I need a hero (part three: Antony AND Cleopatra)

Tragic hero. This is a concept that I’ve discussed for plays past (and with not a little doubt in Julius Caesar and Troilus and Cressida). The doubt remains here in Antony and Cleopatra.

If we look at the concepts of reversal of fortune, hamartia (or “error in judgment”) and anagnorisis (or realization or revelation about his situation and his position in the world/universe), how do our characters stack up?

[this is the third in a three-part series…part one was on Antony; part two, Cleopatra]

However, what if we take the two characters and place them in parallel trajectories?

Let’s revisit Antony’s aforementioned “weak” statement of anagnorisis. He speaks of his rashness. His error in judgment then might be his decision to agree so quickly to the political marriage to Octavia. His rashness is not seen only here in the play: he decides to battle Octavian on the sea (when his on power is on the land), and upon hearing of Cleopatra’s death, he decides to kill himself quickly–too quickly. Cleopatra knows him, she fears his rashness, sending Diomedes to check on Antony.

I don’t find either Antony or Cleopatra to be satisfactory solo tragic heroes. And while we may not have a tragic duo (both with a shared hamartia or anagnorisis), we do have two separate tragic heroes, on parallel courses to death, each making a related error in judgment when not in the company of the other.

Pretty fitting for a play with a title couple who spends more time apart than together in the play


And just because I can’t let this part go without its own video:

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