Monday, November 16, 2020

'Julius Caesar' by William Shakespeare

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'Julius Caesar' By William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' is not really about Caesar at all. It is about the contrast between two of the main characters, Brutus and Cassius. The play is called 'Julius Caesar' because he is the pivot. The play is about the events leading up to and following his assassination.

There are three main characters Marcus Brutus, Caius Cassius and Mark Antony.

Brutus is the main focus of the play. He was Caesar's friend but was dragged into the plot to kill him because of his love of Rome. He believed that Caesar would become too powerful and that he had to kill him for the good of Rome. He was said to be the 'noblest Roman of them all' as he did not kill Caesar out of jealousy.

Brutus 'sits high in all people's hearts' and is very loyal and honest. Some people may say that Brutus was too honest and I think that I would agree with this. When Brutus allows Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral, Antony twisted everything Brutus had just said which turned the townspeople against him and, because of this, among other things, Brutus believed that there was no way out. After the battle at Philippi, he killed himself. Brutus has been said to be naïve because of this.

Brutus is a poor judge of character. This is shown when he stops the murder of Caesar becoming a massacre of his supporters, which proved fatal. Cassius wanted to kill Antony as well as Caesar but Brutus did not approve of this.

Brutus was Caesar's friend. Caesar trusted Brutus. We can see this when Brutus stabs Caesar. Caesar says 'Et tu Brute?' meaning 'even you Brutus?' This shows that he was surprised that Brutus would kill him.

Brutus' wife, Portia, clearly loves her husband. She wounds herself in the thigh, which shows that she can easily allow passion to overrule reason. Her lack of reasoning is also shown in her desperate suicide when she believes that Antony has been victorious and Brutus is dead.

Brutus loves Portia. He does not tell her about the conspiracy because of this. We can clearly see that he thinks a lot of her. His feelings for Portia are shown by his reaction to her death. Brutus spoke of Portia as being as dear to him 'as are the ruddy drops that visit my sad heart.'

Brutus plays the most important part in the play. We see more of Brutus' personal life and thoughts and feelings than of any other character.

He has to make the choice between murdering his friend and allowing him to become too powerful. He had to decide which he loved more, Caesar or Rome.

Cassius is the next main character. He is a contrast to Brutus. Cassius is sly, devious and self-centred. He was said by Caesar to have 'a lean and hungry look.'

Cassius killed Caesar because he was jealous of him. He arranged the conspiracy and decided to involve Brutus because he 'sits high in all people's hearts.'

Cassius is a much better judge of character than Brutus. He wanted to kill Mark Antony as well as Caesar.

At the start of the play, Cassius is quite a mean man. We can see this because he is willing to murder Caesar out of jealousy. This is shown because he doesn't like the fact that he 'was born free as Caesar,' he has 'fed as well' and he can 'endure the winter's cold as well as he' but Caesar is being offered the crown of Rome. There is, however, a point at which Cassius could be said to be fitter than Caesar as he tells Brutus of a time when swimming across the River Tiber. Caesar cried, 'Help me, Cassius, or I sink!' Cassius had to rescue Caesar, as he could not endure the river's rapid flow. Cassius also mentioned a time when Caesar got a fever while in Spain and was described as 'a sick girl.'

Cassius changes towards the end. He seems to be more helpful and caring. He consoles Brutus at Philippi over Portia's death and contributes to their relationship developing into a friendship.

Brutus and Cassius are merely acquaintances at the beginning of the play. They don't have a good relationship to begin with. Cassius used Brutus in hope of getting more support of their conspiracy from the townspeople. Brutus was suspicious of Cassius. He asks Cassius, 'Into what dangers would you lead me?'

Cassius does not like Caesar. This is shown in Act I, Scene II, Line 10 'For who so firm that cannot be seduced? Caesar doth bear me hard but he loves Brutus.'

Cassius does not like to have someone in a higher position than himself. That is why he killed Caesar.

Caesar does not like Cassius. In Act I, Scene II, Line 14, he says, 'Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.'

Antony was Caesar's right-hand-man which was noticed by other characters in the play 'Antony is but a limb of Caesar.' He was also Caesar's friend. He was very sneaky and persuasive.

He can be very calculating which is shown at Caesar's funeral. He obviously planned to turn the crowd against the conspirators, 'Cry havoc and let slip he dogs of war.' He does this in a very tactful way by mentioning Caesar's will and tempting the townspeople.

Antony is very emotional and, like Brutus, will not let anything stand in the way of whatever he believes is right. We can see this at Caesar's funeral. He knows exactly what he wants to say and he manipulates the people to get this. Unlike Brutus, he has a cruel streak which is shown particularly in his use of irony in the speech at Caesar's funeral, 'for they are all, all honourable men.' This cruel streak ensures that he avenges Caesar's murder.

One of the main themes of 'Julius Caesar' is the way that power affects the individual. The main characters all deal with the effects of power at various stages in the play.

At the beginning of the play, Caesar is the most powerful man in all of Rome. We can see that Caesar has begun to be affected by his power by the way he speaks of himself. He refers to himself as the third person, as 'Caesar', rather than the first person, 'I'. This suggests that he has become 'big-headed'.

Some other characters, such as Mark Antony, believed that the commands of Caesar were law. Antony comments, 'When Caesar says "Do this," it is perform'd.'

Brutus behaves oppositely to this. He says that he is not interested in power for himself. He killed Caesar because he believed that he would have too much power.

Brutus is considered to be the senior member of the conspiracy. He has the most power but does not use it wisely. He overrules Cassius on three occasions about killing Mark Antony. Each time has disastrous results. This shows that, although Brutus has power, he has neither the wisdom nor the ruthlessness to use it properly.

Antony's power over the people is similar to that of Caesar's. The people will believe whatever he says. Once he realised the amount of power that he had, he used it ruthlessly to crush his enemies.

I have always thought that honest people would be good, smart people but it turns out that I was naïve to think that as Brutus was so honest that he lost everything. He was also naïve.

I suppose myself, being an honest person, would know where to draw the line with honesty but, if asked on the spot, wouldn't think that you could be too honest. I have learned that there is such a thing as too much honesty.

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