The Tempest, 2.2

Who are Stephano and Trinculo? What kind of performers would you want to cast for these roles?

Stephano is a boisterous butler of King Alonso, who is stranded on the island. Caliban believes Stephano to be a god because he gave him wine to drink, which Caliban claims is not of this earth. Trinculo is a jester who is friends with Stephano and is also stranded on the Island after their boat is ship-wrecked. As such he has free reign to make comments about other people, to amuse and entertain. He’s been shipwrecked-the social order he is accustomed to at court has been fractured. Trinculo arrives on an island and doesn’t know what will happen to him. Trinculo is desperate to please and is not a natural leader. He’s relieved that Stephano plays the role of leader. He’s cowardly, too. He threatens to beat Caliban but he never does, he also needs an audience. Even when Trinculo is alone he talks to himself.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH CALIBAN?

Both Trinculo and Stephno view Caliban as a savage. They both refer to Caliban as a “monster”. Stepheno and Trinculo hold a position of servitude. Stephano a butler and Trinculo a jester. With Caliban they can switch roles. They feel that Caliban is inferior to them because he is a native of the island. The liquor that Stephano gives Caliban to give clouds his judgement and increases his hatred for Propero. With that being said, Caliban is willing to be their servant. Caliban has a master/servant relationship with Stephano and Trinculo. This is seen in particular with Stephano, because he is the one that supplied the liquor. Stephano the boss and Caliban the gullible subordinate.

If this play may be read as an early analysis of colonial presumption, what do we learn about the imperial project from the comparative merits of Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban?

The Tempest can be viewed as a culturally appealing play, especially when observed from a post-colonial perspective. Immediately since the first act, we can categorize Caliban as the unfortunate victim of colonization because of Prospero’s dictatorial actions over the island and its inhabitants.
Stephano and Trinculo could easily be a parody representation of Prospero [ or European Colonists ]. Though they were drunk, which I feel adds a comedic tone to the scene, there is still a disturbing feel to how they treat Caliban even in their humor. They consider themselves as superior to Caliban, labeling him as a “monster” or a lesser human. Stephano states “If I can recover him and keep him tame, I will / not take too much for him; he shall pay for him / that hath him, and that soundly.” Stephano’s lack of respect for Caliban is very evident here, where he considers him as some[thing] tamable. He also thinks he can cure his “ague” or fever by offering him his own liquor. Like European colonists, Stephano thinks he could help this poor and unfortunate creature with an element that is “not earthly.” Trinculo is on the sideline, mocking and poking fun of Caliban’s inebriated state, not taking any care for him.
A further observation of these characters’ colonialist actions is found in Stephano and Trinculo’s goal in the desire to take over the island. “I prithee now, lead the way without any more/ talking. Trinculo, the king and all our company / else being drowned, we will inherit here: here; / bear my bottle: fellow Trinculo, we’ll fill him by and by again.” Like European colonialists, Stephano and Trinculo immediately disregard the island’s native inhabitants, wanting to overtake the land and using it for whatever means they feel necessary. Caliban’s naïveté subjects him to serving Stephano and Trinculo blindly, lacking complete self respect and as well as respect for his homeland. It is no accident that while Stephano and Trinculo follow Caliban off at the end of the scene, exclaims Caliban to be a “brave monster!” Can we say this is an allegorical reference to the “Brave New World”?

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Coriolanus 4.5.1-198

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRneDnm6Lck

1) How is Aufidius’ domestic life a contrast to that of Coriolanus? What does Coriolanus look like when he presents himself at Aufidius’ home?

