Talk:2008 BM1 Assignment 2: Antony and Cleopatra

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Student Discussion

In fact I have only one question: How can I answer 5 questions properly on only 3 pages (especially with that given style sheet)? Would be very much kind if someone can explain that to me...and the lines are incorrect.when we set the starting line with 123 then I count 166 or am I wrong? (as it is important for giving the sections) Cheerz!

--User:Jessika Thiele 22:28, 22 May 2008 (CEST)

1. I think using our textbook for the line-references would be the best solution. 2. I agree that question 5 looks rather extensive compared to the other tasks, but since every question offers the chance to earn the same number of points, I don't think that the teachers expect a very long, detailed answer here. --Alena Ruether 17:47, 23 May 2008 (CEST)

Da hast Du Recht! Die Aufgaben sind viel zu umfangreich und wenn man etwas rausließe, würde sich dies mit Sicherheit negativ auf die Note auswirken, da es dann nicht detailliert genug wäre. Darüber hinaus bin ich auch der Ansicht, dass das in den Aufgaben geforderte nicht ausreichend im Seminar besprochen wurde. Ich fühle mich mit der Aufgabenstellung doch sehr allein gelassen!

I now started task 3...characterization.Am a little deep into Agrippa's me it seems kinda mixture between a dialogue (in first lines) and then it has more traits of a on that sheet with the nice headline Analysing Dramatic Communication there is only choice between dialogue and soliloquy.quite confusing. So am I wrong and it is mainly a soliloquy? and whyyyyyy? As I thought a soliloquy is some kind of monolgue without anyone watching. Cheerz! --User:Jessika Thiele 18:02, 23 May 2008 (CEST)

Excerpt questions

I do have the same problems! And last time (first assignment)it really helped to have a look into the assignments from last semester! But I don't know how to get there! So could anybody put the link in here? That would be very kind! I hope that will help! Good luck to all the other --Lena Stüttelberg 18:41, 23 May 2008 (CEST)

Goto "Main Page" (left side), click "materials" (right side), then "Category: Tests", then "Assignment". But that won't help you since there ain't no example of any 2nd assignments. Or is it that I just can't see it, find it, or is the whole path I just described wrong? I need some help too...
Just viewed the next problem: the passage thats being typed into the assignments "article" (btw: she 's called CLEOPATRA!;-) ) includes Lepidus' "Happily amen!", but Lepidus would be the FOURTH character. In 3. CAHARCTERISATION there are just THREE characters to characterise. CONFUSING ALL THIS! I hope that this is to be disregarded cause Lepidus just goes on my nerves (only concerning this assignment, this is!).

I have the same problem! which three characters??? Anthony, Caesar, Agrippa, and Lepidus are FOUR characters…… and Octavia could be another….. !!!??????

At frist...the three main characters are obviously Antony,Caesar and Agrippa...Lepidus is just a minor role and his Happily,Amen! is there cause it actually completes the dialogue (seals the decision of the marriage, as you wanna hear my opinion) and...the thing with Octavia...Octavia is not speaking in there...she is just in a different way of writing cause it is a person and all persons are written that way (look into your own main text and then you will see!)Cheerz! --Jessika Thiele 21:45, 24 May 2008 (CEST)

Next problem (beloved Task 3 again): To what extend are we supposed to "anayse the effect"?!? I surely could write ten or more pages... Time is running!
I kind of like the plan that we don’t have to write ten pages. My solution for keeping it short is to just grab out a few passages which I analyse and then give a short statement with the quotation to underline it.
It helped me a lot to read the solutions of the assignments of 2007. Just search with the search function “assignment solution” and you will get there.

Some Links:

Quotation problem

I do have a little problem in quoting, because it is hard for me to count the lines! There are so many sentences going on in the next lines and therefore the lines are counted in another way and it is hard for me to reconstruct how they count! Maybe somebody could help me?

Or tell me the way/trick to count the lines! --Lena Stüttelberg 21:27, 25 May 2008 (CEST)

I have the same problem…how are we supposed to count the lines if there are seven lines between line 20 and line 25????? Very annoying… --Marietta Sonnenschein 22:16, 25 May 2008 (CEST)

It is verses they count and a verse is full when it has reached its full number of stressed syllables - we spoke about all this in the first sessions this semester, didn't we? Those who were with us might even be able to tell what kind of verses we have got here. --Olaf Simons 11:02, 26 May 2008 (CEST)

Well there is no problem in couting the stressed syllables. But the problem is how many stressed syllables belong to one line?! I think we did not do it in our course!

