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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: April ::
Deaths of Cleopatra and Antony
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0342.  Thursday, 27 April 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <LS0796@ALBNYVMS.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Apr 1995 18:30:56 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0338  Antony and Cleopatra
 
(2)     From:   Christine Couche <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Apr 1995 10:25:38 +0800 (WST)
        Subj:   Re: Cleopatra's suicide
 
(3)     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Apr 1995 13:20:21 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Antony & Cleopatra
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <LS0796@ALBNYVMS.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Apr 1995 18:30:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0338  Antony and Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0338  Antony and Cleopatra
 
To Alistair, in response to Antony and Cleopatra---
 
It's not that "determinism" or questions of "plausibility" should be dismissed,
it's a matter of realizing they can't be reduced to one single motivation. If
people don't want to recognize the apocalyptic and/or playful/comic qualities
to both A & C's deaths (in which Shakespeare can be seen moving away from
conventional tragedy---someone referred to this play as a "problem tragedy"
which seems fitting), the thematic circularity in the play that is announced as
early as Enobarbus's "she has such celerity in dying", then of course we can
see the play deaths as mere "inevitable suicides." Aside from this meta-level
critique of Alistair's position, one could also point out that Cleopatra
announces her intention to die BEFORE the entrance of Dolabella...in fact, she
announces it to Anthony...and, though it's debated (at one point she seems to
be willing to cut a deal with Caesar), she never flinches from this. There's
more, but not now.... Chris Stroffolino
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Couche <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Apr 1995 10:25:38 +0800 (WST)
Subject:        Re: Cleopatra's suicide
 
I must beg to differ with Bill Godshalk that Dolabella was actually sent by
Caesar to encourage Cleopatra's suicide. Caesar clearly wants to keep her alive
for his own purposes (5.1.62-6):
 
      Give her what comforts
The quality of her passion shall require,
Lest, in her greatness, by some mortal stroke
She do defeat us; for her life in Rome
woud be eternal in our triumph
 
As for the mysterious "other employment" at 5.1.71-2, in the New Cambridge
version, David Bevington reminds us that Caesar 'remembered he had sent
Dolabella to bid Antony yield (5.1.1)' (p.241). However, I am grateful for
being made to read this all a bit more closely, because it seems to me this
little section where Caesar asks where Dolabella is, and everyone calls out
'Dolabella," with no response (and perhaps Caesar slapping his forehead as he
says "let him alone, for I remember now") must be quite funny in a good
production (which sadly I have not had the pleasure of). Incidentally, after
seeing the ESC's "War of the Roses" cycle some years ago, I am convinced
Shakespeare has heaps more funny lines in it than we usually get.
 
Sorry Bill, no mystery or exciting new twist here methinks.
 
Regards, Chris Couche
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Apr 1995 13:20:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Antony & Cleopatra
 
In response to Alistair Scott, I admit that I have a mission. I want people to
take Dolabella seriously, and I think that Shakespeare gives us clues, such as,
the end of 5.1 -- where everyone is shouting for Dolabella. Why does
Shakespeare up this in? My answer is: to call attention to the missing
Dolabella, who in the Folio does not exit before Dercetus enters. To account
for Dolabella's strange disappearance, editors have sent him out at line three
and reassigned his later speeches. Unfortunately, that procedure makes nonsense
of Caesar's lines: "Let him alone, for I remember now / How he's employed. He
shall in time be ready" (5.1.71-72).Ready for what? Caesar's last command to
Dolabella was to go to Antony and "bid him yield" (5.1.1 Bevington ed.).
Dercetus has reported that Antony is dead. So what's Dolabella up to?
 
The only answer to that is: what he does in the rest of the play.
 
Now, I realize that I'm the only one (as far as I know) who thinks that
Dolabella does what he does at Caesar's command ("I remember now/How he's
employed"), and, further, that the Variorum editors say something derogatory
about this idea, but if you aren't convinced by my arguments, I haven't been
convinced by the folks who have tried to get me to see the "light."
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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