Julius Caesar Literary Analysis

In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Julius Caesar, the contrast between honor and power in a leadership position is presented as many individuals work to better Rome with their own ideals of national glory. Brutus and his followers pursue the idea that Julius Caesar was not an honorable ruler for Rome, leading them to kill him as a benefit to their country. Marc Antony opposes Brutus, being a strong advocate for Caesar’s rule, in order to bring justice to his deceased acquaintance and improve the lives of the citizens of Rome. Both men give speeches of their views on Caesar’s rule, but Antony’s more powerful message pits Roman citizens against Brutus and the conspirators. Shakespeare first uses paralipsis in Caesar’s rule by demonstrating Antony’s subtle mockery of the conspirators. Antony later uses repetition of Brutus being an honorable man as well as rhetorical questioning in order to cunningly place the blame on Brutus without directly saying so. Shakespeare utilizes various forms of altruistic, yet deceptive diction to portray Antony’s speech as superior to Brutus’ because he relates to the sympathies of Roman citizens rather than their nationalism.           

  Brutus has some hesitance when granting Antony permission to speak in reference to Caesar’s death. Brutus solely asks that Antony not speak badly of the conspirators, leading Antony to cunningly work around his oratory limitations. Antony first exclaims that he “come[s] to bury Caesar, not to praise him” in order to peacefully present his connection to Caesar and to honor him ceremoniously (III.ii.73). Despite Antony’s supposed cordiality, his motives lie in revenge, and he continues to praise Caesar regardless. The author utilizes paralipsis within Antony’s deceptive diction in order to subtly turn attention towards Caesar’s beneficial rule. By initially portraying himself as adhering to Brutus’ limits, Antony feigns loyalty in order to better his speech, and inspire the citizens towards his rightful ideals. The author utilizes Antony’s underhanded diction to enhance ethos, thus creating an emotional response within the citizens who sympathize with Antony’s loss. Rather than promoting patriotism for Rome like Brutus, Antony’s speech hones in on the sentiment of the individual, inspiring the crowds towards Caesar’s ideals. Shakespeare later supports Antony’s focus on Roman emotions when he sneakily announces that he “speak[s] not to disprove what Brutus spoke, but…to speak what [he does] know” (III.ii99-100). Shakespeare utilizes paralipsis once more in order to distract from Antony’s continuous opposition to Brutus’ methods. The author’s use of logos when speaking of Caesar’s rule over Brutus is used to sway both the minds and hearts of the citizens because they are more willing to follow someone who gives back to them. The author portrays Antony’s diction as being both benevolent and deceitful because his morals lie in bettering Rome, but his motives are to go against Brutus’ rule and avenge the death of his beloved Caesar. Antony’s ability to sneak around Brutus’ restrictions helps relate to the needs of the citizens because there is a central focus around Caesar’s past accomplishments. Antony later puts focus on Brutus’ supposed honor in order to show the contrast between Caesar, a proper ruler, and Brutus, a misguided one.            

Antony puts emphasis on Brutus’ supposed honor in order to backhandedly mock Brutus’ morals that differ from Caesars. Antony repeatedly exclaims that “Brutus is an honorable man” in order to feign loyalty to the conspirators (III.ii.82). The author uses Antony’s repetitive diction to prove the opposite of its connotation. By portraying Brutus as consistently honorable, and then following his alleged successes with his detriments to society, Antony is cunningly putting the blame on Brutus while simultaneously complimenting him. Shakespeare utilizes the contrast between Brutus’ honor and his malicious actions to sway the public towards the more evident evil of murder. Where Brutus provides ideals of nationalism, Antony provides emotional and physical benefit to the public. Shakespeare uses ethos when Antony appeals to the public because even though they see Brutus as clearly honorable, they see Caesar as giving because they feel connection to his loss and they desire the materialistic possessions Caesar’s will administered posthumously. In addition to Brutus’ honor, Antony repeatedly claims that Caesar “was [his] friend, faithful and just to [him], but Brutus says he was ambitious”, thus providing a clear opposition between Caesar’s benevolent rule and Brutus’ sudden murder (III.ii.84-85). Shakespeare utilizes the comparison of Caesar to Brutus in order to place the “ambitious” characteristic instead on Brutus because he was the one that physically enacted evil. By backhandedly praising Brutus, the listeners soon sway from believing any accusations of Caesar’s rule because Antony continually disproves Brutus’ reasons for killing. By praising the conspirators, but praising Caesar more, Shakespeare is proving Antony’s speech as stronger because his benevolent diction uses ethos to make an emotional connection to each individual rather than to the whole. The citizens commiserate the death of Caesar by turning against the conspirators. Antony’s wisely worded speech then becomes stronger because he inflicts a physical reaction, all while speaking with peaceful diction. Antony’s final strategy in his speech plays with rhetorical questioning in order to make the public think and alter their thoughts towards avenging Caesar rather than celebrating his death.            

