Antony is a hero in this context Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Aristottle defined a tragic hero as a man whos misfortune is not brought about by vice or depravity but by some error of frality. Do you agree that Antony is a hero in this context? In Shakespeares Antony and Cleopatra, Antony can be considered a tragic hero as he is lead into misfortunate, unfavourable situations and ultimately his death, not by vice or depravity but by his own fatal flaw; his love for the Eygptian queen Cleopatra. Before Antony met Cleopatra, he was regarded with the highest respect, as he was a military hero and major asset to the Roman empire. Antonys reputation as a powerful general is established through a conversation between two of his soldiers in the opening act.  His captains heart, Which in scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast.

The soldiers description of Antony shows him to be an exceedingly strong and dynamic military figure and by describing his heart as a captains heart suggests his heart and life is devoted to the Roman army. However, this all changes when he gets involved with Cleopatra. One learns frmo the soldiers conversation that the once fierce warrior has been degraded to a strumpets fool by Cleopatras affection. His infatuated, obsessive behaviour towards Cleopatra in the commencing act confims the soldiers accusation and even at the very beginning of the play Antonys weakness for Cleopatra gets him into unfavourable situations.

The initial realisation of the negative effects of Cleopatra on Antony is demonstrated when a messenger approaches Antony with instruction from Caesar. Cleopatra taunts and teases Antony, influencing him to forsake the message. Doting Antony follows her lead and declares,  Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space By saying this, Antony is openly stating that he is choosing love over his duty and that he does not care if the Roman Empire falls as a result of his absence, as long as he is with Cleopatra. Antony therefore dismisses the messenger and does not hear Caesars news. This incident leads to conflict between Antony and Caesar and when the two meet it is clear that their already unstable relations have been aggrivated. If Antony would have ignored Cleopatras snide comments and demanding behaviour, he would have received Caesars message and avoided internal problems in Romes triumvirs.

In the process of re-establishing the ties between Caesar and himself, Antony married Caesars sister, Octavia in an attempt to bring the two leaders together. Both Antony and Caesar are comfortable and pleased with the arrangement and it seems to sooth their relations. All would have been secure between the two triumvirs is Antony had stayed loyal to his wife, however he gives into the temptation of Cleopatra and commits adultery against Octavia. When Caesar hears word of Antonys behaviour he is furious and in a rage he proclaims to his sister,  You are abused Beyond the mark of thought, and the high gods, To do you justice. Outraged at Antonys public adultery, Caesar promises his sister that he will seek revenge for her humiliation. Caesar is therefore encouraged to wage war on Antony instead of putting aside their differences and avoiding bitter conflict. Once again, Antonys flaw leads him into further trouble and chaos.

The full extent of the misfortune caused by Antonys weakness is shown through his battle against Caesar. Cleopatra initially gives Antony ships and men to strengthen his force. However, during the battle Cleopatra and her ships flee the battle. To his soldiers horror, Antony walks out on the battle to follow Cleopatra. Witnessing this many of his men desert him and join the opposing side. A comibination of Antonys rage and the understanding of the devastation that she has caused, Cleopatra commits suicide. With news of Cleopatras death, Antony declares,  Disgrace and horror, that on my command Thou then wouldst kill me. Dot; the time is come.

In reflecting on the disrespect he has gained through his vain attack on his own empire, Antony feels that the only way of getting back any of his respect and dignity would be to kill himself. If Antony had not let his flaw rule him and if he would have fought instead of run after Cleopatra, he would have most likely have been successful. However, he gave in to his weakness and in giving in to his weakness, he practically assigns his own death.

Antony can therefore be defined as a tragic hero his death is caused by his fatal flaw; his love for Cleopatra. If Antony had stayed true to his captains heart he would have avoided conflict with Caesar and would have been a successful general. Although the extent of his heroism is controversial, as in situations such as his reluctance to kill himself he is shown to be of weak nature, his role as a military hero is underminded and ultimately ended by consequences triggered off by his weakness of choosing love over duty.

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