Blank verses are called "blank" verses because they blank your minds and memories as soon as you encounter them. I must have mentioned blank verses! --Olaf Simons 20:25, 26 May 2008 (CEST)

Do you use the Arden edition for your assignment? there you can see that sometimes when a new character starts speaking, it is indented, which means that it still counts to the line before! And if you consider this, it fits with the lines! --Fiebie 19:59, 26 May 2008 (CEST)

Model solution

Question 1

5 pts: length of speech units; 5 pts: interruptions; 5 pts: dominant idea; 5 pts: dominant speaker

When it comes to the number of lines spoken Agrippa dominates the passage. He begs leave to make a proposal and delivers a speech he has prepared beforehand. At the same time he is clearly subordinate: It is Caesar who has to grant the permission to speak and who has to substantiate the marriage proposal concerning his sister, Octavia. Antony is in this constellation in a helpless position: He is being talked about in the beginning, he has to clarify his private situation in the event, and he must finally enquire about the conditions of the proposal Agrippa made.

Possible options: dialogue, speech (monologue), dialogue

Question 2

6 pts: identify sections; 6 pts: name sections; 6 pts: show how sections connect; 2 pts: bonus for identified power relations; min. 10 pts for any sensible attempt of dividing passage up in sections and giving their content

The passage can be divided into three sections:

  • Section one: lines 123-131: Caesar invites Agrippa to speak. Agrippa speaks of Antony as a widower. Caesar intervenes and mentions Antony’s obligations towards Cleopatra – forcing him to discredit his relationship with her – the situation Agrippa needs to make his proposal.
  • Section two: Agrippa’s “studied” speech praises Octavia’s virtues and the good effects a marriage based on Octavia’s love for both her brother and her future husband would have on the friendship between Caesar and Antony. Agrippa concludes his speech with a note on its status: it is a prepared speech.
  • Section three: Antony has to evaluate the proposal and asks Caesar for his opinion – who in turn asks Antony for his opinion – who first needs to hear Caesar’s authorisation. Caesar grants this and Antony replies – humbly – that he will accept the marriage proposal and asks for Caesar’s hand.

Question 3

6 pts: Agrippa; 7 pts: Caesar; 7 pts: Antony; within these: up to 3 pts for reference to Pfister's characterization chart; up to 3 pts for character traits; up to 2 pts for connection between Caesar’s and Antony’s characters

Agrippa plays the neutral and humble observer, acts however clearly on Caesar’s behalf. He does not speak without Caesar’s permission, and carefully keeps “his” proposal a personal but studied idea – an idea which Caesar remains free to substantiate once Antony has commented on it. The characterisation is figural and implicit – Agrippa is characterised by his manner of speaking and the position he gains under Caesar. Compared with Enobarbus, Antony’s follower, Agrippa carefully protects Caesar’s authority.

Caesar is the dominant character, though he does not exhibit his position – he speaks 10 of the 38 lines – lines in which he can modify the positions of those present. Indirect communication characterises the politician: lines 127-39 he “protects” Antony from Cleopatra’s judgment – with the result that Antony has to modify his position towards her. After Agrippa’s proposal he has the power to demand Antony’s statement before he gives his own. He is able to attack Antony with insinuations and to eventually act the benevolent brother and perfect statesman ready to marry her off if the political situation demands this. Caesar refers to himself (unlike Antony) frequently in the third person, stressing his personal “power”.

Having to speak with Caesar and his spokesman, Antony is manoeuvred into a position in which he has to react. Unlike Caesar he does not use the royal third person singular – he defends himself against hidden accusations, and accepts the offer Caesar makes. He does not express a will of his own and does not comment Agrippa’s proposal before Caesar has clarified the situation. He is the only one present who is characterised by someone else in the situation, in addition he characterises himself both explicitly (by clarifying his status) and implicitly (by losing power in the confrontation). A nonverbal characterisation is added: he holds out his hand and has to wait for Caesar to accept it.

Question 4

8 pts: genus medium; 4 pts for each of the three supporting arguments/reasons; possible points for incorrect but well argued identification of passage as "genus grande" or "genus humile"

The speech is genus medium or mixtum the medium level, designed to induce a deliberation of advantages and future results of the proposal Agrippa makes. It is meant to persuade. The options presented are delightful rather than moving. A number of stylistic embellishments are carefully constructed:

  • the metaphor of a “knot” knitting the hearts of Antony and Caesar together,
  • a longer chiastic antithesis (contrasting present rumours and future fame), runs through lines 138-142, it is eventually dissolved in another chiasmus in lines 142-44 (uniting the opposites in the person of Octavia).

Question 5

Min. 10 pts for a sensible attempt of bringing in connection one or several topics from the passage with the rest of the play; 10-20 pts depending on the complexity of insight

There is no one solution on this question.