Even though Antony emits a cordial semblance during his speech, his inner motives lie in persuading the crowd from their original beliefs in order to avenge Caesar. When Antony states, “[Caesar] hath brought many captives home to Rome whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?”, he is forcing the crowd to focus on the benefits of Caesar’s rule (III.ii.87-89). Shakespeare utilizes Antony’s heartfelt diction in order to turn the crowd’s motives towards revenge because it is easy for the public to relate to a king who benefits his fellow man. The author uses Antony’s double-meaning questions to enhance logos because even though Antony is internally rebelling against the conspirators, his statements of Caesar’s public influences are true. Antony utilizes the emotions of the public in his speech in order to amass a larger following. Brutus’ argument was that Romans should rebel against unjust ruling, which is certainly a worthy cause. However, Antony relates to each citizen by illustrating Caesar’s values that care for people and gives back to the public. Antony uses the rhetorical questioning of Caesar’s ambition to show the error in Brutus’ killing, thus pitting Rome against the conspirators who oppose Caesar’s benevolence. Antony then finalizes his speech with an inspirational question that says, “you all did love [Caesar] once, not without cause. What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?” (III.ii.101-102). Shakespeare uses Antony’s sincere diction in order to demonstrate his suffering, which in turn effects the Roman public as they join in his sadness. By forcing the public to mourn with him, Antony’s rhetorical questioning makes the public think more about their connections to Caesar, which ultimately influences rebellion. The author uses Antony’s altruistic and deceptive diction to show both a connection to an old friend and to avenge the killing of Caesar. Antony’s speech relates to the public on a more personal level because he forces them to decipher their conflicted emotions. Brutus was seeking justice for a whole country, which cannot be achieved without hard work. However, Shakespeare provides an easy opportunity for citizens to sympathize with Antony by using rhetorical questioning within Antony’s kind-hearted diction. Antony’s speech is ultimately superior because his genuine diction enhances ethos to spawn an emotional connection between a beneficial ruler and his subjects. The powerful quality of Antony’s views is capable of influencing change, which is why the public so instantly fights against the conspirators in an attempt to avenge the much-adored Julius Caesar.            

In the tragedy Julius Caesar, Shakespeare uses multiple forms of benevolent, yet deceiving diction to display the superiority in Antony’s speech because he connects to the emotions of Roman citizens rather than to their nationalism. The author initially uses paralipsis to display Antony’s subtle mockery of Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Antony later utilizes repetition of Brutus’ supposed honor as well as rhetorical questioning to backhandedly place the blame on Brutus. Julius Caesar explores the capabilities of man in a leadership position. Even though Antony was right in defending Caesar’s values, Brutus’ morals showed a commitment to country and public responsibility that could ultimately be more important to Rome.    

Drawing Brutus as an Honorable Hero in Julius Caesar

In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Caesar is a soon-to-be monarch who is murdered by a group called the Conspirators whose justification for their actions may be debated. Throughout the story, Brutus switches sides several times, starting as Caesar’s best friend, then going on to kill Caesar, yet ultimately ending his own life with an apology to Caesar. The conversation between Antony, Octavius, Massala, Lucilius, and Stratus in Act 5, Scene 5, lines (50-81) portrays Brutus as a distinguished man whom everyone feels positively towards because he did not kill Caesar out of envy of power like the other conspirators and instead did all things for the common good, demonstrating his honorable and kind nature. In order to convey these ideas, Shakespeare uses assonance, logos, and foreshadowing respectively.

