Research Article

Shakespeare’s and Shawqi’s Cleopatra: Portrayals of a Woman’s Moral Dilemma


  • Dawla S. Alamri Assistant Professor of English Literature, Department of English, College of Languages and Translation, University of Jeddah, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


This paper offers a comparative reading of Cleopatra, the most famous Egyptian queen in history,  as portrayed by William Shakespeare in Antony and Cleopatra (1606) and Ahamad Shawqi in Mas’ra’ Cleopatra, (Death of Cleopatra) (1927). It aims at analyzing both portrayals from developmental psychological and feminist perspectives demonstrated particularly in Carol Gilligan’s theories. Gilligan explored the development of women’s morality and ethics of care in her influential book In a Different Voice (1982) and other subsequent publications. The aim is to investigate how Shakespeare and Shawqi portray her as a female protagonist, her manner of thinking, and her system of values. Cleopatra’s dilemma as a woman in her different roles as a queen, political leader, wife, mother, and lover is examined in the light of these theories of ethics of care/ justice and the power im/balance between the sexes. The methodology used in this study integrates Gilligan’s perspectives of women’s concepts of the self, morality, and how women handle issues of conflict and moral choices. The study reveals how both dramatists successfully portray Cleopatra’s moral reasoning with its different dynamics, struggling with her conflicts, choices, and decisions to find her own moral voice and self.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

5 (4)





How to Cite

Alamri, D. S. (2022). Shakespeare’s and Shawqi’s Cleopatra: Portrayals of a Woman’s Moral Dilemma. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 5(4), 76–85.



Ahmad Shawqi, Carol Gilligan, Cleopatra, Developmental Psychology, difference feminism, gender studies, Shakespeare