Book Notes Act 5, Scene 2 Notes from Antony and Cleopatra

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Antony and Cleopatra Act 5, Scene 2

Cleopatra tells Charmian, Iras, and Mardian that she is beginning to feel better; her impending suicide is better than to be alive. She can take Fate in her hands and subdue it, by ending all things and not living the earthy life anymore that will keep on torturing Caesar.

Proculeius enters with greetings from Caesar, asking what Cleopatra would like from him. Upon hearing his name, Cleopatra tells him that Antony said she could trust him, but she prefers not to trust anyone. She will only beg the biggest things of Caesar, and therefore asks him only for the kingdom of Egypt to be in her son's control. He tells her not to worry, and that Caesar is going to be very kind to her. Several Roman soldiers enter and take her captive, and he quips that she is easily surprised. She draws a dagger to kill herself, but a guard disarms her and Proculeius warns her not to do so, since Caesar would much rather she be alive, so the world will think him noble. Cleopatra vows to starve herself, to ruin her mortal body any way she can, so as not to be Caesar's prisoner. She would much rather die in Egypt.

Dolabella enters, tells Proculeius that Caesar has sent for him, and says he will take charge of Cleopatra. Proculeius exits. Cleopatra tells Dolabella she has heard that he listens to dreams, and she tells him hers: she speaks of Antony, in all his valor and nobility, as if he were a dream that had never existed:

"I dreamt there was an emperor Antony,
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man!"
Act 5, Scene 2, ll. 75-77

She continues speaking of his power, beauty, and love. Dolabella tells her that he truly feels and sympathizes with her grief. She thanks him for his sincerity and asks him what Caesar intends to do with her; he cannot tell her, but leads her to guess that Caesar will display her as a token of triumph.

Topic Tracking: Messengers 7

Proculeius, Caesar, Gallus, Maecenas, and others enter. Caesar tells Cleopatra that if she cooperates, then she will find he treats her most fairly, acknowledging that the crimes she committed against him were not her fault, as she is a woman. However, if she decides to end her life as Antony has, then her children will suffer for that decision. She agrees to give him what he wants, and calls in her treasurer, Seleucus, to tell Caesar that the scroll she gives him contains everything she owns. Seleucus, however, tells Caesar that she has kept things for herself, and she threatens him and curses him for his disloyalty. She admits to Caesar that she kept some things, mostly women's trinkets. She tells Seleucus that if he had been a man, he would have taken pity on her. He exits. Caesar tells Cleopatra that she may keep these things, that he is not concerned with petty trinkets, and leaves her, telling her that he greatly pities and cares for her.

Left alone with Charmian and Iras, Cleopatra whispers to Charmian, and she exits, reappearing shortly with Dolabella. Dolabella tells her that in three days Caesar will send for her and her children, and tells her that he promises to fulfill her request. She thanks him, and he exits.

Cleopatra asks Iras what she thinks. Caesar is to make a laughingstock of them; they are to be displayed in the city for anyone to watch, and Cleopatra thinks that there will be a play made of her story and some boy will play her. Iras says that she would rather scratch out her own eyes than see that happen. Cleopatra calls in Charmian and tells her that she wants to be dressed in her Queen's robes, for she is to meet Antony soon. Charmian and Iras leave, and a guardsman enters, announcing a Clown who brings her a basket of figs. In the basket is an asp, a very poisonous snake which kills painlessly. Cleopatra asks if this is true, and if the Clown has known anyone to die from it. He says he has known many to die, and that she should not trust the worm, nor give it anything. He leaves, and Cleopatra calls in her women. They dress her, and she imagines she sees Antony:

"Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act. I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their
after wrath. Husband, I come!" Act 5, Scene 2, ll. 283-287

Topic Tracking: Honor 7

She kisses Iras goodbye, at which point Iras falls and dies (her death is most likely from heartbreak). Charmian weeps, and Cleopatra calls the asp to bite her breast, then her arm, and she dies. Charmian laments that there was never such a queen as Cleopatra.

A guard enters to announce that Caesar has sent a messenger, but Charmian says he is too late, as she applies the asp to her own arm, and dies. Dolabella enters, and then Caesar, to see all three women dead. Caesar says it was fitting for such a brave and royal woman to take her own life. They try to figure out the method of death, thinking at first it was poison, but then see the bite marks of the asps. Caesar tells Dolabella that she must have done research about the best way to kill herself. He says that she is to be buried next to Antony, not wanting to split up this noble pair in death. After the funeral, which will be solemnly attended by the army, Caesar will go back to Rome.

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