Shakespeare utilizes assonance to draw attention to Brutus’s selfless motives for killing Caesar. By acting for the good of the majority, Brutus is demonstrated to be a respectable man. Later when Brutus realizes that he had done wrong by murdering Caesar, Brutus takes an additional action deserving of repute by killing himself while stating “Caesar, now be still; I killed not thee with half so good a will” (V.v.50-51). Shakespeare helps to stress main points by using assonance; in this case, the sound “ill” is repeated in key words such as “still,” “kill,” and “will.” Having this pattern allows the words to individually pop out at the reader, thus underlining their significance to the passage. In accordance to what the ancient Romans believed, suicide preserves one’s honor in the face of defeat, moreover, preventing another from taking away one’s own honor. At the time of Brutus’s epiphany in how he made the wrong choice in killing Caesar and confrontation with defeat, he obeys this Roman law and impales himself upon his own sword, therefore maintaining his reputation as honorable. His final words show that Brutus is having regrets about his past while wondering about the real reasons that he committed suicide. Additionally, he wishes that “Caesar, now be still,” to rest in peace, and believes that he did a better thing in killing himself. Due to the assonance in this passage, Brutus’s last words tend to echo in the reader’s mind, leaving them with something to ponder upon as they continue reading.

Logos and a hint of personification help to portray Brutus as a gentle being in Antony’s speech. After hearing the story of how Brutus died, Antony says “This was the noblest Roman of them all […] Nature might stand up and say to the world, ‘This was a man!’” (V.v.68-75). Antony appeals to his audience using logos by giving logical examples of how Brutus is gentle, such as saying that Brutus aimed for “the common good.” Then, he praises Brutus as an example of goodness in nature with the words “Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’” Shakespeare also manifests personification here by characterizing nature as a literal figure with the qualities of a human. In Antony’s eyes, Brutus was the “noblest Roman” because he had not committed murder “in envy of great Caesar,” but instead for the common good. Brutus believed that by killing Caesar, he had liberated Rome and preserved its democracy, thus he would be doing something of benefit towards the majority. In the same way, the logic that readers see in Antony’s arguments assists Antony in his depiction of Brutus as a gentle being.

Notably, Brutus being an honest, gentle person — accentuated by Shakespeare’s foreshadowing of his honorable death — also pushed the others, such as Lucilius and Octavius, to think positively of him. In reference to Lucilius’s earlier prediction that no enemy would be able to take away Brutus’s honor, Lucilius speaks at time of Brutus’s death: “So Brutus should be found. I thank thee, Brutus, that thou hast proved Lucilius’ saying true” (V.v.57-59). A few scenes ago, Shakespeare foreshadows Brutus’s tragic death with Lucilius’s prediction that Brutus will not be found alive and instead be found like the honorable man that he is. This prediction already shows that Lucilius had seen Brutus as a benign figure. Having it to be proven true thus proves to Lucilius that Brutus is indeed a figure of virtue. Likewise, Octavius showed his positive opinion towards Brutus when he said “According to his virtue, let us use him with all respect and rites of burial” (V.v.76-77). After Octavius hears Antony’s analysis of Brutus’s goodwill during his time alive, Octavius offers a proper burial for Brutus’s body and similarly shows his acceptance towards Brutus by doing so. This acceptance is present in both Lucilius and Octavius in their common respect and understanding for what Brutus had to do. Applying foreshadowing in the earlier parts of this scene allows the reader a sense of satisfaction when events turn out to be what was predicted.

Ideally, Shakespeare incorporated assonance, rhetoric, and foreshadowing to emphasize significant points in the plot that contributed to conveying his overall message that Brutus was a good man. Not only that, his inclusion of these elements kept the readers engaged and thinking throughout the story. Using literary devices in such a way is the key to drawing detailed portraits of tragic heros.

Antony’s and Brutus’ Speeches in Julius Caesar

Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was more effective than Brutus’ because Antony used a multifaceted emotional argument, instead of relying on one assertion, as Brutus had. Because of this, Antony was able to sway the crowd to his side, against Brutus and the Conspirators. “[Antony] does not… show the insufficiency of any one approach… Rather, his different rhetorical devices play into and strengthen one another” (Wills 46).

The main flaw in Brutus’ speech at Caesars funeral was that his argument had only one source of proof, his reputation. “Brutus’ speech at Caesars funeral hammered home one argument- that his own honor had to be relied on” (Wills 79). During his speech, Brutus gave no tangible proof that Caesar was ambitious: no examples, witnesses, or letters proving that what he was saying was fact. The main weakness to this kind of argument is that if that one source of proof, in this case Brutus’ honor, is disproved, the entire argument falls away.