– In Rome, Coriolanus was viewed as a godly figure to be seen as an idol due to his achievements in war.  He has a loving wife and an encouraging mother in aspects of war and glory.  He draws his motivation from the two women and further fuels it with his rivalry towards Aufidius.  Aufidius in his domestic life in regards to this scene seems to have the pull of the people but is not in as high regards as his counterpart.  This comparison can be shown in regards to how “winners” and “losers” are considered in today’s society (whether its politicians or even sports players) as the “winners” are treated with glory and the “losers” while still backed by their people, have a more tainted view of their standing and accomplishments.  What is ironic about the situation is that Coriolanus is driven to dress in very poor clothing and muffled (as opposed to his normal war gear in which his scars are highly visible as trophies) and he is forced to request an alliance with his rival to rebel against his home country.  The muffling and clothing represent a slight turn in Coriolanus’ character as he is humbled whether by force or choice to fight against those who oppressed him.

2) How are the serving men characterized? How would you compare them to the citizens of Rome?

– As in many Shakespearean plays, these nameless characters are offered as a break from all of the chaos within the plot and provide humor to the common people.  The serving men bear a correlation to the citizens of Rome as they are under the “aristocratic” nature of the two generals and consider them masters.  This simple fact represents that they don’t bear the rank of the higher class men, but they are not afraid to defend their master.  In seeing Coriolanus as a poor-man and an invader, they are not hesitant in trying to deny him entry to their master’s home.  The citizens of Rome and serving men both are people who are influenced by the higher power in the way they act (Roman citizens in fighting for the Republic and in turn against Coriolanus, and the serving men fighting for their master Aufidius).  All in all they represent the common man and offer opinions on how citizens of the time would react.

3) Explain their opinions of the two heroes.

– They feel very disgusted by Coriolanus’ social skills as he is dressed morbidly and interacts with the serving men terribly, but they are instantaneously star struck upon finding out his identity.  It is a symbol that the opinion of this man is god-like due to his prowess in war and that seems to be the benchmark of honor and glory within the contemporary society.  Due to Aufidius’ constant failure in battle (in specific with Coriolanus), he is viewed as a lesser soldier in the views of the serving man and is weaker due to his obstacles in battle.  These opinions of the heroes from the serving men stress the importance of how the characters are judged mainly in terms of battle and war.

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Coriolanus 2.3.1-147

Coriolanus

What opinions do the citizens express as they prepare to hear Coriolanus ask for their votes?

At the start of Act Two Scene Three there are three citizens who express their opinions about Coriolanus and their opinions on him potentially being elected council.  As we learn earlier in the play in order to be council Coriolanus must be voted by the citizens so their opinions on him are very important.  The third citizen is very found of Coriolanus and thinks that if Coriolanus shows the citizens his battle wounds and talks of his accomplishments that its only fair that the citizens accept him as council.    The third citizen also feels that if the other citizens do not accept Coriolanus as council after all he has done for Rome they will look ungrateful and that is a “monstrous” thing to do.   However along with all the praise there seems to be an impression that Coriolanus might not be able to relate to the citizens and this might not make him a worthy council because he does not relate to the citizens.  The third citizen decides that if Coriolanus is able to relate and talk with the other citizens he will be the most qualified person to be council and nobody would be a better council than Coriolanus.

What is a “gown of humility”?

In this scene, Coriolanus exhibits both proud and modest behavior.  He seems both too proud to participate in this ritual, but at the same time doesn’t want to boast about his accomplishments too much.  The “gown of humility” for Coriolanus is an exemplification of both these feelings.  He needs to appeal to these citizens but at the same time not look needy.  The “gown of humility” is Coriolanus’ way conveying modesty towards the citizens while still appealing to them for their votes. Much like today, politicians try to present themselves to the public and appeal to the people.  They dress in suits to convey a certain image to the public, and hopefully earn their votes.

Why is it so hard for Coriolanus to wear this garment and to ask for votes?

As we have seen throughout the play, Coriolanus is an extremely proud character. He likes war and fighting because he believes that it separates the men from the boys; the men fight proudly at war while the boys retreat or stay home like cowards. This explains why he finds the citizens so distasteful. As we learned in Act 1, Scene 9, Coriolanus associates the citizens and government of Rome with lies and pretense. And in Act 2, Scene 2, we get a reinforcement of Coriolanus’ opinion of the citizens as weak and cowardly. As a result, he finds it difficult to don the gown of humility in order to go before these false and cowardly people.

