John Dryden's Presentation of Cleopatra

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All for Love, or the World Well Lost (1677) is John Dryden's depiction of the tragic love story of Antony, a Roman general from the 2nd Triumvirate, and the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. The famous affair that sealed the fall of Egypt into Rome's mighty hands has been the subject of many dramatizations and thus, the work is often compared to Shakepeare's and other writers' renditions of the ill-fated romance.


The play which consists of five acts represents a turning point in John Dryden's career as a playwright and (esteemed) dramatist. This artistic piece is impressive in creating genuine emotion and dramatic tension within the rigorous strictures of the neoclassical theatre. Here, the unities of time, place, and action are strictly observed, but the story loses none of its power as a result (Byrne, 2004). Unlike other plays that revolve around the same love story, Dryden's setting is restricted to the Temple of Isis in Alexandria during the time when Antony's rival, Octavius Caesar, is on his unopposed advances toward Egypt. Depictions of naval powers, Rome's increasing empire and the rich Roman culture are all lacking in the play. However, the constraints on the play's setting are overcame by the emotional depth of the drama and the well-developed interactions among the characters. ...
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