Another flaw in Brutus’ oration was his failure to ‘read’ the crowd correctly, and because of this, he presented the wrong type of argument, a logical one, when he should have projected a more emotional one, as Antony did. While planning his speech, Brutus did not realize that the crowd would be more reactive to emotional prompts. While presenting a logical argument to more educated people usually has the desired effect, lesser educated people are almost always more responsive to emotional cues. During his address, Brutus only tries to emotionally involve the crowd once, when he tells them he loved Caesar, and was Caesars good friend, but he loved Rome more, and had no choice but to slay him. Although it is a good tactic, he did not emphasize it enough, and seeing that it was the only emotional point in his entire dialogue, the pathos part of his argument left much to be desired. “[Brutus’ oration] is all very cut and dried, pedantically so” (Wills 53). Overall, Brutus uses to much logos, logical points of an argument, for a uneducated mob. They agree with him and cheer him on, and want to crown him king, proving that they do not understand Brutus’ real reason for killing Caesar. Brutus did not want a king.

But Brutus’ most intriguing flaws are the flaws in his personality that blocked him from understanding the crowd. “Brutus is a vain man… an impractical idealist… and lacks the saving sense of humor that springs from an understanding of his fellowman” (Matthews, Web). The way he acts and thinks gives him a terrible disadvantage, because he does not understand or know how to talk to the people. Since Brutus is from the upper class, he didn’t have much interaction with the lower classes of society, and did not realize that common men are not logical, idealistic creatures. If they were, his speech would have been very effective.

Antony, on the other hand, had several examples that Caesar was not ambitious. “[Caesar] hath brought many captives home to Rome,/ Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill” (3.2.90-92 Shakespeare). Antony reminds the people of Rome that Caesar was not ambitious because he gave his war spoils to the people of Rome instead of keeping them for himself. “When the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;/ Ambition should be made of sterner stuff” (3.2.93-94 Shakespeare). He also tells them of Caesar’s compassion and empathy for the common people. “I thrice presented to [Caesar] a kingly crown,/ Which he did thrice refuse” (3.2.98-99 Shakespeare). He then goes on to say that if Caesar had been ambitious, he would have taken the crown that Antony had presented to him. Caesars refusal proves Antony’s point that Caesar was not ambitious, and Antony begins to gain the approval of the common people as they think about what he has said.

One of the other techniques used by Antony to sway the people was deceit. He lied or talked about things he never could have known to reach the crowd on a more emotional level. For example, Antony tells the crowd how he remembered the first time Caesar put on the cloak that he died in. Antony was not an associate of Caesar during the military campaign that overcame the Nervii, when he said Caesar first put on the cloak. Also, Caesar probably would not be wearing an old cloak he had fought battles in to a ceremony at which he expected to be crowned. Later, Antony points out the various wounds on Caesars body, and assigns each one to a specific conspirator. But how could Antony, who didn’t witness Caesars murder, know who caused the individual wounds? The individual conspirators probably could not find the individual wounds they had caused because of the frenzied way they attacked him. But although it us untrue, this is a very good tactic employed by Antony because it ‘puts a face’ on the conspirators, and gives the now angry mob people to hate.

Antony triumphs because his skills and are strong in every area that Brutus’ are weak, and he has the advantage of speaking after Brutus, he knows what he’s going up against. “The psychology of the crowd that [Brutus] ignored or was ignorant of Mark Antony understands and applies” (Matthews, Web). Antony is able to understand the mob, and tailor an argument full of emotional prompts that involve the mob, and make them feel pity and empathy for Caesar, like when he points out the holes in Caesars cloak. His other advantage, speaking after Brutus, makes Antony’s job easier because now he knows exactly what he has to disprove, and has already seen how the crowd reacted to Brutus. With Brutus gone, Antony can disprove everything Brutus said without interference, and he does so with great ease, citing Caesars past actions and proving his lack of ambition.

The many-pronged attack of Antony was what made his address to the mob much more effective than Brutus’. This was because he only had to disprove Brutus’ reputation as an honorable man to destroy Brutus’ entire argument. He did that easily by proving to the mob that Caesar was not ambitious, and therefore that Brutus was not honorable.

