Antony and Cleopatra By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 4

Summary

It is early morning on the day of the great battle, and Cleopatra and some servants are helping Antony prepare for battle. Cleopatra urges him to sleep a bit longer, but Antony refuses; he calls for Eros, a servant, to bring him his armor. In a brief comic scene, Cleopatra says that she will help Antony put his armor on; she knows nothing about donning armor, of course, and so what she does is very clumsy. She picks up the wrong pieces, she buckles badly, but she eventually manages to get Antony dressed.

Trumpets sound offstage, soldiers enter, and Antony turns to Cleopatra and tenderly kisses her. He tells his men that the morning looks good, "like the spirit of a youth." He bids Cleopatra farewell, and he and his men exit. Cleopatra goes to her room to await the outcome.

Analysis

This fairly straightforward scene adds a momentary bit of lightness to the gloom of the preceding scene. The tender affection between Antony and Cleopatra is touching, for there is a sense of tragic irony here; we are familiar with the story, as were probably most of the theatergoers in Shakespeare's day. We know what the outcome will be. Still, however, there is a great deal of interest in seeing how the lovers' fates develop and how the dramatist will decide to create the tragedy's climax.

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