Betrayal and Love in All for Love and Bérénice

by Robert W. McHenry, Jr.
Betrayal and Love in All for Love and Bérénice
Robert W. McHenry, Jr.
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
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SEL 31 (1991) 15SN 0039-3657

Betrayal and Love in All for Love and Bkrknice


Attempts to determine Dryden's sources for All for Love have been accompanied by treacherous complexities. For example, though comparing All for Love and Antony and Cleopatra can lead to some revealing distinctions, critics have found it easy to exaggerate Dryden's debt to Shakespeare's play.' In fact, Dryden constructs his plot in a completely different way, takes a wholly different view of the character of Cleopatra, ignores most of Shakespeare's other characters, and introduces his own. Even his blank verse, in which he professes to imitate Shakespeare generally, remains distinctively in his own style, as numerous comparisons of the few parallel passages have demonstrated.2 Beyond maintaining the essentials of the story found in Plutarch, Dryden looked beyond Shakespeare to create his own version of Antony and Cleopatra in their final day. One of the essential sources was Racine's Btrkni~e.~

In All for Love, whose "tableaux" have been aptly described as "the nearest approach of English drama to the statuesque of Ra~ine,"~

Dryden went considerably beyond merely adopting the highly unified, static form of Racinian tragedy. Indeed, he has conceived much of his tragedy's conclusion to focus upon the hero's resolution of a problem that Racine also explored masterfully in Bkrtnice, that of the corrosive effects of the fear of betrayal. As in Racine's tragedy, much of Dryden's central action depends upon the raising and exploring of the central character's feelings of betrayal. As a result, the final act of All for Love, which represents one of Dryden's best and most distinctive contributions to the dramatic history of Antony and Cleopatra, also is the result of his play's closest and most significant connections to Racine's Btrknice.

Robert W. McHenry, Jr. is Professor of English at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; he is the editor of Contexts 3: Absalom and Achitophel (1986)and currently is working on a life of Roger North.

Though scholars have established beyond question that Racine's Btrtnice influenced Dryden when he wrote All for Love, they have underestimated the implications of the many verbal and situational parallels between the two plays. At one extreme, F.T. Prince condemns All for Love as "a crude debasement of both Shakespeare and Racine," and S. Klima concludes, less vehemently, that Dryden's borrowings resulted in an "eclecticism [that] is neither Shakespeare nor Racine, but something sui generis, although less than either of the two models." Most critics concentrate on the differences between Dryden and his French contemporaries. Selma Assir Zebouni, for example, devotes thirteen pages to an analysis of Btrtnice in Dryden: a Study in Heroic Characterization, but concludes only that Btrtnice represents "a world altogether different" from the plays of Dryden and C~rneille.~

While it is true that Racine is a much greater dramatist than Dryden, the notion that he had little real influence on Dryden is false. Nor is it accurate to dismiss All for Love as a mere pastiche of passages from other writers. I believe that we must continue the inquiry into why Dryden used his sources as he did. By examining the parallels with Btrtnice more fully, we can come closer to an accurate definition of the relationship between the two plays and of the nature of this very distinctive drama of Dryden's.

The parallels suggest that Dryden found elements in Btrknice which gave rise to his distinctive conception of the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra. These similar passages include a number of intriguing verbal echoes, which are significant for their psycho- logical focus on love and betrayal. For example, in the first two acts of Racine's tragedy, BkrCnice is filled with anxiety at Titus's coldness. Desperately seeking a reassuring reason for his behavior, she tries to convince herself that he is merely jealous of his old friend Antiochus, who has just declared his love to her. Buoyed by this thought, since she is sure that she can clear up such a misunderstanding, she indulges in a fantasy of reconciliation in which she plays the role of the faithful, magnanimous lover:

Je ne te vante point cette faible victoire,
Titus. Ah! plQt au ciel que sans blesser ta gloire
Un rival plus puissant voulQt tenter ma foi,
Et pQt mettre imes pieds plus d'empires que toi;
Que de sceptres sans nombre il pQt payer ma flamme,
Que ton amour n'eOt rien a donner que ton 2me:
C'est alors, cher Titus, qu'aimk, victorieux,
Tu verrais de quel prix ton coeur est a mes yeux.

(P 508)

I shall not vaunt this easy victory,
Titus. Would that, without offence to you,
A mightier rival still would tempt my troth
And place more empires at my feet than you,
And with unnumbered sceptres seek my love;
That you had nought to offer but your soul!
Then, my dear Titus, loved, victorious,
You'd see what price I put upon your heart.

