It's certainly not original to say that nothing happens in Renaissance tragedies. The play doesn't simply start in medias res, it starts at the climax, assuming you know all the preceding action, it is only interested in the emotions of the most charged moment. Cleopâtre captive is no exception, dealing almost exclusively with Cleopatra's suicide, which is not even shown, simply discussed. Rather than looking at the plot, I think it is more interesting to analyze the surprisingly experimental nature of the poetry. Truly, the play reads more like a collection of poetry on a particular theme than it does like a play. Jodelle moves between line length and style fluidly, playing with the tempo and rhyme scheme in every act. He uses repetition and the rhythm of the line to build tension rather than rising action. While this makes the play slightly boring for a modern audience, scholars of poetry will find no end to analysis and discussions to be had about the daring innovations of poetry in this play.
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M.A. French Literature Florida State University