Antony and Cleopatra: soliloquies

UPDATED 10/15/16 10:45pm PST…see below

UPDATED 9:30pm PST…see below

OK, so I’m looking at the speeches in Antony and Cleopatra, and I’m noticing a notable lack of soliloquies…

No major soliloquies, and only six that technically meet the standard:

  • Mark Antony, I.ii.121-129: “There’s a great spirit gone! …”
    His statements between the exit of the messenger who brought news of Fulvia’s death and Enobarbus’ entrance, during which he admits desiring the news, the need for him to leave Cleopatra, and the “harms…[his] idleness doth hatch”
  • Mark Antony, II.iii.31-39: “He shall to Parthia…”
    His statements between the exit of the soothsayer and the entrance of Ventidius, during which he acknowledges that the marriage is for political peace, but that Egypt is where his “pleasure lies”
  • Enobarbus, III.xiii.195-201: “Now he’ll outstare the lightning…”
    Following Cleopatra and Antony’s post-Thidias reconciliation, the lieutenant states he sees that a lessening in Antony’s mind has “restore[d] his heart,” and that Enobarbus must “seek // Some way to leave” Antony
  • Enobarbus, “I am alone the villain of the earth…”
    After he has been told that Antony has sent after him his treasure (despite his abandonment of Antony), Enobarbus proclaims his shame and his goal to “seek // Some ditch wherein to die”
  • Mark Antony, IV.xii.39-49: “‘Tis well thou’rt gone…”
    After he has chased off Cleopatra in anger, he speaks of his fury and his hopes for her death
  • Mark Antony, IV.xiv.44-54: “I will o’ertake thee, Cleopatra…”
    Upon hearing (the faked) news of Cleopatra’s death, Antony states his intention to kill himself and join her.

Not a single speech a dozen lines or more in length (in comparison, in the other Roman play, Julius Caesar, Brutus’ “It must be by his death” soliloquy runs 25 lines, Antony’s “thou bleeding piece of earth” speech, 23 lines…though there’s not a single soliloquy in the last half of the play… I’d like to say this lack is a kind of nod to “Roman stoicism” but if that were the case then the following wouldn’t be true…).

Not a single speech by Cleopatra.

Cleopatra gets no soliloquy.


I’ve a hunch, and I hope I’m right (more on that soon…I promise), because the alternative is evidence of a pretty dismal view of women in the play.



OK, I’ve found another soliloquy (two actually): again NOT Cleopatra. Scarus then Antony again, in Act Four, Scene Twelve. Antony and Scarus enter the stage, Antony leaves the stage and Scarus has seven-line speech beginning in the second half of line 3:

  • Scarus, IV.xii.3-9-54: “Swallows have built…”
    He plays the part of Captain Exposition, letting us know that Cleopatra’s navy is stopped by lack of wind, her augurors presage only bad outcomes, and Antony has been mood-swinging from hope to despair and back again

Antony re-enters before line 10. Scarus leaves at the end of line 17, and Antony is alone on stage for a 14-line soliloquy:

  • Mark Antony, IV.xii.17-30: “O sun, thy uprise I will see no more…”
    in which he rails against what he sees as Cleopatra’s betrayal, and says the fates have sided with Caesar, and Antony will not survive the night to see the sun rise again.

This Scarus soliloquy throws a spanner in the works of my theory… which I will share later.


UPDATE 10/15/16 10:45pm PST
OK, while looking at the use of expository speeches in the play, I came across another soliloquy:
Enobarbus in Act Four, Scene Six (just a handful of lines before the Enobarbus soliloquy “I am alone the villain of the earth…” []): delivering to the audience military updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *