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Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 3

  • Date Submitted: 10/06/2015 05:13 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59.2 
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Q. What are the likely thoughts and feelings of an audience as this scene unfolds?

This scene gives the audience a variety of viewpoints into the character of Antony, which enables us to recognize the complexity of his character as projected by the writer.

The scene opens up in a discussion between Antony and Octavia. We see him put his duties to Rome before affection, passion and love. This is a different side of Antony as compared to the one portrayed earlier when he was in Egypt. His speech was short and formal as shown by the use “square” and “rule” which is contrasted to his previous language, which he used as he neglected his duties for Cleopatra’s sake: “Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall.” We come to realize that this side of Antony is more fitting to the situation because that’s how he should be in the presence of Caesar and Octavia.

The writer is implying that Antony is aware of his inner struggle, which keeps surfacing. The author presents this struggle in his reassurance to Octavia. This marriage was just a means of securing his power, he did not actually care for Octavia. Antony is seen trying to be the an emperor who is larger than life when he refers to “the world and my great office.” On the other hand he also tells Octavia not to believe his “blemishes in the world’s report.” Through this the writer indicates the fact that Antony is concerned about his reputation. It also goes to show that he views his love for Cleopatra as a weakness. Antony is trying to prove himself as a staunch Roman, bringing out an element of sincerity. Antony is being true to himself and this is how his conflict comes out.

We notice Antony trying too hard. He marries Octavia in order to get the throne and achieve his “peace”, despite his affection towards Cleopatra. He goes out of the way to fix his reputation and to ensure Octavia would play along. The way he conveys his self-image to Octavia, one can say that was portraying...


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