The dueling political ethics of King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra two entirely different political worlds and ecomonies of salvation

“Blow winds, blow/ Blow winds and crack your cheeks,” cries King Lear
in the infamous storm scene that defines the central image of the play,
namely the King’s madness and utter debasement in the nakedness of the
early pre-Christian British wilderness.(3.2) “Where’s my serpent of old
Nile,” intones Cleopatra as she reclines, envisioning her absent Anthony
speaking to her in pre-Christian Egypt.(1.5) Lear summons a cruel storm
that matches his desperate mood.Cleopatra summons in her mind the vision
of Anthony to pass the time while she waits for his return, reclining in
When considering these two images visually, one may be atfirst
surprised that they spring from the mind of the same playwright.The cold
and harsh world of Lear seems to be strikingly different from the Egypt of
Cleopatra.The play “King Lear” depicts a rich monarchy at its onset,
which is slowly and cruelly stripped bare after Lear’s poor leadership in
his dotage leaves his kingdom over to his daughters Regan and Goneril and
their husbands.In contrast, “Anthony and Cleopatra” is structured in a
series of contrasts.For every scene of a regal and cool republican Rome,
a more sensuous, less ordered Egypt appears, demonstrating the two worlds
that tear apart the soul of Anthony.As Lear is eventually stripped bear
of his kingship, his clothing, his shelter, and finally his sanity and the
only child that actually loves him, so Anthony is undone over the course of
his own play.But Lear is undone in a linear fashion, every scene he is
present in, he loses something new.Anthony’s downfall seems to be
programmed from the start, given his two contrasting lives.The only
similarity between the two worlds of “King Lear” and “Anthony and
Cleopatra” seems to be in Lear and Cleopatra’s imaginative capacity to,
respectively, create a storm in the mind that becomes reality, and to


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