(p 252)'j

Dryden, who made his Cleopatra similar to Berenice in her loving faithfulness, echoes these lines when Cleopatra tells Antony of her constancy. She was "constrained" by Caesar's love, but always loved only Antony.

How often have I wish'd some other Caesar,
Great as the first, and as the second young,
Would court my Love to be refus'd for you!


Both plays also concentrate, in their early scenes, on the plight of lovers forced to part by duties which overwhelm their private feelings. Racine makes it clear that, until Titus became Emperor and realized that he would have to give up Berenice, their relationship had been idyllic:

Depuis cinq ans entiers chaque jour je la vois, Et crois toujours la voir pour la premikre fois. (P 504)

For five long years I've seen her every day, And every time is splendid like the first. (P 247)

Dryden also makes the love of Antony and Cleopatra seem perfect and chooses similar words for Antony when he (like Titus) tries to reassure his lover as he attempts to leave her.

I saw you ev'ry day, and all the day;
And ev'ry day was still but as the first:
So eager was I still to see you more.


In the central scenes of his play, Racine concentrates on a subtle and complex account of Berenice's feelings of betrayal as she comes to realize that Titus has decided to ask her to leave Rome. Her deepest fear is the suspicion that Titus's professions of love had always been false. "Hklas!" she cries, "je me suis crue aimke"

(p. 523) ("1 thought that I was beloved" [p. 2691).She recoils at the thought that she has loved him too openly and has allowed herself to be publicly betrayed. When he continues to insist upon his decision, she bursts out in a rage against his faithlessness, spitefully declaring that he will probably be eager to see her leave, while she will continue to grieve:

Mais quelle est mon erreur, et que de soins perdus!
L'ingrat, de mon dkpart console par avance,
Daignera-t-il compter les jours de mon absence?
Ces jours si longs pour moi lui sembleront trop courts.

(P 524)

But how deceived I aml What labour lost!
Consoled of my departure in advance,
Will you even deign to count the days I'm gone?
These days, too long for me, you'll find too short.

(pp. 270-71)

Dryden's Cleopatra, though she lacks Bkrknice's intensity and complexity, reacts similarly when Antony announces his departure.

Go; leave me, Soldier; (For you're no more a Lover:) leave me dying: Push me all pale and panting from your bosome, And, when your March begins, let one run after, Breathless almost for Joy, and cry, She's dead! The Souldiers shout; you then perhaps may sigh, And muster all your Roman Gravity: Ventidius chides; and strait your Brow cleares up, As I had never been.


While Cleopatra's speech is more direct and satirical than Berenice's words to Titus, the two reactions are close in content and motive.

Far from being fragments in a pastische, these parallels consist- ently contribute to Dryden's concentration on the passions associ- ated with a perceived betrayal, which becomes the central psych- ological element in the play. However, despite the parallel nature of the two plots and the similarities in character between Bkrknice and Cleopatra, the character whom Dryden conceives as the closest to BCrknice is not Cleopatra. In the passionate struggle with the fear and anger of betrayal, the figure who most resembles Racine's heroine is Antony.

Of course, there is likely to be a motif of betrayal associated with Antony in any version of the story of these famous lovers. Thus, as a means of defining the distinctive contribution of Btrtnice to Dryden's design in All for Love, it is helpful to compare the very different handling of this theme in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Shakespeare, often following Plutarch, makes Antony unsuspicious and open. He can rage when he thinks himself betrayed, but his anger passes quickly. When, for example, the Egyptian galleys go over to Caesar's side and join his armada against Alexandria, Plutarch writes that Antony "retired into the city, crying out that Cleopatra had betrayed him to the enemies he had made for her sake."8 Shakespeare's Antony also rails against "this foul Egyptian":

Betray'd I am.

0 this false soul of Egypt! this grave charm,

Whose eye beck'd forth my wars, and call'd them home;

Whose bosom was my crownet, my chief end,

Like a right gipsy, hath at fast and loose

Beguil'd me, to the very heart of loss.


