CLASSIC FICTION (PRE C 1945). Hugely ambitious in its historical focus and vast geographical scope, Antony and Cleopatra is one of Shakespeare's most astonishing tragedies. The drama centres on the relationships between his main protagonists, Octavius Ceasar, Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the highly charged affair between Mark Antony and the Egyptian queen that forms the backdrop to the pervading theme of struggle between East and West throughout the play. The internal battle of personal emotion and duty that Antony experiences, and the dynamics of power and sexuality portrayed by Cleopatra, give the play its dramatic tension. Rich and complex in its language and poetic in tone, Shakespeare shows how the politics of Rome ultimately cause disaster for a man who is torn between reason and passion.