree with the view that Cleopatra is a tragic heroine?
  • How does Shakespeare’s presentation of Cleopatra’s transformation from the ‘triple-turned whore’ to a ‘lass unparalleled’ cement the character’s status as a tragic heroine?
  • Susan Shapiro described Shakespeare as the “noblest feminist of them all”. Show to what extent Shakespeare presents Cleopatra as a challenge to Jacobean ideas of womanhood?
  • Shakespeare took Plutarch’s presentation of Cleopatra as a “pestilent plague” and transformed into a tragic heroine. Can Cleopatra really be considered a tragic heroine?
  • “Cleopatra is nothing more than a manipulative seductress.” Explore Shakespeare’s presentation of Cleopatra as a challenge to Jacobean ideas of womanhood.
  • As a confident ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra sends a powerful message on the strength, independence and virtue of women. Show to what extent you agree with the view that Shakespeare’s presentation of Cleopatra is a challenge to Jacobean ideas of womanhood.
  • How does Shakespeare’s presentation of Cleopatra as a ‘lass unparalleled’ rise above the misogyny of his day?

Caesar and Rome

  • Does Shakespeare’s unflattering depiction of Caesar reflect a sceptical attitude towards Jacobean politics and propaganda?
  • Show to what extent you agree with the following statement: “It is inconceivable that the audience could have failed to associate Caesar August and King James”. Consider language and imagery, characterisation, structure, and the significance of the play’s social and historical context.
  • Is Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” an ideologically dissident play that criticises the vices of Jacobean politics?

Thanks for reading!