Characteristically, his rage is simple, direct, and focused only upon her. It lasts only until he hears of her death; then he immediately resolves to join her and "Weep for my pardon" (IV.xiv.45). Earlier, Shakespeare gives Antony another moment of jealousy and wrath when Cleopatra seems to encourage Thidius, the messenger from Caesar, but here also his anger at Cleopatra dies quickly in the face of her confident assertion of loyalty. Shakespeare's Antony is generous and not given to introspective doubts. As A.C. Bradley declares, even though Antony knows that Cleopatra is "capable of betraying him," his anger against her is transitory; "One tear, one kiss, outweighs his ruin." lo

Shakespeare's main treatment of the theme of betrayal comes, not in the relationship between the lovers (as it does in Racine and Dryden), but in the account of Enobarbus's decision to leave Antony. However, the play focuses very little on Antony's feelings of betrayal, but concentrates memorably on Enobarbus's sense of guilt. While Antony has been hurt by Enobarbus's departure, his words convey self-reproach rather than resentment. Antony has no impulse to question Enobarbus's previous loyalty or to suspect the sincerity of his past friendship. He generously sends Enobarbus's treasure to him, accompanied by a letter of "gentle adieus."

Shakespeare's drama thus provided Dryden with virtually nothing about betrayal; Enobarbus is not a character in All for Love, and Dryden touches on the motif of guilt following betrayal only briefly, in the case of Dolabella. It was Racine's play that offered Dryden the theme that gives All for Love its distinctiv character; his account of Antony becomes another exploration of the psychology of a noble being who is haunted by fears of betrayal. This motif leads Dryden to use Btrtnice as his model for his own play's emotional climax in Act IV, when Antony comes to believe that has been betrayed by both Cleopatra and Dolabella. And Racine's play also influences Dryden's denouement, in which Antony's suspicions finally are resolved through his final acknowl- edgment of the steadfast magnanimity of Cleopatra's love.

While Dryden's play lacks Racine's psychological subtlety and insight, he is able to fill it with ideas and feelings related to betrayal, whose significance a knowledge of Btrtnice allows us to define and assess. The idea pervades All for Love, beginning with the first scene, when we learn that the Egyptians are poised to betray Antony. With the Roman armies at the gates of Alexandria, Serapion, the Egyptian priest of Isis, scornfully reports that "Our faint AEgyptians pray for Antony; / But in their Servile hearts they own Octavius" (I.i.45-46). And when the Egyptian navy does desert Antony at the play's end, Ventidius declares that "The Nation is / One Universal Traitor; and their Queen / The very Spirit and Extract of 'em all" (V.i. 156-58).

Ironically, the audience knows that Ventidius's judgment of Cleopatra is completely erroneous. Cleopatra's character, like Berenice's, is strongly identified with loving faithfulness. When she learns that Antony has decided to leave her, she rejects Alexas's advice to turn against him; she cannot condemn him, and she could not stop loving him even if he were guilty (II.i.33-35). She cannot even feign interest in Dolabella as part of a plan to make Antony jealous. As Dolabella himself remarks, her loyalty is "Transparent as a Rock of solid Crystal" (IV.i.202).

Dryden sets Cleopatra's loyalty against the absolute treachery of Alexas, who repeatedly advises Cleopatra to betray Antony (see III.i.387-89). In the last act, when Caesar's forces are at the gates, Alexas urges her to save her own life by giving Antony over to Caesar, but Cleopatra decisively spurns him: Base fawning Wretch! wouldst thou betray him too?

Hence from my sight, I will not hear a Traytor;

'Twas thy design brought all this ruine on us.


As Dryden constructs his plot, her charge is just. Alexas takes on all the treacherous "oriental" qualities of Shakespeare's Cleopatra, leaving his queen as loyal a lover as Bi.ri.nice.ll

Yet despite the queen's transparent steadfastness, Antony-with fatal suspiciousness-cannot bring himself to trust her. With consistency and underappreciated psychological insight, Dryden delineates his Roman hero as a man obsessed by a fear of betrayal. Betrayal becomes the central anxiety in all of Antony's relation- ships. This conception of Antony is perhaps Dryden's most original contribution to the story he inherited from Shakespeare, Plutarch, and others. And it is the idea that allows Dryden to shape the play as an introspective drama of character that stresses what Racine insisted on in a tragedy, "la violence des passions" (p. 481). In particular, this conception of Antony creates his strongest link to Racine's heroine, who also is a foreigner disliked by the local populace, as well as an ardent lover willing to abjure worldly power for the sake of love.

