Study Guide

The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra Writing Style

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Writing Style

Dramatic; Passionate; Florid

Shakespeare’s style in this play is befitting of the drama and passion of the story, full of the fury and passion of love and war. Enobarbus’s speech about 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 lines long and mostly driven by deliberate action. There are 42 scenes total, making it one of Shakespeare’s most erratic plays.

With the characters, Shakespeare reflects their different circumstances and personalities with their words, both in content and in style. Cleopatra, Octavia, and Antony are given to saying "O!" and "fie!" as often as Enobarbus and Caesar are to speaking 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.

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