The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
How we cite our quotes:
If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.
I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd.
Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth. (1.1.14)
Our introduction to Antony and Cleopatra sets the stage for the theme of love in the play: he is earnest in trying to prove his love for her – and she is slightly cruel and flippant with him. Their positions will flip often, but likely one will be in love while the other is feeling murderous, and vice versa. They constantly need each other’s affirmation (to be sure they love) and scorn (to be sure no one gets too comfortable).
Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly,
You do not hold the method to enforce
The like from him.
What should I do I do not?
In each thing give him way; cross him in nothing.
Thou teachest like a fool- the way to lose him. (1.3.6)
Charmian advises Cleopatra not to play hard to get. Cleopatra sees that in her version of love, the most important thing is to never seem willing to give in. Playing powerful and hard to get is the best way to ensure Antony will still love her – it seems it’s her power and tempestuousness that keep him interested in her.
Courteous lord, one word.
Sir, you and I must part- but that's not it.
Sir, you and I have lov'd- but there's not it.
That you know well. Something it is I would-
O, my oblivion is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten! (1.3.86)
Sometimes love steals our words from us. It seems the nature of love is to be driven to distraction, even for the best of us.