  • The passage foreshadows the power play between Antony and Caesar with its result – Antony will lose in all personal confrontations.
  • Gender is an interesting topic with Octavia being married off for political reasons – she has no say in this – which foreshadows the loss of power she will again suffer after the marriage
  • Antony’s tragic role as a person who reacts rather than acts is mirrored in the scene. He reduces Enobarbus to a silent listener before the quoted passage (as he will later on defy his military advice), and renounces his affair with Cleopatra rather than using his freedom to solidify his position now that his wife is dead.
  • The play is eminently political – it focuses on interactions between powerful rulers (the triumvirate, Pompey, Cleopatra) and introduces a layer of subordinate characters (Agrippa, Enobarbus, Menas, Charmian…) who become spokesmen and commentators, capable of personal views differing from their masters’.

Samples from Student Assignments

Q 1

The passage from William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (lines 123-161, Scene 2, Act II) to be discussed in this assignment begins with a dialog between Agrippa, Caesar and Antony (l.123-131). The conversation is interrupted by a monological dialog (l. 132-146) by Agrippa. This passage is followed by a balanced dialog between Antony and Caesar (l. 146-161), where Caesar has nine and Antony ten lines. It is ended by two longer statements on behalf of the two characters (l. 152-161).

The dominant idea in this dialog is the arrangement of a marriage between Antony and Caesar's sister Octavia, (l. 134-135). All that is spoken in this section revolves around this idea.

Even though Agrippa presents the dominant idea "take Anthony, Octauia to his wife" (l. 134-135) and has the most lines (18) in this dialog, the dominant speaker is Caesar. This shows in Agrippa's submissive way in addressing Caesar "Giue me leaue Caesar" (l. 123) and Caesar's interruption and objection to Agrippa's speech "Say not so Agrippa" (l. 127). Another indicator for Caesar's dominance is given in the dialog between Antony and Caesar after they have heard Agrippa's proposal. Here, Antony merely asks questions and leaves the decision up to Caesar (l. 146-152).
(19 /20)

Q 2

The passage can be divided into four sections. In the first section (l.123-131) Agrippa states that Caesar has a sister and that Antony is not married anymore. Caesar interrupts Agrippa, hinting that Antony is already involved with Cleopatra. Antony does not deny this. He however points out that he is not married and therefore wishes to hear Agrippa's proposal. This section serves the purpose of an introduction for the audience to a new idea in the storyline.

The second section consists of Agrippa's monological dialog (l. 132-146). In it, he proposes a marriage between Antony and Octavia and proceeds to argue his case with different arguments. These include Octavia's amenities, the improvement of the relationship between Caesar and Antony and the power of Octavia's love to bind the two men together. He concludes by admitting that he has spent some time thinking about this proposal.

The third section consists of the short exchange between Antony and Caesar after Agrippa's proposal (l. 146-152). Antony is inquiring what Caesar thinks about a marriage. Caesar returns the question to Antony, who seems unable or unwilling to take a stand. The section ends with Caesar exclaiming his support for this idea.

The last section (l. 152-161) consists of Antony's agreement with the marriage and the sealing of the matter with a handshake between the two characters. Each of the men expresses their hopes in this bond in a longer statement.
(18 / 20)

Q 3

Agrippa is a submissive, respectful and dutiful character, whose main interest is the well being of his master and his politics. This can be seen in his figural implicit verbal behavior "Giuve me leaue Caesar" (l. 123). He abides by the rules of conduct, which instruct him, as a follower, to ask for permission to speak. An indication for his loyalty can be found in the figural implicit verbal statement "Pardon what I haue spoke (...) By duty ruminated" (l.144-146). The indirectness with which Agrippa is characterized emphasizes his submissive and dutiful character as a follower.

Caesar is a dominant character, confident in his power and used to giving orders. This is expressed in his figural implicit verbal behavior towards Agrippa (l. 123) and Antony (l. 147). He knows about his power and makes use of it when it suits him, which shows in his figural explicit self-commentary "The power of Caesar, And his power, vnto Octavia" (l. 151-152). Caesar's overt self-characterizations support the fact that he is a very powerful character on stage.

We also find out that Caesar has a sister who he loves. This he expresses in the figural explicit self-commentary "whom no Brother Did euer loue so deerely" (l. 158-159). In this relationship too, Caesar is dominant, which shows in his figural explicit self-commentary "And his power vnto Octavia" (l. 152). The discrepancy between his expressed love for his sister and the fact that he uses her for his purposes, is a figural implicit verbal characterization of a certain amount of selfishness and hunger for power on Caesar's side.