Antony has lots of different examples to prove Caesar was not ambitious, and lied to get the audience more emotionally involved. He also figured out that he should focus more on pathos because the crowd was uneducated and very emotional. In the end, Antony was more effective because he used so many different advantages, proof, and various emotional ‘props’ in such a masterful way that they tied in with each other and mutually supported each other, making him virtually invincible.

Works Cited

Delaney, Bill. “Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR.” Explicator 60.3 (2002): 122. MAS Ultra – School Edition. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.

Wills, Gary. “Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.” New Haven, CT : Yale University Press, c2011. Book.

Matthews, Brander. “The Plays from Plutarch.” Shakespeare as a Playwright. Brander Matthews. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913. 254-263. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Mark W. Scott. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Harley Granville-Barker, “ ‘Julius Caesar’,” in his “Prefaces to Shakespeare, first series, Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1927, pp. 51-132

Stopford A. Brooke, “ ‘Julius Caeser’,” in his “Ten More Plays of Shakespeare, Constable and Company Ltd., 1913, pp, 58-90

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar.

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.

 

 

The Power of Rhetoric: Cassius’ Manipulation of Brutus

“For who so firm that cannot be seduced?” (1.2.312). Cassius’ muttered soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar immediately calls attention to his goal of manipulating people. A man well versed in rhetoric, he puts to good use his knowledge of persuading and convincing other men. Nowhere in this play is his ability more apparent than when he lures Brutus into joining his plot to assassinate Caesar. While presenting himself as a concerned friend, Cassius secretly manipulates Brutus using a firm knowledge of his desires and fears. Along with the juxtaposition of Brutus and Caesar and impelling word choice, Cassius successfully seduces Brutus to join his scheme to slay Caesar.Cassius first establishes himself as a dependable, trustworthy ally of Brutus. After telling Brutus that he will be his mirror, Cassius asks Brutus to “hold [him] dangerous” if he were but a “common laughter” or if he did “fawn on men” and later “scandal them” (1.2.72, 75-78). This declaration is an open invitation for Brutus to challenge Cassius’ moral character. As John Dove remarks, “Clearly no man issues such a challenge unless securely confident that it cannot be taken up” (Dove). Brutus first judges if Cassius has performed any of the described deeds, as thissyllogism requires men that do such deeds to be considered dangerous. Cassius knows that Brutus will not deem him treacherous once he determines false the minor premise—that Cassius has done none of these deeds. Brutus, who must judge Cassius’ morals, indeed gives these sentences much weight. Through the ensuing 80 lines, while Cassius criticizes Caesar, Brutus barely utters a word. When finally he speaks, he replies “That you do love me, I am nothing jealous” (1.2.162). His words do not reference anything that Cassius had said immediately preceding Brutus’ entrance. They actually refer to Cassius’ original declaration of sincerity to him near the beginning of their conversation. Brutus has clearly spent much time pondering Cassius’ statements. Indeed, as Dove asserts, “It is as though he has not heard [Cassius’ criticism of Caesar], as though he has spent most of the interim pondering Cassius’s bold assertion that his friendship, once given, is incorruptible” (Dove). Cassius has pressed Brutus to make a determination of Cassius’ loyalty, and Brutus consciously realizes that he can rely on him. After carefully addressing him, Cassius is now armed with Brutus’ trust.However, Cassius still plans to present himself as a caring, humble friend. When first approaching Brutus after Caesar has left, he comments that he is worried about his companion; Brutus bears “too stubborn and too strange a hand” over Cassius, a “friend that loves” him (2.1.35-36). By presenting himself as a close friend concerned about Brutus’ behavior, Cassius makes Brutus feel guilty if he does not fully trust and confide in him. Along with his presentation, Cassius’ informal tone and amiable approach lower Brutus’ defenses—so Cassius proceeds with seducing him. He continues by stating that he will tell Brutus how others perceive him—Cassius will be his “glass” that will “modestly discover to [Brutus] / That of [him] which [he] yet know[s] not of” (1.2.68-70). Not only does Cassius seem sincere in helping Brutus, but he also flatters him by revealing the high regard in which other citizens hold him. Additionally, Cassius’ logic—a glass will reflect Brutus’ self—appeals to the rational minded Brutus. Always alert to any opportunity gain Brutus’ favor, even after accomplishing his goal—Brutus promising to give consideration to his ideas—Cassius remarks that he is