You are not currently logged in.
Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Shakespeare's Boy Cleopatra, the Decorum of Nature, and the Golden World of Poetry
Vol. 87, No. 2 (Mar., 1972), pp. 201-212
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/460877
Page Count: 12
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Theater, Theater criticism, Suicide, Nature, Wordplay, Audiences, Poetry, Spectacle, Rationalism, Queens
Were these topics helpful?See something inaccurate? Let us know!
Select the topics that are inaccurate.
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
The sexual ambiguity of Shakespeare's boy Cleopatra embodies the clash between two poetic theories-the theory that poetry imitates Nature and is therefore subject to rules of decorum and verisimilitude and the theory that poetry creates a new, "golden" world to which the truth-criteria for extrapoetic experience do not apply. Both theories were prevalent in Shakespeare's time, as we see in Sidney's Apology for Poetry; and both persist today, as we see in modern controversies about the play. Shakespeare's dramatic strategy in Antony and Cleopatra involves the interplay between these two notions of poetry and poetic truth: the first is associated with the Roman viewpoint and the kinds of dramatic evidence that support it, the second with the Egyptian viewpoint and the kinds of poetic and dramatic evidence that support it. Only by studying the play with both theories in mind can we approach its structural and thematic center and see that its problematic features-Cleopatra's enigmatic character and motivation, Antony's ambiguous stature as a tragic hero, and the eccentric structure are-like the boy Cleopatra, necessary components of its dramatic strategy, functional embodiments of its themes.
PMLA © 1972 Modern Language Association