Dryden stresses his hero's fear of betrayal at his first appearance on stage, when Antony accuses Ventidius of being a traitor (I.i.379) because his old friend denounced his abandoning of empire. Though Antony soon recants his angry word, he never relinquishes his expectations of betrayal. Later, he bitterly tells Ventidius that "The wretched have no Friends" (III.i.83), with no awareness of the irony implicit in his addressing this cynical maxim to his own most loyal friend. When he is dying, his trust in Ventidius's loyalty again falters; he suggests that Ventidius could make his fortune by taking credit for his death. When Ventidius rejects this idea, with well-justified indignation, Antony must again apologize to the faithful old soldier.

Antony also mistrusts his young friend Dolabella, despite his description of their relationship as the closest of identifications:

I was his Soul; he liv'd not but in me:

We were so clos'd within each others brests,

The rivets were not found that join'd us first.


Yet even with him, Antony shows suspicions of betrayal from the first. Dolabella earlier left Antony because Antony, when he noticed that Dolabella felt a "warmth" for Cleopatra, ordered him to avoid her. As he tells Ventidius, Antony took his friend's departure as proof of disloyalty. Ventidius's appraisal is more generous: "he perceived you jealous, / And would not grieve his friend" (III.i.109-1 lo), but Antony does not seem convinced until Dolabella himself appears. Then his feelings of friendship return, but although Antony greets his friend with extremely affectionate, sexually charged language, comparing his happiness at seeing him to that of a "young bridegroom, longing for his night" (III.i.l21),l* his fear of betrayal soon reappears. When Dolabella and the newly arrived Octavia tell him of a possible reconcilation with Caesar, his first reaction is the suspicion that she has "poorly and basely" begged for his life. He insists that he will never ask Caesar for forgiveness, and even though Octavia assures him that he will not have to, he turns furiously upon both wife and friend:

Come, you've all betray'd me:

My Friend too! To receive some vile conditions.

My Wife has bought me, with her prayers and tears;

And now I must become her branded Slave.


Despite this outburst, Antony is soon won over by Octavia's virtuous loyalty, the embraces of his two children, and the arguments of Dolabella and Ventidius. His vacillation, which critics frequently hold against him, is certainly connected with the basic conflict Dryden uses to define his nature: as an ardent and idealistic lover and friend, he needs to trust those closest to him, but at the same time he cannot escape his obsessive fears of betrayal. Thus later when Antony learns that Dolabella actually did betray him by trying to make love to Cleopatra, he cannot forgive his friend. Nor can Antony believe Dolabella when, with belated honesty, he tries to exonerate Cleopatra.

The loyalty of Cleopatra naturally assumes the greatest im- portance to Antony throughout the play, and he focuses most of his fears of betrayal on her. When she first encounters him in Act 11, he constructs his arguments for leaving her around the question of her fidelity. He and Ventidius lay all the charges of betrayal they can think of against her, such as her liaison with Julius Caesar and her flight during the battle of Actium. However, when she is able to vindicate herself by showing him a letter from Octavius offering her kingdoms in return for betraying him, Antony is powerless to reject her. The evidence of her loyalty overcomes all of Ventidius's arguments in favor of Roman honor.

Why, we have more than conquer'd Caesar now:

My Queen's not only Innocent, but Loves me.


Then, calling Ventidius a "Blasphemer" for impuning Cleopatra's loyalty, Antony extravagantly orders him to beg her forgiveness on his knees. Later in his first exchange with Dolabella, Antony again returns to the issue of Cleopatra's loyalty, citing this letter as conclusive evidence that she deserves his love:

Caesar tempted her,

At no less price than Kingdoms, to betray me;

But she resisted all: and yet thou chid'st me

For loving her too well. Could I do so?


Inevitably, when Ventidius and Octavia report that Cleopatra has been false to him, Antony is shattered. He first accuses both of lying; their indignant denials lead directly to the final breach between him and Octavia. And that breach occurs primarily because Octavia pounces on Antony's sense of betrayal. With an unerring instinct for his vulnerability, she calls Cleopatra "an abandon'd, faithless Prostitute" (IV.i.387), and in his agony he calls his wife a "Fury." Antony's obvious pain at the thought of Cleopatra's betrayal does indeed make Octavia furious, and as she leaves she turns the knife in his wound by sneering that he has been "cozen'd" by a "feign'd love."

