Late in act four, as Antony prepares to end his own life, he describes to Eros how “sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish; / A vapour sometime like a bear or lion,” and goes on to talk about clouds that appear to look like one thing but then quickly change and dissolve into indistinct shapes. Antony tells Eros that he is like these clouds: he cannot maintain his identity or appearance as a strong leader, and is now dissolving into defeat and death. This is certainly one meaning of the highly symbolic image of the clouds, but they can also be seen as representing Antony’s hopes and ambitions, which dissolve before him as he realizes that he has lost the fight against Octavius. Similarly, the clouds could represent the future more generally.
The Changing Clouds Symbol Timeline in Antony and Cleopatra
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Changing Clouds appears in Antony and Cleopatra. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 4, Scene 14