Coriolanus is also not a politcian. Unless the subject is war, he is unable to truly get interested in the topic. Because speaking with citizens is not about war or fighting, he does not feel truly comfortable in that situation. When he goes before the citizens to ask for their votes, he ends up depending on his battle wounds in order to obtain the necessary votes. Other than his achievements in war, he does not have much to offer the people in terms of why they should vote for him.

Coriolanus also seems to be against acting and pretending to be something that he is not. He says, “Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,/ To beg of Hob and Dick that does appear/ Their needless vouches” (2.3.120-122). He refers to the gown of humility as a woolvish toge, which the footnote says is a reference to a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” He does not understand why it should be necessary for him to pretend that he cares for the trivial votes of the citizens in order to gain the consulship. The importance that he places on being genuine goes hand in hand with why he cares so much for war. In a war, everyone is transparent because if one cannot fight, everyone can see it.

What role do the tribunes play in this next sequence of events?

The tribunes try to mobilize the citizens by convincing them that they have just elected someone who does not care for their interests and will not represent them once in power. Both Sicinius and Brutus are opposed to Coriolanus’ election to the Consulship and want to undermine his support among the people. In order to protect themselves politically, they tell the citizens to claim they were convinced by the tribunes to vote for Coriolanus but must now invalidate their votes because they finally came to their senses. The tribunes go out of their way to criticize the citizens in their supposedly stupid choice by calling them “ignorant” and “childish”.

Today, opposition leaders are not shy about vilifying elected leaders and do so in a rather disturbing fashion. “Terrorist”, “Hitler”, and “socialist” were some of the terms used by some Republican politicians to describe then president-elect Barack Obama. At times, however, politicians who don’t want to “get their hands dirty” anonymously leak potentially damaging information about their opponent through the media.

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Hamlet act 5, scene 1

Maria-Hamlet, Carla-Gravedigger 1, Jason-Gravedigger2/Horatio

1. This is the first time we have seen Hamlet since he has been out of Elsinore.  How have his experiences aboard the ship for England changed him?

Hamlet seems more relaxed, reflective. His “mad” act is over. When he was on the ship he uncovers a plot against his life, in the form of a Royal Command from Claudius. He devises a new Royal Command that is death on arrival in England for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead – thanks to his father’s signet that looks like the Danish seal and happened to be in his “purse”. We were hoping for one pirate story. He’s hanging out with Horatio after all. Why did they decide to walk in the graveyard? No mention is ever made of Hamlet’s father’s ghost.

2. How does his conversation with the gravediggers demonstrate these changes?

First, Hamlet has quite a warm-up for Horatio, expounding on all the possibilities of character with each unearthed skull: a politician, a courtier, or perhaps a lawyer:”Where be his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?” He then banters freely with the clown/gravedigger about whose grave is being dug. The clown says it’s his own. Hamlet says,”‘Tis for the dead, not for the quick,” meaning living. “‘Tis a quick lie sir…” says the clown, meaning life is short. Hamlet is back to his more normal self: witty, curious and open.

3. How would you describe the gravediggers’ attitude toward their job?

The gravediggers’ attitude was crafted in a way that would reflect the attitude of death. Like death these two men have no prejudice, completely disregarding the social value of each corpse; may they be man or woman, noble or peasant. They are neutral in their criticism of social law, simply voicing how law is subject to the whims of nobility, standing on no particular ground because they have no social stake in it. As they said themselves, they are the architects for death, not only will their designs last till doomsday, but also the truth in which they speak as well.

4. Why is it helpful for Hamlet to be exposed to their conversation?

It is helpful for Hamlet to be exposed to this conversation because Hamlet was able to see the situation of life and death from a different perspective. Throughout the play so far, Hamlet has been contemplating on revenge, justice, and injustice; but never has he taken a moment of self-reflexivity, everyone but Hamlet has seen how he acts. It is only when Hamlet encounters the gravediggers does he finally see the duality of his nature. The skull of York revives a personal engagement with the nature of remorse. Along with Horatio to compliment the scene, we see the dichotomy of insanity verses the median, as Horatio is not only Hamlet’s best friend, but also the representation of a harmonious life. It is the juxtaposition of life and death, where each figure shares the same lack of prejudice, but on completely opposing spectrums. It is now dependent on Hamlet’s mind and reason to determine how he will progress.

