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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Choices

Sex and passion are central to Antony and Cleopatra for its role in the main characters’ relationship, but also to how the pair makes the decisions that will ripple into their personal and po...

Contrasting Regions

The play is set up as an interaction between Rome and Alexandria, Egypt. That the settings mirror each other is a convenient device to interpret the meaning of the characters’ actions. Values...

Gender

Cleopatra is argued to be one of Shakespeare’s most fleshed out female characters, and in some ways she embodies a particular feminine identity. This is all complicated by Cleopatra’s u...

Betrayal

Characters in Antony and Cleopatra often have to choose between being loyal to their ideals and being loyal to their circumstances. Loyalty is central to a lot of the relationships in the play, but...

Love

Love is a central theme of the play because it’s always in question. Unlike the romantic stories of Shakespeare, the foundation of this play is tragedy. Love fails in the end (because the lov...

Power

Power in Antony and Cleopatra is ostensibly a political force, as the play turns around the competition between Antony and Caesar for dominance in Rome. But it has other facets too, most notably th...

Transformation

Transformation is a tricky theme in Antony and Cleopatra. Because characters seem to transform at the drop of a hat, the legitimacy of these transformations is always in question. In the end, we...

Guilt and Blame

Regret and repentance thread through much of Antony and Cleopatra because betrayal is so often at stake. Characters can be redeemed by their feelings of regret, and we can judge the earnestness of...

Duty

Duty is central to Antony and Cleopatra because it exemplifies the honor that is so central to being in a position of power. Duty to the state is held up for view in the play, but so is duty to lov...
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