The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra
Analysis: Writing Style
Dramatic; Passionate; Florid
Shakespeare’s style in this play is befitting the drama and passion of the story, full of the fury and passion of love and war. Enobarbus’ speech on Cleopatra, and Antony’s description of the Nile crocodile both reflect the lushness and playfulness that characterize Egypt. However, these grandiose and quirky scenes are offset by the jerky movements of the battle scenes, some only a few minutes long, and mostly driven by deliberate action. There are 42 scenes total, making it one of Shakespeare’s most erratic plays.
In each character, Shakespeare reflects the difference of their circumstance and personality with their words – in content and in style. Cleopatra, Octavia and Antony are given to "O!" and "fie!" as often as Enobarbus and Caesar speak straight and clearly. It’s another way to use style to deliver the meaning and content of the play – about two divided worlds ruled by disparate kinds of people, their disparate motivations, and their subjugation to either passion or reason.