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Hamlet

1. Why have Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrived in Elsinore?

The King and Queen have asked Rosencrantz and Guildernstern to Elsinore so that they can find out the reason for Hamlet’s madness. The Queen is worried about Hamlet and is reacting as a mother. On the other hand, the King is worried about his throne and how Hamlet might have an effect on it. Rosencrantz and Guildernstern have been called by the King to question Hamlet and spy on him. They have been called to serve the King and objecting the King’s request seems to be out of the question.

2. What kind of relationship do they have with Hamlet?

Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Hamlet’s school friends. They have know each other for a while. When Hamlet first sees them, he is very happy that they are at Elsinore. Hamlet gets the impression that his friends have arrived to be with him. We notice that Rosencrantz and Guilderstern care about Hamlet. The first time they see each other in the play they joke around with each other. However, we also notice that Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are thorn between being there for Hamlet as friends, and serving the King’s request to spy on him.

3. How do his feelings about them change?

When Hamlet initially sees Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at Elsinore he is happy that his old friends have come to visit him. He is surprised and pleased to see two familiar friendly faces in a time of such sadness and confusion in his life. As the conversation between the three of them progresses, however, Hamlet begins to wonder what their motives are for arriving there. When Hamlet asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern why they have come, their anxious replies and hesitation to tell him the truth lead Hamlet to conclude that they are no longer friends but spies for the King. The next time Hamlet encounters them he is no longer happy that they are there and treats them as he does his other enemies.

4. What do you think of the way they behave?

Their behavior betrays their cover, and gives away their true intentions to Hamlet. First, they try to act like the good friends he remembers, but their act seems too forced and unnatural. Then, when Hamlet keeps questioning them, their ambiguous and brief replies makes it obvious they are hiding something. Also, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern always take on this role in the middle of things, where they are unsure of whose side they really are on. This is portrayed in their behavior and their words. Right in the opening scene, Guildenstern says that he and Rosencrantz are “happy, in that they are not overhappy” in reply to Hamlet’s greeting. This quote perfectly summarizes their behavior and how they don’t really have a preference to anything, which causes them doubt and anxiety in all they do.

5. Can you distinguish between them as individuals?

It is hard to distinguish between them since they both act the same way and always appear everywhere together, attached at the hip. Even the Queen and King change around the order of their names in the beginning of the second act, which demonstrates how interchangeable they are. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern always need to be around each other because they can’t be their own person. They have the same opinions about everything and make decisions together. When Hamlet interrogates them about the true nature of their visit, they keep looking at one another and asking each other what they should do. A difference between them can perhaps be when Guildenstern finally answers Hamlet, on his own, and tells him the truth of their visit. However, even that was only after exchanging various looks with Rosencrantz. Also, for some reason it is Guildenstern Hamlet chooses to last out in Act 3. This suggests that there maybe some small quality which distinguishes Guildenstern from his other half.

6. Explain the significance of the exchange they have with Hamlet about the recorders.

When Hamlet sees Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the second time and they come as messengers for the King and Queen he is no longer able to see two old friends but only a great betrayal on their friendship. When they come to give him the messages, he starts ‘acting’ again as he does with all others who betray him or spy on him. When Hamlet picks up the recorder and insists that Guildenstern plays it even though he doesn’t know how, Hamlet reassures him sarcastically that he can do it because it is as easy as lying. Hamlet accuses them of trying to “play upon him” as though he was an instrument by lying to him on the king’s behalf and pretending to be his concerned friends. He ends by saying that he is not easier played than a recorder, and so if they cannot play the instrument, they definitely are not capable of playing and fooling him.

