All For Love


John Dryden

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Octavia Character Analysis

Octavia is Antony’s wife and Octavius’s sister. She is regarded as very beautiful and a model of virtuous Roman womanhood, but Antony nonetheless abandons her and their young children for his lover Cleopatra—a decision that sets off a power struggle between Antony and Octavius. However, Octavia is not merely a pawn in the conflict between her husband and brother. She is depicted as highly principled, honorable, and independent. For instance, she leaves the Roman camp without her brother’s permission and travels to the Egyptian court with her daughters Agrippina and Antonia, in order to try to persuade Antony to return to her and make peace with Octavius. She tells Antony to take Octavius’s terms, even if he later drops her again. Ventidius and Dollabella urge Antony to abandon Cleopatra and take back Octavia, pointing out her noble self-sacrifice: “you have ruined [her], / And yet she would preserve you.” Octavia’s position demonstrates her concern for her honor as a wife above all else. Although she knows that Antony doesn’t love her, she is willing to live in a sham marriage for appearance’s sake. Ultimately, however, this same concern with honor is what prevents her from tolerating Antony’s continued passion for Cleopatra. Seeing that he is still obsessed with his former lover, Octavia tells Antony that she will leave him and go back to Octavius’s camp, since her honor cannot bear to have only “half” of Antony. In contrast to Cleopatra, then, Octavia is consistently motivated, not by love, but by concern with her honor.

Octavia Quotes in All For Love

The All For Love quotes below are all either spoken by Octavia or refer to Octavia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bloomsbury edition of All For Love published in 2004.
Act 3 Quotes

For I can ne’er be conquered but by love,
And you do all for duty.

Related Characters: Antony (speaker), Cleopatra, Octavia
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 4 Quotes

Nature meant me
A wife, a silly, harmless, household dove,
Fond without art, and kind without deceit;
But Fortune, that has made a mistress of me,
Has thrust me out to the wide world.

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Antony, Octavia
Page Number: 102-103
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5 Quotes

Let dull Octavia
Survive to mourn him dead; my nobler fate
Shall knit our spousals with a tie too strong

For Roman laws to break.

Related Characters: Cleopatra (speaker), Antony, Octavia
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire All For Love LitChart as a printable PDF.
All For Love PDF

Octavia Character Timeline in All For Love

The timeline below shows where the character Octavia appears in All For Love. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Authority vs. Freedom Theme Icon and within twenty-four hours. As a result, he has used artistic license in making Octavia, Antony’s Roman wife, come to Egypt and (unhistorically) meet Cleopatra. He defends himself for creating... (full context)
Continuity and Change Theme Icon
Authority vs. Freedom Theme Icon
...verse. He introduces the principal characters: Antony, a decent but “somewhat lewd” man, his wife Octavia, and his mistress Cleopatra. (full context)
Act 1
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
...However, he also points out that neither side has been doing anything, although Antony’s wife, Octavia, has come to take her revenge. (full context)
Act 2
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
...wife, Fulvia, to be with her in Egypt. After Fulvia’s death, he married Octavius’s sister Octavia and left her as well for Cleopatra. As a result, Octavius raised an army and... (full context)
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
...loved Antony. She also protests that she did not force Antony to leave Fulvia or Octavia, and that she fled from the battle out of fear, not because she was trying... (full context)
Act 3
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
Octavia, Antony’s abandoned wife and Octavius’s sister, enters with Antony’s two small daughters. (Ventidius has smuggled... (full context)
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
Octavia tells Antony to take Octavius’s terms and drop her off in Athens. He is moved... (full context)
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
...the joys of love and sex himself. Cleopatra enters and weeps at the news that Octavia has stolen Antony back. Alexas assures her that she is more beautiful than Octavia. She... (full context)
Authority vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Octavia enters and meets with Cleopatra. Octavia brings up Cleopatra’s sexual past with Caesar in order... (full context)
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
...women begin competing to see who has suffered the most in their relationships with Antony. Octavia accuses Cleopatra of stealing Antony’s wife, children, reputation, power, and political standing. Cleopatra says that... (full context)
Act 4
Continuity and Change Theme Icon
Ventidius and Octavia spy on Dollabella and Cleopatra. They misinterpret the gesture of Dollabella taking Cleopatra’s hand, assuming... (full context)
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
Octavia complains that Antony should show so much distress at the loss of an “abandoned, faithless... (full context)
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
...Dollabella claims that he loves her “no more than friendship will allow.” Antony counters that Octavia, Alexas, and Ventidius all saw them together and have confirmed that they were flirting. Cleopatra... (full context)
Act 5
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
Alexas argues that there is still hope: Octavia is gone, Dollabella is banished, and thus the way is open for Cleopatra to make... (full context)