This highly emotional scene is remarkable both for its depiction of Antony's pain and for its ironic revelation that Octavia's pride has misled her. She sees only that Antony still loves Cleopatra, but she does not recognize that Antony could have abandoned his love for the sake of his duty. However, he could do so only if he were certain, like Bitrenice, that he had not been betrayed. Once he's alone, he admits that he "should have kept the mighty anguish in''

(IV.i.435) so that Octavia would have stayed with him. Dryden makes it clear that his strength to renounce Cleopatra comes from his ability to believe in her loyalty to him. In showing him reaching this decision, Dryden seems to intend to make him as noble as Bitrenice and more clear-sighted than Octavia. Unlike his wife, he never confuses his duty to Rome with romantic love. Ironically, Octavia, usually described as motivated only by duty, in this scene is guilty of more romantic excess than Antony; she insists that his return to her must be due to love, and when she sees that he still loves Cleopatra, she abandons him in a jealous rage.

In Dryden's carefully constructed sequence of scenes, Octavia's disillusionment prepares us for Antony's. In the following scene, Antony reaches his lowest emotional point because he believes that Cleopatra and Dolabella, the two people whom he loves most, have betrayed him. When he confronts them, the play reaches its structural and emotional climax. He denounces them as "serpents" whose crimes are beyond hell's usual punishments, and in a speech that becomes increasingly intense until it reaches near-hysteria, he reveals both his deep bitterness and his vulnerabilty as a man of sentiment, a character for whom emotional ties and sincerity of feelings are everything:

but you have ripen'd sin

To such a monstrous growth, 'twill pose the Gods

To find an equal Torture. Two, two such,

Oh there's no farther name, two such-to me,

To me, who lock'd my Soul within your breasts,

Had no desires, no joys, no life, but you;

When half the Globe was mine, I gave it you

In Dowry with my heart; I had no use,

No fruit of all, but you: a Friend and Mistress

Was what the World could give. Oh, Cleopatra!

Oh, Dolabella! how could you betray

This tender heart, which with an Infant-fondness

Lay lull'd betwixt your bosoms, and there slept

Secure of injur'd Faith?


The play rests here, at its emotional center, not on a choice between love and duty, or between Egypt or Rome, but solely on Antony's pain at betrayal and the corresponding guilt of Dolabella and Cleopatra as they plead for pity and forgiveness. But those Antony can no longer give; he sees them now as the worst of traitors, for,

Treason is there in its most horrid shape,

Where trust is greatest: and the Soul resign'd

Is stabb'd by its own Guards.

(lines 545-47)

All three end by weeping.

Dryden modelled this climatic scene of agonized separation on the conclusion of Btrtnice. This connection is the most important element in defining the relationship between the two plays' explorations of the psychology of betrayal. In Racine's Act V, Titus, unable to persevere after he reads a letter revealing Bkrknice's plan to commit suicide, threatens to kill himself before her. At that critical moment, when the audience is likely to expect a bloody ending typical of a neoclassical tragedy, Racine provides a surprising turn of the plot. He reintroduces Antiochus to provide the lovers with a credible witness to Titus's fidelity. Titus's threat of suicide and Antiochus's confirmation of his sincerity are essential elements in the play's bloodless outcome, for once assured of his love, Bkrknice can rise to self-sacrifice. Freed of suspicions of betrayal, she enjoins both her lovers to live and bids them a final farewell. Titus, stunned with this demonstration of her nobility, as well as by the immensity of his loss, can say nothing, while Antiochus manages only to breathe the play's final line, a poignant "Hklas!"

This conclusion represents a unique kind of resolution for Racine's treatment of the problem of betrayal. In his earlier plays, feelings of betrayal often lead directly to tragic bloodshed. In Andromaque (1667), for instance, Hermione's fury at Pyrrhus when she learns that he is to marry Andromache leads her to force Orestes to murder Pyrrhus at the wedding ceremony. She then becomes the betrayer as well as the betrayed when she repudiates Orestes after he has committed the murder, and the play ends with her suicide and Orestes's descent into madness. In Brittanicus (1669), Agrippina's sense of Nero's imminent betrayal of her leads to her misbegotten plots against him, which result in Brittanicus's murder and the miscarriage of all her hopes for power. Only in Btrtnice does Racine shows us a character able to overcome anger at a perceived betrayal. Here, and here alone, his characters have acquired the strength to sacrifice themselves to duty because poisonous fears of betrayal have been purged away.

