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Free Study Guide-Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare-Book Notes
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SCENE SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

ACT IV, SCENE 12

Summary

As this scene opens, Antony and Scarus are on a hill watching the fighting. Things are not going well. Antony's troops have lost a sea skirmish, and now Caesar's troops are doing well on land as well. Antony leaves to check on the progress of the battle. He shortly returns and informs Scarus that his men have lost the battle. He is convinced that Cleopatra has betrayed him and calls her a "triple-turn'd whore." When Cleopatra enters, he accuses her of being a traitor and tells her to leave. Cleopatra is taken aback at his behavior and asks, "Why is my lord enraged against his love?" Antony, further incensed at this coquetry, continues to rage against Cleopatra. She finally flees, fearing for her life.

Notes

The tide of victory has turned. Caesar has defeated Antony's troops on the sea and is presently fighting well against them on land. Antony, who watches from a good vantage point on a hill, is convinced that Cleopatra has betrayed him, defecting to Caesar and causing the defeat of his own troops. When the queen enters, Antony turns on her and calls her a traitor. She flees from him, fearing for her own safety.


ACT IV, SCENE 13

Summary

Cleopatra is so frightened by Antony's fury that she follows Charmian's advice to hide in her monument, which has been constructed for her tomb. She instructs her servant Mardian to inform Antony that she has killed herself. Then he is to return and tell her about Antony's reaction to the news.

Notes

Once again Cleopatra plots to try and insure the love of Antony, but his time her plotting will backfire. As always, Antony will react rashly to the news of Cleopatra's supposed death, bringing about tragic results for both of the lovers.

ACT IV, SCENE 14

Summary

In this scene Antony philosophically converses with Eros about the differing shapes of clouds and compares himself to their indistinctiveness. He sadly complains about Cleopatra's betrayal, saying she "pack'd cards with Caesar, and false-play'd my glory." Mardian interrupts, informs Antony that Cleopatra has killed herself, and states that the last word she uttered was Antony's name. Totally distraught at the news, Antony resolves to follow Cleopatra's example. He asks Eros to kill him, but he refuses. Instead, Eros takes his own life. Antony then falls on his own sword, wounding himself. Cleopatra's messenger, Diomedes, enters. He states that Cleopatra is alive and fearful that Antony might harm himself. Antony asks to be taken her.

Notes

In this scene Antony gives a number of reasons for his suicide. He has lost the battle and thinks that he has been betrayed by Cleopatra. Then he thinks Cleopatra is dead and considers life unbearable without her. Wanting to escape the humiliation of being paraded through Rome as Caesar's prisoner and hoping to join Cleopatra in the afterlife, he falls on his own sword. When he learns that Cleopatra is still alive, the wounded Antony asks to be taken to her.

ACT IV, SCENE 15

Summary

When Antony is carried to Cleopatra's monument, she is reluctant to open the doors or come down, for she fears that Caesar's army is waiting to take her captive. As a result, she has Antony brought up to her. Cleopatra's reconciliation with Antony before his death is very touching, and after he dies, she faints. Upon regaining consciousness, she wonders why she should remain in this "dull" world which in Antony's absence is "no better than a sty." She vows to give him a proper Roman burial and then follow him in death.

Notes

Cleopatra seems truly grieved over the death of Antony, especially when she says that life is not worth living without him. At the end of the scene, she indicates that she will kill herself, proving her true love for him.

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