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All’s Well That Ends Well, 4.3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oonPOupxgUw

What leads up to this scene?

Right before this scene the First and Second Lords along with Dumaine tell Bertram not to trust Parolles because he’s a loud show off with no experience or loyalty; they decide to prove all this to Bertram by conspiring against Parolles. The lords make Parolles retrieve the drum from the battlefield that was lost and disguise their voices and kidnap him to make him think he’s been taken by the enemy.

What does Parolles experience here?  Why is he subjected to this plot?  How does he handle himself?  What does he learn? 


Parolles is shamed into ruining his own life throughout the play. He is Bertram’s greatest companion but by the end of the scene he is left friendless. He reveals all of his army’s secrets and he can no longer be at Bertram’s side. At the end of the scene Parolles is not hurt by his lost friendship but he just decides that it is time for him to move on. In his speech at the end he declares “There’s place and means for every man alive” and Parolles will search for that place. Parolles loses his ceremonial drum, which is what begins this whole scene. The two Lords Dumaine are attempting to convince Bertram that Parolles is dragging him down. The lords believe that Bertram is following in Parolles’ footsteps and that he is the true reason why he treats Helena so badly. The lords wanted to prove to Bertram that Parolles is not a good fighter like him, but a real coward, so he falls in with the soldiers and reveals everything. Parolles handles himself as any man would. He was scared and he thought if he spoke he would be saved. He wasn’t killed but he is now forced to start fresh.

What is the significance of the juxtaposition of these scenes with the two even-numbered scenes in Act 4? 

The two scenes being juxtaposed show the difference between love and war. The scene before this Bertram is with Diana attempting to woo her and in the following scene it is now Helena and Diana discussing the bedswitch that has occurred. The war also ends in a truce.

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All’s Well That Ends Well

Act 1 Scene 3 of All’s Well That Ends Well: (which for some reason is coming only as a url, and not a video. but i’m working on getting that fixed)

How does it relate to what we learn in this scene about Helen’s role in the Countess’s home and the relationship of the two women?

As an orphan, Helena is cared for by the Countess of Rousillon. The Countess is a very powerful woman and knows that her higher rank enables the Countess to be superior to other people. Although her social status is superior to Helena and the Clown, the Countess does not use this power in a negative way, showing her humanistic personality. When the Countess learns that Helena is in love with her son, she has a nostalgia for her youth. The countess values Helena a lot “[t]here is more owing her than is paid.” (1.3.105). The Countess sees Helena as a daughter, but Helena cannot accept this; they have different social statuses and Helena sees herself more as a daughter-in-law (1.3.158-68).

What is the subject of the Clown’s conversation with the Countess?

The Clown is a character who is unconventional in comparison to other characters in the play. What he says sometimes is a pun, and it usual relates to something sexual. The subject of his conversation with the Countess is to request permission to marry. He states he is merely a servant, but he too wants marriage. When he says “Isbel the woman and I will do as we may” he means it in two ways. He will marry her, and “do her” as in have intercourse with her. The whole conversation is basically about cheating among spouses, intercourse, and the humor the clown finds in these things. The deeper meaning is a reflection of some of those things occurring later on in the play.

Contrast the verbal styles of the Steward and the Clown:  how do they reflect their positions in a noble household?

One difference between the difference speaking styles was contractions. There are a lot of contractions in the clown’s speech, for instance, “Together like any deer i’ the’ herd.” (1.3, 55-56) and “Y’are shallow, madam” (1.3, 42). In the countess’ speech there are very few contractions, she tends to speak with proper, full words. This possibly throws light on their education and upbringing. Naturally, a person’s ability to speak a language properly as opposed to using slang signifies their position on the social hierarchy.

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King Henry IV Part I


What offer is made to Worcester in this scene, and based on his handling of this offer in 5.2, why is this important?

The King offers him and the rest of the rebels a peace offering. Worcester, fearing that he and some of the other leaders of the rebellion would be punished for treason, tells Vernon not to tell Hotspur about the King’s offer. He believes that only Hotspur would be excused, and that his treasonous actions would be attributed to his foolhardiness.