Racine defended this ending by insisting that he was returning to the essentials of tragedy as established by the ancients:

Ce n'est point une nkcessitk qu'il y ait du sang et des morts dans une tragkdie; il suffit que l'action en soit grande, que les acteurs en soient hkroiques, que les passions y soient excitkes, et que tout s'y ressente de cette tristesse majestueuse qui fait tout le plaisir de la tragkdie.

(P 483)

It is not essential for there to be blood and corpses in a tragedy. It is enough if the action is elevated, the characters heroic, the passions aroused, and if all the play breathes that

majestic sadness which is the whole pleasure of tragedy. (P 223)

Indeed, he achieves this majestic sadness by combining a sympathetic sense of the anguish of the lovers at parting with an awareness of their exhilaration at the recognition that those they loved were true. They understand the value of what they must renounce, and that assurance makes their sacrifices possible. In particular, Bkrknice's devastating loss is balanced by her victory over the anger and self-pity caused by her fear of betrayal.

Dryden uses the same motif of the separation of his three noble main characters in a similar set of relationships, and at the end of his play he clearly intends to achieve a similar effect. This connection is especially striking because Dryden's plot must necessarily be different than Racine's. Dryden's historically based hero cannot possibly survive at the end of the play. Thus Dryden cannot have Antony conquer his sense of betrayal without blood- shed, as Bkrknice does. Therefore, Dryden afflicts Antony with a genuine betrayal. Dolabella, unlike his counterpart Antiochus, does attempt betrayal, however briefly. This difference in the plot is essential, because at the end of Act IV Antony is embittered by misunderstandings and distrust, not calmed, as Bkrknice was in the parallel scene, by the certainty that Titus had not betrayed her. Antony's parting words to his friend and mistress are an apt summary of his disillusionment:

Now, all take several ways;

And each your own sad fate with mine deplore;

That you were false, and I could trust no more.


Antony's disillusionment creates a powerful effect, but it is not the effect with which Dryden wishes to end his tragedy. At the beginning of Act V, his hero's sense of having been betrayed becomes even more acute. When Antony learns that the Egyptian fleet has gone over to Caesar, he feels that this final betrayal is especially painful because it confirms all his earlier suspicions. Then, as if to embody all that he is cursing, the arch-traitor Alexas appears before him. Now spurned by the queen, Alexas deceitfully tells Antony that Cleopatra is "gone." Before Antony realizes that he means she has killed herself, he jumps to the conclusion that she has also fled to Caesar. Horrified by this image of her ultimate betrayal, he pours out his agony without reserve to the vile Alexas.

my whole life

Has been a golden dream, of Love and Friendship.

But, now I wake, I'm like a Merchant, rows'd

From soft repose, to see his Vessal sinking,

And all his Wealth cast o'er. Ingrateful Woman!

Who follow'd me, but as the Swallow Summer,

Hatching her young ones in my kindly Beams,

Singing her flatt'ries to my morning wake;

But, now my Winter comes, she speads her wings,

And seeks the Spring of Caesar.


Like Bkrknice, he fears that his lover had never been sincere, that Cleopatra was attracted only to his success and power. Then, when he finally realizes that Alexas is telling him that Cleopatra is dead, he is doubly shocked by the account of her last moments, for Alexas chooses to tell him that with her final breath Cleopatra sought to vindicate her faithfulness to him. Antony immediately responds to this denial of her betrayal: "Then art thou innocent, my poor dear Love, / And art thou dead?" (V.i.236-37). In spite of his ingrained suspiciousness, Antony again shows a pathetic eagerness to believe once again in his "golden dream of Love and Friendship." His decision to commit suicide comes not simply from a recognition of how much he lived for her, but from guilt. He calls himself her "Murderer."

The strong final scenes of the play keep the issue of Antony's sense of betrayal firmly before the audience while they move toward a resolution of Antony's fears. When Cleopatra arrives, Antony asks her with his dying breath to affirm her faithfulness; as she does so, he interrupts to ask specifically about Dolabella. At long last, her answers satisfy him:

Enough: my life's not long enough for more.

Thou sayst thou wilt come after: I believe thee;

For I can now believe whate'er thou sayst,

That we may part more kindly.


