“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.”
We live in a time where there is no field where a woman does not exist. Over the centuries women have created space for themselves in a male-dominated world and a lot more are still struggling.
Within this debate of feminism, It just struck me that there have existed from times immemorial in our fictional world; the women who have not only overpowered men with their beauty but also with their wit.
Shakespeare’s most exotic female creation – Cleopatra is one such female persona which can be well fitted in any arena in the 21st century. Cleopatra is one such fictional creation which though is placed in the 16th century literature but her persona is caricatured as such that when we replace her with any leading modern woman, we are laid back. The all-round personality that is now expected from a modern woman was clearly visible in this woman few centuries back.
Is the juxtaposition of the women of two varied centuries a wild fantasy or the genius of a writer like Shakespeare who had set a role model for the coming generations?
We are all aware of how Cleopatra’s charm had seduced a great warrior Antony to the extremes of his downfall and how her exotic attraction made the triumvirs bow down at her feet. “The triple pillar of the world transformed; into a strumpet’s fool.”
What if such a woman steps in the shoes of present day political leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, Mamta Banerjee or Pratibha Patil?
If Cleopatra becomes the ruling political figure either India will lose its existence as a place of rich cultural heritage and become an emerging place where lust is worshiped or Cleopatraic figure will emerge in the true sense of its boldness and assure posterity where India could be viewed in the light of a ‘developed’ nation state instead of a ‘developing’ one.
What if she was casted in movies?
If she was replaced with the super models or with the ruling heroines such as Aishwarya Rai, Bipasha Basu, Deepika Padukone etc, not only would she have dominated the B- town but also would have changed the definition of the actress or the heroine.
Cleopatra has always been seen as manipulative and in an image of a ‘drama-queen’.
“Indeed the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.”
She would have been a complete package which we somehow tend to find in our modern day heroines and still end up calculating the faults they possess and how unrealistic they appear. Cleopatra is a majestic figure. She’s been accused of falling pray in the hands of love and ruined her own empire along with the warriors with whom she had flings and relationships.
“…Her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love; we cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can report…”
A woman is always expected to be seen in a good and pure light. Cleopatra is an amalgamation of the good and the bad, of the right and the wrong, of love and lust.
Her existence in 21st century is not only for the better that is to come but also the authoritative that is to be seen only when if she unlike in 16th century gave up in the name of love doesn’t repeat the same today.
Cleopatra is timeless and her portrayal is such that “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.”
Change is the only permanent thing which survives. The ongoing discussion of replacement or juxtaposition or existence of the fictional in the realm of the real is the attempt to attain the long lost substantial past that we had left far behind.
No woman can attain that grandiose but they can only learn and struggle. A modern woman is everything but an emotional fool like she was. This element of devout and passionate association leading to self-sacrifice is what needs to be eliminated from the very roots of the society to carve out a Cleopatra figure in every home.
For a woman is not only to be seen as an object of sexual pleasure, a sight for lustful experience but also as a persona capable of intellect and wit. “I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life.” The importance of self-acknowledgement in the woman figure needs to be implanted by bringing the past into the present.
What if Cleopatra was a house-maid? What if she was accustomed to domestic physical violence? What if she was fat and ugly? Unimaginable, isn’t it?
The concept of such profound personality is based on her sheer perfectness and flawlessness that she belongs to a stature; she is not ordinary but extra-ordinary. She’s not an everyday woman but the Queen of Egypt. She’s a muse which needs to be invoked.
What if Cleopatra existed in the modern world? She would never have had. She already does in each and every woman. The only work left is to wake that woman who is lulled in a long sleep since centuries.