Essay Title: 

Julius Caesar

March 30, 2016 | Author: | Posted in literature and language, shakespeare

Part One

In his play Julius Caesar , Shakespeare hints at Caesar ’92s imminent death via three powerful literary devices . Act II , takes place on March 15 just hours before Caesar ’92s death a death prognosticated through foreshadowing , asides , and imagery

The Act ’92s opening scene contains a soliloquy by Brutus , which portends Caesar ’92s murder . Readers can expect fate to have rendered Caesar powerless as Brutus ’92 soliloquies prepare them for a Messianic trajectory . As evidence , consider the element of foreshadowing displayed in Brutus ’92 : ’93It must be by his [banner_entry_middle]

death and for my part , I know no personal cause to spurn at him , But for the general . He would be crown ’92d : How that might change his nature , there ’92s the question ’85 ’94 (Book , pg

Further evidence of his Caesar ’92s fate appears in Caeser ’92s asides Caesar to Trebonius : ’93Be near me , that I may remember you ’94 Trebonius to Caesar : ’93I will ’94 , then aside , ’93and so near will I be , That your best friends shall wish I had been further (pg ’94

However , the most striking literary device at Shakespeare ’92s disposal stems from the imagery : during a violent storm the night before Caeser ’92s death , his augurers examine the entrails of a bird , which they discover , has no heart – ’96 implying , in terms of omens from the gods , that Caesar will garner no last minute reprieve from his historic assassination . Then Calpurnia ’92s dream filled with blood spilled upon the capitol , soldiers primed for war , strife and war foretells the aftermath of Caesar ’92s assassination as Mark Antony avenges his murder

Part Two

Shakespeare presents Caesar as an unwitting victim in the schemes of regicidal conspirators . He does so with the intent of creating a tragic hero one whose personality is radically different from the actual historical figure . By historical accounts , the real-life Caesar was better described as a tragic villain . To that end , Shakespeare ’92s Caesar is not historically accurate . The character is a literary figure not an historical one

Shakespeare ’92s Caesar comes across as a likable but rather vain victim of his own ambition . Moreover , he is the unwitting victim of his murderers . Caesar would be king – ’96 his crime amounts to no more , save he entertained such ambitions in a republic with a well-justified antipathy towards single-man rule . Brutus , a key conspirator , indicates as much in the following passage : ’93It must be by his death and for my part , I know no personal cause to spurn at him , But for the general He would be crown ’92d ’94 (Book , pg . Caesar , it seems , proves more a victim when his conspirators seek to justify their murderous intent . In fact , they briefly entertain the notion of drawing Cicero , a respected enemy of Caesar ’92s , into their plot : ’93let us have him , for his silver hairs will purchase us a good opinion ’94 (pg . Apparently , the desire to rid Rome of a potential king belongs to a marginalized group of nobles . However , Caesar , a victim to this lot proves equally vulnerable to his pride . His wife , Calpurnia , affirms as much ’93Alas , my lord , Your wisdom is consumed in confidence . Do not go forth to-day ’94 (pg , she says to him on the fateful day of his murder Yet , despite his excessive pride , Caesar remains a pitiable figure After all , his home life , which Shakespeare cleverly presents to readers , illustrates Caesar as a somewhat hen-pecked husband , willing to avoid the meeting with the senate council for no other reason than to appease his wife . She says to him , ’93What mean you Caesar ? think you to walk forth You shall not stir out of your house to-day ’94 (pg Moreover , Caesar , contrary to his supposed arrogance , sounds fatalistic as he reminds her that mortality is a plight common to all men ’93What can be avoided ’85Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods ’94 (pg . Yet , he acquiesces to his wife ’92s desire , telling her Mark Antony will carry the message to the senate that he is unwell Because Shakespeare gives readers this cozy , domestic view of Caesar readers are ill prepared to consider him as nothing other than a victim As Shakespeare , through Caesar , reminds readers , the latter did no more to Brutus , or any other noble , than a bad cold

Consequently , if there is any reason to dislike Caesar , then the merit for such lies in the man ’92s vanity or pride . Once Caesar convinces himself to go to the Senate meeting , after all , he tells his wife Calpurnia , ’93Caesar shall forth : the things that threaten ’92d me Ne ’92er look ’92d but on my back when they shall see The face of Caesar , they are vanished ’94 (pg . The above contradicts an earlier statement but with the same intent : ’93The cause is in my will : I will not come That is enough to satisfy the senate ’94 (pg . He blusters further ’93Have I in conquest stretch ’92d mine arm so far , To be afraid to tell graybeards the truth ’94 (pg . In addition , upon convincing Calpurnia that the senators pose no harm , he arguably seeks to convince himself with the boast ’93 ’85danger knows full well That Caesar is more dangerous than he : We are two lions litter ’92d in one day , And I the elder and more terrible ’94 (pg . Alas , Shakespeare highlights , for readers , a man ’92s pride and ambition are no reason to murder him