This triumph of faith over Antony's pervasive fear of betrayal is not as carefully (or artificially) plotted as Bkrknice's similar reaction in Racine. Dryden does not bother to give Antony a good reason to believe Cleopatra, but he is very interested in freeing him from the agonies of his suspicion before he dies. Once Antony has overcome his obsession with betrayal, he can die with calm nobility; his military losses and disillusionments vanish from his memory. In his final speech he recalls the "utmost joys" of their ten years' love. His "golden dream" is restored. It is this recovery of faith that allows Dryden to describe the world as "well lost" for these lovers. They lose the empire and their lives, but, like the characters in Btrtnice, they find that dreams were true, and that betrayal did not destroy their love. Thus, as Serapion declares, they become a "blest Pair" who seem in death to be "Secure from humane chance" (lines 512-13).

This emphasis on the psychology of betrayal and its purgation in All for Love represents the fundamental, unifying contribution of Btrtnice to Dryden's tragedy. While Dryden did not imitate Racine's experiment in creating a tragedy without villains and without death, he was deeply impressed with the sentimental, psychological focus on betrayal in the French tragedy. And he recognized that Racine's characters' ability to triumph over their anger and suspicion at a perceived betrayal allows them to seem heroic and tragic, despite the lack of bloodshed. They are able to live, despite the loss of their lovers, not because they are weak, but because their belief in that love's reality has been confirmed. Dryden's characters, even in death, achieve a similar level of nobility and self-sacrifice. Antony's doubts and insecurities are put to rest, and, once that is achieved, the world means little to him.

The consistency with which Dryden adapts and develops this motif shows that his use of Racine was anything but fragmented or arbitrary. Once he has laid out this exploration of the psychology of betrayal, he then adapts it sensitively to the necessities of his own subject. He also follows Btrtnice in representing the destruc- tive fear of betrayal finally succumbing to the power of love.

That wholehearted triumph of love suggests the nature of Dryden's commitment to the drama of sentiment, for not only has Dryden "glorified tender and passionate love" as Jean Hagstrum puts it,l4 but he regards his characters' inner emotional triumph as more important than their actions. As Robert D. Hume has perceptively noted, in this play Dryden has attempted a "tragedy of character" quite different from the "remote and grandiose" manner of his earlier heroic plays.15

This perspective is essential, it seems to me, in looking beyond what R.J. Kaufmann has well described as Dryden's "many techniques of distancing and abstracting" in the play. Like many other critics, Kaufmann focuses on the problems in Dryden's presentation of Antony:

There are almost no inner issues, no looming but obscure emotional dubieties. This accounts somewhat for the talky,

artificial quality of the play. It isn't the conflicts themselves which are trivial, far from it, but that the conflicts seem to exist independently like disease entities-Antony doesn't seem to generate the conflicts out of himself but instead he contracts them one after another like maladies.l6

This statement may be true enough for his struggles to choose between Cleopatra and Octavia, Egypt and Rome, but Kaufmann's analysis cannot explain why Antony can still achieve tragic nobility in the end. To a considerable degree, these large and clear choices are designed to be merely the conventional heroic frames that set off Antony's inner struggle, which pits his "golden dream of Love and Friendship" against his fear of betrayal. Thus, although Dryden lacks Racine's intense psychological insight, but perceptively adopts his artistic and ethical ideals, he wishes to show that Antony's triumph over his suspicions of betrayal is a victory which compensates for his weakness.

This kind of emphasis is provocatively described by Wylie Sypher as a "late-baroque mode of inwardness." He maintains that late-baroque artists, such as Racine, "find the daemonic self; they discharge its forces, with all their urgency, as an unseen activity of consciousness, a conflict of a divided will, a discourse of the mind existing under the shadow of doubt." '7 These words are particu- larly apt for Dryden's treatment of betrayal in All for Love, for Antony's suspicions are his "shadow of doubt" which discharge the forces of his inner emotions, divide his will, and give urgency to his passionate commitments. Like Bkrknice, Antony attains heroic status not when he chooses love over empire, but when his love overcomes his suspicions of betrayal. And it is largely because of his nobility of sentiment at the play's end that his death can move us to that majestic sadness which Racine declared to be the whole pleasure of tragedy.


'Walter Scott, The Works of John Dryden (1808), 18 vols., 5: 287-93; rpt. Dryden: the Critical Heritage, ed. James Kinsley and Helen Kinsley (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1971), pp. 380-83; Hazelton Spencer, Shakespeare Improved: The Restoration Versions in Quarto and on the Stage (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1927; rpt. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1963), pp. 210-21.