glad that his “weak words / Have struck but thus much show of fire from Brutus” (1.2.175-77). With utilization of understatement, Cassius averts Brutus thinking that he is a polished speaker enflaming Brutus to action. Instead, he is simply a humble man stating his opinion. Brutus, feeling comfortable making a decision based on his own ideas, is much more likely to side with Cassius. Having completed gaining credibility with Brutus as an unassuming friend, Cassius is ready to impugn Caesar’s leadership.Cassius begins by taking advantage of Brutus’ belief in Stoicism. He remarks to Brutus that he has heard “many of the best respect in Rome” are “groaning underneath this age’s yoke” (1.2.59, 61). By revealing to Brutus that some Romans have found Caesar’s rule oppressive and burdensome, Cassius forces him to reconsider his position as Caesar’s stalwart. If people are suffering, it is Brutus’ duty to help Rome to rid itself of the oppressor, as he must put the people’s will first and foremost. Then Cassius, anticipating Brutus’ belief that Caesar’s rule might be part of the natural order of the world, assures him that it is not so: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings” (1.2.140-41). Brutus’ philosophy subjugates him to the inherent order of the earth, so he might have felt obliged to submit himself to Caesar. By reassuring Brutus that Caesar has become a tyrant not because of fate, but only because of Brutus’ own inaction, Cassius liberates Brutus from accepting Caesar’s rule without question. Cassius reconciles Brutus’ Stoicism and assassinating Caesar, allowing Brutus to join his conspiracy without disregarding his philosophic principles.Cassius then follows by juxtaposing both himself, Brutus, and Caesar to illustrate the inordinate disparity that exists among them. As Cassius prepares to recount Caesar’s physical weaknesses, he ponders that he “was born free as Caesar,” as was Brutus; “Both have fed as well” he declares, and both can “Endure the winter’s cold as well as he” (1.2.97-99). By drawing parallels between Brutus, Caesar and himself, Cassius reveals how similar the three really are. Brutus, observing that Caesar in fact holds no more physical prowess than he or Cassius, can conclude that Caesar has no more right to rule than he. Additionally, Cassius phrases this sentence in a way that pits both himself and Brutus against Caesar. Finding such common ground between them makes Brutus feel like a partner of Cassius. Cassius continues, and after recalling Caesar’s physical frailty, rhetorically questions Brutus before juxtaposing Brutus’ and Caesar’s names. “Why should [Caesar’s] name be sounded more that yours?” he questions Brutus—his “is as fair a name,” as “heavy” a name , and “will start a spirit as soon” as Caesar’s name will (1.2.143-47). The parallel structure of this juxtaposition emphasizes each point of equality between Brutus’ and Caesar’s names. Just as each part of their names is equal, so should be each facet of their political power. Cassius’ rhetorical question additionally plays to Brutus’ pride, provoking him to consider why he, with all of his accomplishments, is judged inferior to Caesar. After demonstrating that Caesar is no more powerful than Brutus, Cassius is ready to appeal to Brutus’ emotions.Cassius follows by emotionally invoking Brutus’ ancestor, who “would have brooked / Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome / As easily as a king” (1.2.159-61). He appeals to Brutus’ feelings, knowing that upon remembering his ancestors who drove out Rome’s last tyrant, Brutus will feel guilty about letting this current one rule. Cassius’ assertion is almost a dare: will Brutus dishonor his ancestors or take part in Caesar’s assassination? Also, before Cassius lists Caesar’s faults, he proclaims to Brutus that “honor is the subject” of his story (1.2.93). Cassius uses the word “honor” because he knows that for Brutus, to whom honor and integrity are all important, this sentence will lend an air of legitimacy to his claims. If he appealed to any lower motive than Brutus’ honor and pride, Brutus would ignore him. Conversely, Brutus is likely to listen to Cassius if “honor” is indeed his subject, because to not do so would be to debase his own value of honor.In this play, Cassius’ firm grasp of rhetoric and his ability to influence others make his speech convincing and cogent. He bases his persuasion of Brutus to join Caesar’s assassination not only upon his intimate understanding of him, but also upon moving speech that provokes Brutus’ emotion and pride. Cassius though, is merely one of many characters utilizing the power of rhetoric in this play. However, he can count himself among those who are able to present a compelling argument and successfully sway their audience. Works CitedDove, John, and Peter Gamble. “‘Lovers in Peace’ Brutus and Cassius: a Re-Examination.” English Studies 60.5 (2003): 543-554. Literature Resource Center. Gale Group. Kingwood HS Lib., Kingwood. 1 Feb. 2008 .Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Elements of Literature: Fourth Course. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. 776-877.

