Masefield, John. William Shakespeare. Greenwich, CT:
Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. In Hardin Craig,
Masefield (119) asserts that the obsession of love is illustrated in other Shakespearean plays, but in none of them so fully as in Antony and Cleopatra. However, in removing Antony from Cleopatra and marrying him to a Roman patrician of his own culture and class, Masefield (118) believes that Shakespeare was expressing a certain level of disgust with respect to Antony's degradation due to his passion.
Masefield (60) states that "the verse is mainly that of Shakespeare's first personal manner. The prologue is a sonnet; the chorus is a second sonnet; both very clear in their theatrical service." This critic believes that the Friar utters lines of grave and simple charm but the loveliest poetry of the play is given to Romeo: "Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath, hath no power yet upon thy beauty: thou are not conquer'd; beauty's ensign yet is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks, and death's pale flag is not advanced there Shakespeare, in Masefield, 60)."
Editor. Shakespeare. Evanston, IL; Scott Foresman,
What emerges from a comparison of the two plays is that Shakespeare the dramatist working with the familiar stuff of love is also simultaneously Shakespeare the poet, using language to evoke feelings that may not necessarily be rational. Whereas many Shakespearean scholars find Juliet to be one of his greatest female characters, Bloom (546) sees Cleopatra as utterly "inexhaustible" or as created to reflect a woman whose life is lived on a far more public and powerful stage than that of other Shakespearean women.
There is no doubt that William Shakespeare employed poetry to excellent effect in all of his plays (McGuire, 138-139). Both of the plays discussed in this report illustrate the range of Shakespeare's poetry as he handled the complex themes of love, family, and politics and death. The appeal of Romeo