ZH. Neville Davies, "Dryden's 'All for Love' and Thomas May's 'The Tragedie of Cleopatra,' " NbQ, n.s. 12, 1 (January 1965): 139-44; also Spencer,

p. 210.

SDorothy Burrows established many of the verbal and situational links between the two plays in "The Relation of Dryden's Serious Plays and Dramatic Criticism to Contemporary French Literature," (Ph.D. Diss., Univ. of Illinois, 1933), pp. 249-58, summarized in An Abstract of a Thesis (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1933), pp. 16-18; others who have commented on the relationship between the two plays include Katherine E. Wheatley, Racine and English Classicism (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1956; rpt. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1973); Eugene M. Waith, "Tears of Magnanimity in Otway and Racine," French and English Drama of the Seventeenth Century (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Library, 1972), pp. 1-22; The Works of John Dryden, 20 vols., vol. 13, Plays, ed. Maximillian E. Novak (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1956-1984), pp. 367-75, 379-83. Subsequent references to All for Love are cited by act, scene, and line in this text. Other sources proposed for All for Love include Milton's Samson Agonistes, as discussed by Morris Freedman, "'All for Love' and 'Samson Agonistes,"' NbQ, n.s. 3, 12 (December 1956): 514-17; rpt. Twentieth Century Interpretations of "All for Love", ed. Bruce King (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968), pp. 108-

12. Also see L.G. Strachey, Landmarks in French Literature (New York: Henry Holt, 1923), pp. 85-89, for comments on the parallels between Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and BkrCnice. Bkritnice was in fact a descendant of Cleopatra, and the Egyptian queen's love affair with Caesar is mentioned twice in Racine's play.

'W. Moelwyn Merchant, "Shakespeare 'Made Fit,' " in Restoration Theatre, ed. John Russell Brown and Bernard Harris (New York: Capricorn Books, 1967), p. 206.

5F.T. Prince, "Dryden Redevivus," Review of English Literature 1, 1 (January 1960): 71-79; S. Klima, "Some Unrecorded Borrowings from Shake- speare in Dryden's All for Love," NbQ, n.s. 10, 11 (November 1963): 415-18; Selma Assir Zebouni, Dryden: a Study in Heroic Characterization (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1965), pp. 81-94.

6Jean Racine, Oeuvres Complites, ed. Raymond Picard (Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1950); John Cairncross, trans., Andromache, Britannicus, BCrCnice (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967); quotations from both are cited by page numbers in the text.

'The Works of John Dryden, vol. 13; references to All for Love are cited by act, scene, and line in the text.

EPlutarch, The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, trans. John Dryden [and others] and rev. Arthur Hugh Clough (New York: Modern Library, n.d.), p. 1147.

gWilliam Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, ed. M.R. Ridley, 9th. edn., Arden Edition (London: Methuen, 1954); subsequent references to this edition are cited in the text.

1°A.C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry (London: Macmillan, 1926),

p. 298.

"Cf. Moody E. Prior, "Tragedy and the Heroic Play," in The Language of Tragedy (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1947), pp. 192-21 1; rpt. Dryden: a Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Bernard N. Schilling (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963), 107; for Btrhice, see also Roland Barthes, On Ractne, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964), pp. 90-96.

12DavidM. Vieth, in his Introduction to All for Love (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1972), pp. xxiv-xxv, has argued that this friendship theme suggests homosexuality and was "embarrassing," but he cites no evidence that Restoration audiences reacted in this way; cf. Maximillian E. Novak, The Works of John Dryden, 13: 386n.

ISThe middle-class, unheroic quality of Antony's images has been criticized by commentators such as A.D. Hope in The Cave and the Spring (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1965), pp. 144-63; however, one should also remember that Antony has fallen to his lowest emotional point by this time.

"Jean H. Hagstrum, Sex and Sensibilzty: Ideal and Erotic Love from Milton to Mozart (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 61; cf. Otto Reinert, "Passion and Pity in All for Love," in Twentieth Century Interpre- tations of "All for Love", pp. 83-98.

l5Robert D. Hume, The Development of English Drama in the Late Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 317. I6R. J. Kaufmann, "On the Poetics of Terminal Tragedy: Dryden's All for Love," in Dryden: a Collection of Crttical Essays, p. 92. 17Wylie Sypher, Four Stages of Renaissance Style: Transformations in Art and Literature, 1400-1700 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955), p. 293.

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