What is the significance of Falstaff being on the battlefield, and what beliefs does he express?

Falstaff represents many negative qualities: dishonesty, deceit, gluttony, greed, moral depravity, etc. When he expresses his views on honor, he describes it as a type of worthless antidote that benefits nobody. It can’t “take away grief”, it “hath no skill in surgery”, and it has as much weight as “air”. To Falstaff, honor is nothing more than a “word”.

How does his soliloquy affect your judgement of Falstaff, and how does it contribute to the patterns of verbal imagery in the play?

Through his soliloquy, Falstaff is revealed as a very philosophical man with his own strong views on what is right and wrong. He doesn’t believe in honor the way others do. Hotspur, Hal, The King, and others are willing to fight to their death over honor, but Falstaff doesn’t believe it’s worth dying for. Honor isn’t valuable to him because it isn’t tangible. Through his point of view, the war must be absurd, as men are willing to sacrifice their lives for something that only the “dead” can acquire. He doesn’t appreciate the idea of honor like the other characters, and his pathetic army is reflective of that. He has no honor, but he doesn’t have any shame either.

What is a catechism?

A catechism is a summary of religious policies often in the form of questions and answers. However with Falstaff, his catechism surrounds not only religious principles, but worldly matters as well when he expresses his view of ‘honor.’

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Antony and Cleopatra 3.6

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/HSYorYi0578" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 

1. What are the events in the east at this time?

Caesar informs Maecenas that Antony has left for Egypt to sit beside Cleopatra and be her king. He is enraged because he has made her absolute queen of lower Syria, Cyprus, and Lydia. He is forming a large alliance to fight Rome, and meanwhile he left Caesar’s sister, Octavia, to sit beside Cleopatra.

2. How does this scene change your view of Antony?

In this scene, Caesar is angry because Antony went to Egypt to be Cleopatra’s King, also making her the Queen of the lands that he conquered, leaving Caesar’s sister and Antony’s wife, Octavia, behind. Despite his betrayal, Antony still requests his portion from the lands that Caesar has conquered. Even though Antony’s love for Cleopatra was obvious from the beginning, it was wrong of him to agree to marry Octavia when he knew who he really wanted to be with all along. Even worse that that he still thinks that he is entitled to Caesar’s land regardless of the fact that he isn’t willing to give Caesar the land that he is owed in return. Also, he is assembling an alliance against Rome and Caesar. This scene really changed my opinion of Antony because of how cruel he can be in both love and war. He has deceived nearly everyone in the play including Cleopatra when he initially left her and married Octavia. I think that Antony should consider the soothsayer’s advice when he was told earlier in the play that he should avoid Caesar because he will be overshadowed. I think that this is foreshadowing for the ensuing battle.

3a.

What values are associated with the Cleopatra through their surroundings? 

 

According to Enobarbus description, Cleaopatra is the ultimate seductress.

She has a perfect combination of skills. She is beautiful, but it is not really her physical beauty what allows her to be so powerful. She is overall a great actress, she knows how to put on a play and  her performance is impeccable.

She is a master at the art of seduction. She plays with all the senses to attract her target.

Visual sense: She dresses and act like she is a goddess, she surround herself with a stuff of great looking servants that adore and admire her. She uses anything possible to enhance the attractiveness of the play.  The exotic perfume everywhere, the music ( probably sensual) , great lighting (sun reflection) there is an audience ( the people in town)  etc. She is the main character and the director of the play. All of this, to other women’s eyes may seen a little cheese or overdone. But to the eyes of men and specially Anthony, Cesar and others this cheese spectacle caught their attention. Her spectacle is based on seductive exuberance, charms, creativity, and innovation. All of these provoke a lot of attention and desire for her. Cleopatra was a person hungry for power. She understood the rules of the game very clearly. She wanted power but, she did not look for it in the same way men do. She knew that the only way to get what she wanted is to use what nature gave her. She was a female and knew how to use her feminine power to attract what she wanted.