Self-Deluded Characters in Julius Caesar

The main characters in Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Julius Caesar have distorted self-perception, showing throughout the play that they see themselves as actors in a great historical play rather than actual people (Van Laan 139). Brutus, Antony, Cassius, and Caesar all overact in a sense and attempt to appear mightier than they actually are. The only character who does not “role play” is Octavius, who “remains exempt from the ironic contrast between dream and reality because he has no imagined concept of himself which the reality of history can mock” (Van Laan 148). This paper reviews the ways the characters play their roles (or do not, in Octavius’s case) and how the audience views them.Brutus plays the role of an honorable man, trying so hard to prove he is honorable that he even convinces himself. He says he loves the name of honor more than he loves death (1.2.88-89) and that as an honorable man, all his actions – even the murder of Julius Caesar – must be too: “With this is depart, that, as I / Slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the/ Same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country/ To need my death” (3.2.45-48). Brutus thereby justifies his reasoning and that of his co-conspirators. Cassius has his own perspective on the reasons for Caesar’s death – he believes he is the true leader of the conspiracy, and over-credits himself with convincing Brutus to join the others in rising against Caesar: “Now know you, Casca, I have moved already/ Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans/ To undergo with me an enterprise/ Of honorable dangerous consequence” (1.3.121-124). Cassius, trying to play the role of the true Caesar by catalyzing the conspiracy, gives himself more credit than he deserves for Brutus’s participation (Van Laan 143). Antony also has an inflated sense of self-worth. He believes he is Caesar’s heir and that Caesar’s legacy must live on through him (Van Lann 145). After Caesar’s death, Antony starts to take control and gain power over Rome and certain individuals. He sees himself as more worthy than Lepidus: “This is a slight unmeritable man,/ Meet to be sent on errands; is it fit,/ The threefold world divided, he should stand/ One of the three to share it?” (4.1.12-15). Antony tries to discredit Lepidus (and, in another passage, Octavius) when in reality Antony may be the only one who is truly incapable of leading Rome. Finally, Julius Caesar believes himself to be an all-powerful, god-like person (Vaan Laan 139). He approaches his Romans and assistants with arrogance: “I rather tell thee what is to be feared/ Than what I fear; for always I am Caesar” (1.2.211-212). Caesar cannot be persuaded to change his mind or decisions because he is “as constant as the northern star,” as he tells the others (3.1.60), never fallible or incorrect.The audience’s view of these characters differs substantially from the characters’ view of themselves. First, Brutus does not appear honorable; rather, he comes across as easily manipulated, naive and weak, someone who easily changes his mind when influenced by outsiders. For instance, simple flattery by Cassius makes Brutus change his mind about Caesar and want to kill his former friend. This makes the audience see Brutus as disloyal and fickle-minded at best, a “self-deluded fraud” at worst (Van Lann 141). While Brutus convinced himself that killing Caesar was for the good of Rome, it is clear to the audience that Brutus committed the murder because he was afraid of what Caesar could become. Next, Cassius does not convince the audience that he is the true leader of the conspiracy. Even though Cassius organizes it, “it is Brutus, not Cassius, who ends up as the actual leader of the conspiracy” (Van Laan 143). Brutus commands Cassius throughout the play, as when Brutus refuses to take advice from Cassius during the battle and let the enemy approach the camp. In addition, Cassius gives the murder a more favorable interpretation than the audience accepts by glorifying the killing (Van Laan 141). While Brutus believes Cassius wants to kill Caesar for the good of Rome, Cassius only wants Caesar dead because he resents Caesar’s power. Again, the audience sees the truth that a character is unwilling to recognize.As for Antony, the audience doesn’t see him as a true leader – they see him as a disingenuous follower who uses Caesar’s name to gain power, not to avenge the emperor’s death. Octavius is clearly the true leader, who frequently directs Antony or disregards his instructions. For example, Octavius demands that Antony follow him – “Come, Antony, away!” (5.1.63) – and refuses to follow Antony’s lead on the battle field. He is not the great leader he believes himself to be.Lastly, the audience sees through Caesar’s all-powerful pose and realizes that he is far from perfect (Van Laan 139). His epilepsy and deafness, for example, are obvious weaknesses; overall, Caesar’s role was too powerful for even him to play – his role is but a “highly ironic attempt… for which he is utterly unfitted” (Van Laan 142).The Tragedy of Julius Caesar exemplifies the disjunct between self-perception and one’s appearance to outsiders. Players in any worthy performance of Julius Caesar would do well to practice the art of playing a role of a man who himself is playing a role only believable to himself.Works CitedShakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Elements of Literature, Forth Course. Ed. Richard Simes. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1997. 775-877.Van Laan, Thomas F. “Distorted Self-Views: Role-Playing in Julius Caesar.” Ed. Don Nardo.San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999. 139-148.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 1: A lesson is dramatic effectiveness

