Summer Shakespeare II

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2019: Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
June 19 - Aug. 14

June 19:
The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare's Sources

June 26:
Coriolanus
Rhetoric

July 3:
NONE

July 10:
The Winter’s Tale
Dramatic Unities

July 17:
Antony and Cleopatra
Characterization and Time

July 24:
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Shared Characters

July 31:
Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3
History and Politics

August 7:
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Theatricality

August 14:
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, talking about some of the company’s notable and recent productions.

Here is the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s page on Antony and Cleopatra, containing information about many performances of this play going back to the early twentieth century.

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