The historical record paints an entirely different magnitude of hubris contributing to the figure of the real Julius Caesar . A military conqueror with a thirst for power , glory , and the spoils of war a man deeply self-admiring and ambitious . During his ceremonial procession after the Fifth conquest

’93The procession was marked by an incident : when the triumphal chariot was passing in front of the site reserved for the people ‘s tribunes , one of them ,

. Aquila , did not rise to salute the conqueror Caesar was beside himself . He stopped and cried out “Very well , Tribune Aquila , ask me , then , to give back the Republic ” He was deeply angered by such audacity (Walter 510 The real Caesar ’92s thirst for adoration and power seems to defy contemporary understanding . Rising from general to Consul , dictator and finally to the status of a god

His person was declared to be sacred and inviolable . They swore to guard and protect his life , and whoever should fail to fly to his help if he was in danger would be vowed to the infernal gods . Nothing remained but to proclaim him a god . This was done , and they bestowed upon him all the attributes with which the Romans were accustomed to honour their deities a bed for lying in state , a special chariot for his images litters for carrying religious offerings , and a good many other things Caesar consented with good grace to his own deification (Walter 513 Instead of surrounding himself with friendly allies in the senate Caesar chose not to challenge the status quo (McManus . He factually declared himself dictator without the senates ’92 consensus but wisely refused the crown offered him (McManus . Caeser , like many modern dictators , sought to impose his image and his political will on every member of Roman society : ’93It was finally decreed that Caesar should have his statue in all the temples of Rome and in all the towns of the Republic . Thus , in the shelter of the sacred dwellings , his image would be present everywhere (Walter 512

Evidentially , Shakespeare seeks to garner sympathy from readers for Caesar that no historical account can successfully evoke . Caesar , in history , acted , not as a tragic hero , but as a self-obsessed ruler , a master political intriguer , a conqueror , and finally . a dictator and a god

For Shakespeare , Caesar the historical figure offered little material for socially relevant tragedy . In the play , Caesar ’92s admission to his wife that he is subject to the same fate as all men establishes him as a figure worthy of empathy . Shakespeare points out that his audience , like Caesar , while aspiring to greatness , is subject to Caesar ’92s fate . So Shakespeare twists the factual record and the Caesar who actually refused the crown becomes a fictional and likable , ’93everyday ’94 guy whose excess of pride leads him to take Decius Brutus at his word ’93 ’85the senate have concluded To give this day a crown to mighty Caesar ’94 (pg . All men appreciate flattery and still more like material accolades which , in of themselves , are a more appreciative form of flattery

Clearly , Shakespeare read between the lines of the historical accounts and found a treasure – ’96 a tragic hero inside of a seemingly comic villain . Shakespeare makes him likable . Consequently , Caesar becomes a pseudo-Hamlet , forced to some tragic end by a fatal character flaw and circumstances beyond his control . Shakespeare chose present a tragic figure , rather than historically accurate Caesar lying hidden in the history books – ’96 he had only to emphasize his flaws , excessive pride and ambition , while glossing over the rest . That the real-life Caesar ’92s megalomania and ambition would have created a far different and far less sympathetic character for a stage-play is evidence by the historical accounts referenced above that demonstrate the historical Caesar to have been very much subject to the perennial adage ’93Absolute power corrupts absolutely ’94 Works Cited /Referenced

Grant , Michael . The Twelve Caesars . New York : Scribner , 1975 . 31-33

Gelzer , Matthias . Caesar : Politician and Statesman . Trans . Peter Needham . Cambridge : Harvard University Press , 1968 . 329-331

Yavetz , Zwi . Julius Caesar and His Public Image : Aspects of Greek and Roman Life . Ithaca : Cornell University Press , 1983 . 212-213

Dr . L . Kip Wheeler . Literary Vocabulary . 23 Aug . 2006 .Barbara F . McManus . Julius Caesar : Historical Background . The College of New Rochelle . Nov . 2001

Dobson , Michael . The Making of the National Poets : Shakespeare Adaptation and Authorship , 1660-1769 . New York : Oxford University Press 1992

’93Literary Terms ’94 The Norton Anthology English Literature Volume I . 7th edition . Ed . M .H . Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt . New York W .W . Norton Company , 2000

Walter , Ge ‘e9rard . Caesar A Biography . Trans . Emma Craufurd . Ed . Therese Pol . New York : Charles Scribner ‘s Sons , 1952 … [banner_entry_footer]


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