Summer Shakespeare II

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2016: Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
June 15 - Aug. 10

June 15:
The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare's Sources

June 22:
Coriolanus
Rhetoric

June 29:
NONE

July 6:
The Winter’s Tale
Dramatic Unities

July 13:
Antony and Cleopatra
Characterization and Time

July 20:
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Shared Characters

July 27:
Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3
History and Politics

August 3:
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Theatricality

August 10:
All’s Well That Ends Well
The Problem Comedies

Antony and Cleopatra

Things to consider while reading Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra is another of Shakespeare’s Roman tragedies (like Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and Titus Andronicus). As such it takes something of the fabric of ancient history as a sounding board for contemporary ideas and thoughts.

As he did in Julius Caesar, Shakespeare is here working with a reasonably well-established historical narrative, largely preserved for us by Plutarch.

The part of Cleopatra is widely considered to be the best single female role in the whole of the Shakespearean corpus. (By this, I do not mean that she is the best person: she obviously has monumental faults and is a fanatical schemer; rather I mean that she is realized in complex and nuanced dialogue that gives an actress (or, in Shakespeare’s day, a young actor) enormous range for exploration of the part.

Here is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s page on Antony and Cleopatra, containing a brief synopsis of the play and the production history with the company.

Here’s a summary of Antony and Cleopatra on film.


Antony and Cleopatra and what has come before


Shakespeare’s Sources and Other Later Treatments


Themes that emerge in the play (only a few of the many)


Symmetries in the play


Problems in the play