In despair at the prospect of Antony leaving her to reunite with his army in Lower Syria, Cleopatra sends him a final gift: a ruby bracelet in the shape of bleeding hearts. In the most obvious sense, the bleeding hearts symbolize Cleopatra’s love for Antony and pain at his departure. However, this symbol of Cleopatra’s love also contains another, subtler message. Cleopatra’s servant Alexas, who delivers the bracelet, tells Antony that Cleopatra hopes the bracelet “may bind your arm.” This may mean simply that the bracelet will literally encircle Antony’s arm—but the word “bind” also carries connotations of restraint and imprisonment. The bracelet thus comes to symbolize the ways in which Antony is imprisoned by his love for Cleopatra. This is not the only time the metaphor of bonds is used to describe the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra. Antony’s friend Ventidius, for instance, compares Cleopatra’s love to “golden bands” that have captured Antony and led him to his “ruin.” And indeed, like those “golden bands,” the ruby bracelet is both a beautiful piece of jewelry and a symbol of bondage and imprisonment. This turns out to be an apt metaphor, for the bracelet does indeed “bind” Antony to Egypt and make it impossible for him to leave. Cleopatra begs to see him one last time to fasten the bracelet on his arm in person, and when they see each other, Antony is too overcome by love to leave her. In this sense, the bracelet symbolizes both Cleopatra’s love and the powerful, unbreakable bonds that encircle Antony’s heart.
Cleopatra’s Ruby Bracelet Quotes in All For Love
Can any Roman see and know him now,
Thus altered from the lord of half mankind,
Unbent, unsinewed, made a woman’s toy,
Shrunk from the vast extent of all his honours,
And cramped within a corner of the world?