All For Love


John Dryden

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Themes and Colors
Honor vs. Love Theme Icon
Continuity and Change Theme Icon
Passion vs. Reason Theme Icon
Authority vs. Freedom Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in All For Love, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Honor vs. Love

The doomed love story of Antony and Cleopatra dramatizes the conflict between an individual’s personal desires and his or her public duties to the state, the community, and the greater good. This dichotomy between what Dryden calls “love” and “honor” is a rich source of dramatic tension in the play. It is the central conflict for the protagonist, Antony, who is torn between his love for Cleopatra and his obligations as a husband, father, and…

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Continuity and Change

All for Love is a play preoccupied with change. It asks how the sudden loss of power impacts two people, Antony and Cleopatra, whose sense of self been defined by their status as two of the ancient world’s most powerful monarchs. Antony’s response to the ruination of his fortunes is to constantly speculate about how his time in Egypt has changed him. Cleopatra, too, is obsessed with retaining her royal authority even as that…

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Passion vs. Reason

All for Love might be regarded as one of the early texts of Romantic “sentimentalism”—a literary movement largely associated with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that emphasized passion, sentiment, and feeling over rational considerations. Dryden clearly hoped that his play would appeal to the finer feelings of audiences, particularly women, since he writes in his verse epilogue that he hopes that he will be judged by the “fair sex,” who will enjoy the story of…

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Authority vs. Freedom

All for Love dramatizes the clash between the forces of authority in the world and the desire for personal freedom. The former is represented by Rome under the new emperor Octavius, with its strict laws, military power, and strong central government. The latter is represented by Egypt under Antony and Cleopatra, a kingdom outside the sway of the Roman Empire yet that values pleasure and personal choice. The clash between Octavius and Antony…

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