Antony is first characterized by Agrippa in a figural explicit commentary by others in dialog in praesentia, with the words "Great Mark Anthony" (l. 126). As the passage proceeds, however, we see that even though Antony is one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire, Caesar and Antony are not equals anymore. With Caesar's refusal "Not till he heares how Antony is touched" (l. 147) he characterizes Antony, through figural implicit verbal behavior, as someone who has to abide by his rules. These opposite characterizations of Antony, through Agrippa and Caesar, show that Antony is not a straightforward heroic character. He is rather a man with strengths and weaknesses.
(18 / 20)

Q 5

In this scene Agrippa introduces the idea of marriage, in order to mend the strained relationship between Caesar and Antony. This is remarkable, since Agrippa, as a minor character has insight into the situation of the major characters, which goes beyond his official status as a follower.

Two other characters who carry out a similar role in the play are Enobarbus and Charmian. Right before Agrippa's suggestion e.g., Enobarbus advises Antony to make up with Caesar for the time being, in order to be able to deal with Pompey (l. 109-112). Antony, however, too wrapped up in his anger, tells him to be quiet. Charmian repeatedly gives Cleopatra advice, when she sees that her mistress is maneuvering herself into trouble. She e.g. advises her not to use tricks to force Antony to love her (act I, scene 3, l. 7-9). This warning appears in a different light, when one considers, how, by telling Antony that she is dead, Cleopatra causes a tragedy (act IV, scene13, l. 7-10). Charmian, though just a minor character, has a deeper insight into matters than her mistress.

These minor characters are the voices of reason to the major characters who are too wrapped up in their lives and emotions to be able to think rationally. They have the ability to distance themselves from current events, which enables them to make rational and insightful suggestions. In this, they play the rational counter parts to the emotional characters of their masters and mistresses.
(19 / 20)


There are two women of great importance in Shakespeare's play "Antony and Cleopatra" - Cleopatra and Octavia. At first sight they seem to be completely different: Octavia being "of holy, cold and still conversation" (2.6.124f.) and Cleopatra, the passionate, self-centred femme fatale subjecting powerful men to her by seducing them (e.g. 1.1.16ff.; 2.1.22ff.; 2.2.237). Whereas Octavia is obedient (2.3.8), Cleopatra behaves demanding towards Antony (e.g. 1.1.14). While Cleopatra is angry and filled with self-pity, when Antony has to leave her in order to do his job (1.3.25ff.; 1.5.20ff.), Octavia shows appreciation for Antony's duties as a politician (2.3.12ff.). While Cleopatra uses Antony's feelings to direct him according to her aims (4.13.8), Octavia is regarded as a means to an end (2.2.159ff.). But there is a big similarity between these characters: Both women are led by their emotions (e.g. 2.5.61; 3.4.12ff.) and they both cannot exert directly, but need powerful men to do it for them (3.3.5f.; 3.6.88ff.), because the Roman society is a patriarchal system. Both women have different ways of dealing with this system: Octavia has adjusted to the male-dominated society and trusts in men (especially Caesar) to take care of her (3.2.25ff.), however Cleopatra infiltrates the Roman patriarchate by influencing Antony according to her wishes (1.3.77ff.). After Antony's death Cleopatra rather commits suicide than being humiliated by Caesar (4.15.24ff.) and being subjected to his patriarchal political system (4.15.77). One can come to the conclusion that neither Octavia nor Cleopatra can finally prevent to be subjected to the patriarchal system of the Roman society: the only way to escape male predominance is death.


Politics play a very important role throughout the whole plot of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. In this scene, it becomes very obvious that Agrippas suggestion, Caesar’s agreement on that and Anthony’s decision to take Octavia as his wife have one reason: appeasement politics. They are absolutely sure that the marriage will put an end to the discrepancies between Antony and Caesar (cf. ll. 138ff., 152ff., 160ff.). Of course Antony does not love Octavia and everybody is aware of this fact. Caesar even knows about Antony’s relationship to Cleopatra (cf. ll. 127ff.). So apparently, because of his role as one of the triumvirs, Antony is expected to act politically without letting his emotions influence him. But he fails to do so. Before leaving Cleopatra (cf. 1.4), he tells her that he will fulfil her wishes in Rome, be it “peace or war” (cf. 1.3 ll. 67ff.). When he decides to go back to Cleopatra (cf. 3.5) and to fight against Caesar with her, they unite their powers (Cleopatra’s over Egypt and Antony’s over one third of the Roman Empire). But Cleopatra fools Antony as she flees with her fleet during the battle at sea and Antony does the same to his soldiers by following her (cf. 3.10). Nevertheless, he forgives her easily (cf. 3.11 ll. 70-71). But Cleopatra repeats her deed in the last battle at sea (cf. 4.12). These examples make clear that Antony is deeply influenced by his love to Cleopatra. Mostly, His politics are not driven by his role as a triumvir, but by his feelings for the Egyptian queen.