She was good looking, smart, ambitious. She used  her looks, charms, sensuality, drama, and emotional desattachment to create an illusion of ideal love. Men of great power like Cesar and Anthony were very busy with wars and constantly being in control. Cleaopatra offered them an escape by taking control and entertain their subjects in a light-hearted and sensual manner. This strategy was intoxicating to them. They always came back to her for more because she was the only one able to awaken men’s libido, self- esteem etc. Unlike the Romans describe her, Cleopatra was not a prostitute. She did not sell sex, she sold the idea of sexual desirability. Once she got the attention she would turn it into her game. This kept her lovers entertained and never got tired of her.

3b. Octavia serves as a foil for Cleopatra. Whereas Cleopatra arrives to greet Anthony on a spectacular float with swarms of people gravitating toward her, Octavia travels so plainly to Rome to meet her brother Caesar that she can be confused for a common market maid. She shows a glimmer of the asceticism that Caesar had so admired in Anthony as a soldier and yet is so displeased by in Antony’s treatment of Octavia. We would identify Octavia with the four classic western virtues of temperance, prudence, courage and justice. She is not at all rash or impertinent like Cleopatra. She does not need to make a show of herself nor is she self-important to a fault. Octavia seems like a dutiful Roman wife. In her values, she embodies everything that the West holds dear.

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Antony and Cleopatra 2.7.56-137

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/30Kbti_r7BY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] 

Who are the sober ones?  Who can hold their liquor?

 
The feast in Act II, sc. vii is celebrating the agreement that took place between the Triumvirs and Pompey. Pompey wanted to go to war to take vengeance on behalf of his father who was defeated by Julius Caesar. But instead, the Triumvirs said they’d give Pompey Sicily and Sardinia, in return for seas that are free of pirates, and they also wanted to receive wheat for Rome; Pompey accepted, and later a feast begins. At this feast the only one who remains sober is Menas, but not because he just wants to abstain from drinking, he has a motive. He presents a plan to Pompey; Menas suggests that the Triumvirs should be killed while they are still drunk, so that Pompey can take over the Western world, but his idea was rejected. After being refused, and almost scolded by Pompey for even bringing up the idea, toward the very end of the scene Menas eventually agrees to have a drink, which was suggested by Enobarbus, here at line 96 he says “Drink thou. Increase the reels” and Menas replies at line 97 saying “Come.” But, this scene doesn’t state when he actually takes that first drink, and he clearly doesn’t show signs of being drunk. But, besides for Menas, everyone else at the party decides to have drinks, but very few were able to hold their liquor. The ones that were able to hold their liquor were Ceasar and Antony; after having drinks they were still able to hold their composure and be aware of their surroundings. In Act 2.7, line100-104 Caesar clearly shows his consciousness when he says “I could well forbear’t. It’s monstrous labor when I wash my brain and it grows fouler.” In that quote he’s saying that he could go without another toast, because the alcohol will make him more confused and stupefied. With Caesar being able to have that sense of what’s going on clearly shows he hasn’t gone over the edge. And with Antony, there is a line that gives a major clue as to what his state of mind is after having had drinks, he says Act 2.7, line 109-111“Come let’s all take hands till that the conquering wine hath stepped our wine in soft and delicate Lethe”. He is revealing to us in that line that he hasn’t yet become soft and delicate, but he isn’t holding back the fact that that’s where he wants to be.
What does Menas propose to Pompey?

In this scene, Menas, one of Pompey’s friends, sees the perfect opportunity for his friend to gain the power that he wants.  While all the triumvirs get drunk, each in their different way, Menas realizes that Pompey has them in the perfect situation, and he proposes to Pompey to kill all of them while they are in their drunken state of mind.  In response to Menas’ idea, Pompey tells him that if Menas would have gone through the plan without telling him, then it would have been a great idea.  But, being that Menas has now told Pompey of his plan, he cannot go through with it, because in Pompey’s words, it is “villainy.” 

