Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for “Antony and Cleopatra” by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes in “Antony and Cleopatra” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot of “Antony and Cleopatra” or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Anthony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay. Before you begin, however, please get some useful tips and hints about how to use PaperStarter.com in the brief User's Guide…you'll be glad you did.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: Love and Obsession in Antony and Cleopatra
In William Shakespeare’s rendition of the love affair between Antony and Cleopatra, both love and obsession play large roles in the plot, although at times the difference between the two becomes muddled. While Antony believes that he loves Cleopatra, it is true that he may only be obsessed with her beauty and charm. Likewise, while Cleopatra pretends to love Antony, it is obvious that the only person she truly cares for is herself. The only person in this play who seems to exhibit true love is Enobarbus, who is extraordinarily devoted to Antony. He leaves Antony at the end, when he sees that Antony has been irreversibly blinded by Cleopatra, however, when Antony sends a farewell gift to Enobarbus in Caesar’s camp, Enobarbus realizes what he has done, and dies from a broken heart. What can be said then, from these instances, about romantic love, versus true platonic love? Is a friendship stronger than a love affair?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Duty and Honor in Antony and Cleopatra
As much of Antony and Cleopatra takes place during a time of unrest for the empire, it seems obvious that duty and honor play a big role throughout the production. Octavius accuses Antony of shirking his duties to spend time with Cleopatra, and for not caring about the fate of the Roman Empire. After the crisis with Pompey is averted, one of his men approaches him and tells him that he could rule the world if only he would kill the triumvirate, however Pompey takes that as an offense to his honor. It seems, however, that Octavius has no sense of honor, as he breaches the truce with Pompey and arrests Ledipus before attacking Antony. Who do you think has the biggest sense of honor and obligation throughout this play? Is there an reason why those who betray that duty should be forgiven?
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: Betrayal in Antony and Cleopatra
Betrayal is a theme that occurs quite frequently in Antony and Cleopatra. While Antony defects to the Egyptian camp, and allows Cleopatra to pilot a boat, she turns from the battle after awhile, whether from fear or for the possibility of victory on Caesar’s side. In that action, Cleopatra betrays Antony’s confidence in her, and his victory in the battle, as he flees after her. Octavius also plays a large role as a betrayer, by breaking his truce with Pompey and imprisoning Ledipus. It seems as if there is betrayal is abounding in every relationship. What can be said about the validity of promises in this story? Do you think that Shakespeare is making a point that people in power cannot be trusted, no matter how honest they seem
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: The Role of Selfishness in Antony and Cleopatra
Throughout Shakespeare’s recounting of Antony and Cleopatra, the title characters seem to be the most selfish of the cast. Antony throws away his duty to his country for a woman he is obsessed with, and puts himself and his soldiers at risk for her, multiple times. However, Cleopatra is really the one who is guilty in this situation. She continues her affair with Antony, despite the fact that he has a wife in Rome, and when she gets news that his wife has died, she only thinks of herself and what this means for their relationship. She even goes so far as to have word sent to Antony that she has killed herself, in an attempt to win back his affections; with no thought of the effect the words would have on his heart. Do you think that selfishness is the cause of the majority of the issues throughout this play? What do you think Shakespeare is saying about selfishness and true love, based on the relationships within the text?
This list of important quotations from “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from “Antony and Cleopatra” by Shakespeare listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements for Shakespeare's “Anthony and Cleopatra” above, these quotes alone with page numbers can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way.
“the bellows and the fan / to cool a gipsy’s lust” (I.i.11-12)
“Take but good note, and you shall see in him The triple pillar of the world transform’d Into a strumpet’s fool; behold and see.” (I.i.14-16)
“Now, for the love of Love and her soft hours, Let’s not confound the time with conference harsh: There’s not a minute of our lives should stretch Without some pleasure now. (I.i.52-55)
“He was dispos’d to mirth; but on the sudden / A Roman thought hath struck him” (I.ii.58-59)
“Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty times upon far poorer moment. I do think there is mettle in death which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying (I.ii.120)
“I’ the market-place, on a tribunal1 silver’d, Cleopatra and himself in chairs of gold Were publicly enthron’d; at the feet sat Cæsarion, whom they call my father’s son, And all the unlawful issue that their lust Since then hath made between them. Unto her He gave the ’stablishment of Egypt; made her Of Lower Syria, Cyprus, Lydia, Absolute queen. (III.vi.5-13)
“This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me: My fleet hath yielded to the foe; and yonder They cast their caps up and carouse together Like friends long lost. Triple-turn’d whore! . . . (IV.i.31-34)
“mechanic slaves With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall Uplift us to the view; in their thick breaths, Rank of gross diet, shall be enclouded, And forc’d to drink their vapour. (V.ii.254-258)
“saucy lictors Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rimers Ballad us out o’ tune: the quick comedians
Extemporally will stage us, and present Our Alexandrian revels. Antony Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness I’ the posture of a whore. (V.ii.260-267)
“No grave upon the earth shall clip in it / A pair so famous. . . .” (V.ii.418)
Source : Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. 1. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997.