Like the name suggest ‘All for Love’, the play is about Antony and Cleopatra’s love that has become the thorn in many eyes. This is basically, a play that has ‘Love’ as its motif. The love between Antony and Cleopatra has become a thorn in everybody’s eyes. Both are lamenting their separation. While on one hand, Ventidius tries to convince Antony to leave Cleopatra and lead the troop that has to fight with Caesar and he almost succeeds. Cleopatra on the other hand tries her best to win Antony back. Finally, both the lovers find their ways of death and die lamenting for each other.
ACT WISE INTERPRETATION OF THE PLAY
The play takes place when a few citizens of Egypt are discussing something on precise matter (Egypt’s impending doom), meanwhile, Serapion tells them about some strange and unnatural incidents that he has witnessed last night. Those incidents have left him spell bounded, hence he decides to discuss about it with his friends.
Just when Serapion is narrating his story, Alexas, the eunuch, who works in the court of Queen, Cleopatra comes and scolds Serapion for building up stories and warns him not to repeat it again as Alexas thinks that these incidents are nothing but Serapion’s cooked imagination. Amidst all these things, Ventidius, a Roman knight comes in. Alexas quickly recognizes him and scoffs all the citizens about Ventidius telling them that he hates him but the fact that Ventidius is one of the bravest Romans cannot be ignored at any cost. As Alexas sees Ventidius approaching to him, he announces that Egypt will celebrate Antony’s birthday with great pomp and show. Ventidius is displeased with the Alexas announcement as Antony’s life is in danger and Egyptians are celebrating his suffering.
Ventidius reaches Alexas and mocks Cleopatra saying that “she has quite unmanned him (Antony)”. According to King Ventidius, Antony was a brave soldier but Cleopatra has made Antony useless and he has lost all his virtue after falling in the false love of Cleopatra.
Ventidius asks about Antony to Alexas and he is said that Antony is depressed. In fact, his depression has reached an extent where he hasn’t eaten anything for days. King Ventudius being a close friend and well-wisher of Antony decides to meet him and goes in.
Antony, like any other depressed man, first repels but when he Ventidius weeps in misery, Antony’s heart fills with sorry and pity for his friend and both the friends reconcile each other. Ventidius is also ready to give Antony the privilege of leading the troops only in one condition if Antony wills to leave Cleopatra. He asks Antony to accompany him to River Nile where nearly 10,000 brave soldiers are waiting for him so that Antony can command them to fight against Caesar. Antony first denies his proposal but at last, agrees to quit Egypt. Ventidius talks bad about Cleopatra saying that she has ruined his life. Antony doesn’t like words against Cleopatra and asks him to prevent such statements. However, he agrees to leave her for the sake of honour.
Meanwhile, Alexas informs Cleopatra about the discussion between Antony and Ventidius. Cleopatra becomes hurt and sorrowful. While Charmion enters amid Cleopatra and Alexas conversation and tells about the present scenario.
Cleopatra interrogates him about the behaviour of Antony. Charmion assures Cleopatra that Antony is as dejected as she is. Alexas then tells Cleopatra a plan by which Antony will probably change his mind. Meanwhile, Antony and Ventidius who have now agreed upon being together and fighting against Caesar ridicule and laugh at the cowardice of Octavius Ceasar. While the both friends are still talking, Alexas enters and tells Antony that Cleopatra has prayed for his (Antony’s) safety and has also sent some gifts as a token of her love for Antony.
Saying this he distributes bracelets to the soldiers. Ventidius calling them “poisoned gifts” rejects them and says, “I’m not ashamed of honest poverty, nor all the diamonds of the east can bribe Ventidius from his faith.”
Antony accepts the gift sent by her beloved, despite of getting mocked by Ventudius though Antony is unable to wear her gift. Cleopatra enters. Antony relentlessly starts blaming Cleopatra putting allegations like his (Antony’s) the first wife died and he left Octavia (his 2nd wife; the sister of Octavius Caesar) and because of it, Caesar has waged war against him.
He also reminds her of the last battle in which she left him alone on the battlefield and she ran away. He also tells her that she was the mistress of Julius Caesar and still he accepted her. Cleopatra, in her defence, says that though she has given her body to Caesar, her soul still belongs to her beloved lover Antony. Cleopatra also shows Antony a message that Antony recognises that is the writing of Octavius Caesar.
Antony reads the message and comes to know that Caesar had offered Cleopatra her full safety if she would have handed over Antony to him. Antony melts. Alexas exclaims, “He melts, we conquer.” Antony and Cleopatra are now reconciled.
Ventidius, being annoyed and helpless, goes away saying, “O women! Women! All the gods have not such power of doing good to man, as you of doing harm.”
Saying this he distributes bracelets to the soldiers. Ventidius calling them “poisoned gifts” rejects them and says, “I’m not ashamed of honest poverty, nor all the diamonds of the east can bribe Ventidius from his faith.” Antony, despite Ventidius’s disapproval, accepts the gift but is unable to wear it. Cleopatra enters.
Antony starts blaming her as because of her, his first wife died and he left Octavia (his 2nd wife; the sister of Octavius Caesar) and because of it, Caesar has waged war against him.
He also reminds her of the last battle in which she left him alone on the battlefield and she ran away. He also tells her that she was the mistress of Julius Caesar and still he accepted her. Cleopatra, to defend herself first tells him that though she had given her body to Julius Caesar, she gave her soul to Antony and also shows a page to him on which a message is written which Antony recognizes as the writing of Octavius Caesar. Antony reads the message and comes to know that Caesar had offered Cleopatra her full safety if she would have handed over Antony to him. Antony melts.
Alexas exclaims, “He melts, we conquer.” Antony and Cleopatra are reconciled. Ventidius, being annoyed and helpless, goes away saying, “O women! Women! All the gods have not such power of doing good to man, as you of doing harm.”
Antony persuades Dolabella to bid his goodbye to Cleopatra as he lacks the courage to do so. Dolabella refuses but when Antony insists, he agrees at last. Dolabella while going to Cleopatra thinks of deceiving his friend by proposing Cleopatra. Meanwhile, Alexas persuades Cleopatra to show Antony that she loves Dolabella and out of jealousy, Antony will return back to her. Dolabella enters and tells falsely to Cleopatra that Antony has talked badly of her.
She faints. Dolabella repents over his lie and tells Cleopatra the truth and Cleopatra also tells him the real motive of showing sympathy to him (to make Antony jealous).
Ventidius and Octavia hearing some part of their discussion assume that they (Cleopatra and Dolabella) have fallen in love with each other and meeting Antony inform him about it. Antony does not believe them. Ventidius in order to prove his statement brings Alexas, who gives his consent to Ventidius and Octavia. Antony is quite enraged. A little later, Dolabella and Cleopatra enter, who are unaware of the situation. Antony blames both of them for being deceitful. They protest but Antony dominates. Both go away sorrowfully.
Cleopatra blames Alexas for bringing her to such a situation and orders her to resolve the matter by himself. On the advice of Serapion, she goes to her castle to remain safe. Alexas makes a plan to save his life. He goes to Antony and tells him that Cleopatra has committed suicide. Antony recognizes the innocence of Cleopatra and considers the world and the kingdom to be useless for him without her.
He asks Ventidius to kill him. But Ventidius instead kills himself. Antony hits himself with his sword and is badly wounded but not yet dead. Meanwhile, Cleopatra becomes aware of the words spoken by Alexas to Antony and rushes to Antony. Both reconcile. Antony dies in her lap. A little later Cleopatra dies in the arms of Antony by making a snake to bite her. Egypt is conquered by Caesar.