What is the nature of the Egyptian crocodile?

The ancient Egyptians worshiped a crocodile-god called Sobek.  Crocodiles were worshiped until the end of the Roman regime.    He was associated with fertility, protection, and the power of the pharaoh.  The crocodile was seen as a protector and a source of power in ancient Egypt.  He is considered to be the god of the Nile which also made crocodiles very sacred to Egyptians as well.  Crocodiles were well respected, often dressed up, fed, worshiped, and covered in jewelry.  It is believed that crocodiles are symbolized as mighty and sovereign as the pharaoh due to their strength and ability to overcome obstacles.

The nature of the Egyptian crocodile in Act II Scene vii is Lepidus talking about crocodiles, describing his to Antony.  He explains how well he treats it and that the crocodile eats “gourmet” meals.

How does this scene encapsulate the political and moral crises introduced in the first half of Shakespeare’s play?

 Pompey acts like the moral character of the group, since he says no to Menas’ plan to dispose of the three triumvirs and establish himself as ruler: “lord of the whole world.”   The only reason Pompey has not to carry out the plot is because Menas gave him advanced knowledge.  If Menas had indeed killed the three rulers and Pompey found out about it after the fact, Pompey would, then, approve.  Later in Act III, sc. v, Caesar has declared war on Pompey and is subsequently imprisoned.  This is the last we hear of Pompey (we learn later that he has been murdered).

 Lepidus is drunk and making a fool out of himself.  Antony, Caesar and Pompey don’t have much respect for him; one of the servants in Act II, sc. vii, remarks that the men have been giving Lepidus “alms-drink.”  The footnotes say that this is “the remains of liquor usually saved for alms-people,” in other words, poor people.  Later, in Act III, sc. ii, Enobarbus and Agrippa are making fun of Lepidus and the way he worships Antony and Caesar.  Both men imply that Lepidus is weak and only full of flattery and praise for the two other, more powerful leaders of the Roman Empire.

 As mentioned above, Caesar joins with Lepidus to declare war against Pompey, only to turn on Lepidus, imprison him and accuse him of treason.  We learn about this from Eros and Enobarbus, who are having conversation.  Eros (one of Antony’s people) says Antony calls Lepidus “a fool.”

 The party scene in Act II, sc. vii is the last time we see Lepidus in power and foreshadows his downfall.  He has been heavily drinking and unable to keep his composure.  Lepidus believes all them men are getting along and is unaware that Caesar is plotting against him.

 This scene also shows the different personalities of Antony and Caesar.  In line 100, Caesar complains he’s drinking too much and doesn’t like the way alcohol makes his head feel.  Antony replies by saying “Be a child o’ th’ time” which means ‘live in the moment.  This sentiment sums up Antony’s attitude:  he allows his passions rule his actions instead of his head.  Caesar is more level-headed and would rather not engage in such extreme drinking.

 The ‘crocodile’ mentioned by Lepidus and Antony is a metaphor for Caesar.  Like the animal, Caesar is calm at the party, watching his surroundings and lying in wait to make his move on his prey.  It is the men at the party whom he ultimately turns against (Pompey, Lepidus and Antony). 

 In Act I, sc. v Cleopatra says that Antony used to call her his “serpent of old Nile.”  In Act II, sc vii, Lepidus asks Antony if they have unusual snakes in Egypt; to which Antony replies yes.  This is a metaphor for Cleopatra, who, as Enobarbus describes in 2.2, is unlike any woman in the world (or any woman who could be found in Rome).  On line 26, Lepidus says to Antony “your serpent of Egypt is bred now of your mud and by the operation of your sun: so is your crocodile.”  Cleopatra is sustained on what Antony gives her (lust and passion), and so is the crocodile (who is Caesar).  I saw this as a veiled warning to Antony.  He should be careful what he’s doing in Alexandria with ‘the serpent of the Nile’ because ‘the crocodile’ (Caesar) is lying in wait and watching.

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