Act 2 scene 1 of Julius Caesar, from lines 1-69, is terribly important as it marks a turning point in the play. The two characters appearing are Brutus and his servant, Lucius. Brutus, having had the notion of murdering Caesar planted in his mind by Cassius, ponders and explores the idea here and, through self-applied rhetoric combined with the effect of Cassius’ scrolls praising his nobility, Brutus decides to take action and kill Caesar.The passage is extremely effective in dramatic terms: although Brutus is alone for much of the scene, with great potential for ensuing dullness and boredom, Shakespeare maintains the drama throughout and sustains audience interest through a variety of means. The line, ‘I cannot, by the progress of the stars, give guess how near to day’, provides a reminder of the storm and odd happenings of the night, which signify both the political turmoil of Rome and the inner turmoil of Brutus; whether or not public interest is more important than private friendship. The storm itself, at the discretion of the director, would no doubt be created using theatre lighting and sound, adding to the excitement and creating tension. Brutus orders his servant Lucius to fetch a torch, and then begins persuading himself that Caesar must die with the words ‘it must be by his death’. This simple, monosyllabic phrase clearly indicates Brutus’ intentions and, though he debates the matter in the course of his soliloquy, the final outcome is again highlighted in a six-word, monosyllabic statement, ‘And kill him in the shell’. These two phrases ensure that audience members are not lost among the maelstrom of poetic language, and maintain a clear sense of plot direction while allowing the incorporation of excitement and passion in Brutus’ self-persuading speech. The speech maintains interest through the use of poetic and richly descriptive language, using a variety of metaphors for Caesar including a ‘serpent’s egg’, which, if the man were crowned, would hatch and potentially cause great harm to Rome. Such powerful poetic imagery is used both to give information about Caesar’s sense of self-importance while enthralling the audience.When Lucius re-enters with the torch, he brings a paper, which, unbeknownst to him, Cassius has thrown in to the window, purporting to be from a Roman citizen supporting Brutus, which helps to further persuade him to the cause of conspiring against Caesar. The letter, drawing on the memory of Brutus’ ancestor who drove the dictator Tarquin from Rome, urges Brutus to ‘speak, strike, redress,’ and rid Rome of its new dictator. The entrance of Lucius and the presence of the scroll breaks up Brutus’ speeches keep the audience from boredom at his potentially (though this would differ according to actor and direction) insipid language. Brutus’ pondering is truncated when Lucius announces that ‘March is wasted fifteen days’, the dramatic interjection providing a reminder to the reader of the Soothsayer’s warning ‘Beware the Ides of March’ of I.II 18. It creates a sense of anticipation for the audience of what is to come and heightens Brutus’ vexation, though it seems also to be a factor in determining him against Caesar. The mood of the piece then becomes increasingly menacing and sinister, especially with the entrance of the conspirators in the following section. The sense of expectancy of the cadaverous deed to come builds right through from here to the moment of Caesar’s death, and the audience becomes gripped as the tension onstage mounts.The stage direction ‘Knock within’ provides a masterful dramatic transition to the next section of the scene, and as Lucius is sent offstage to see who knocks, the audience is left to ponder on the nature of a caller so late at night; again a deepening sense of sinister tension is heightened for the audience, and it is possible that, during the ensuing speech, the Director would have Brutus noticeably vexed.Brutus’ final speech in the passage is a summation of the section, and is employed in order to aid any audience members who may not have fully grasped the meaning of the primary speeches with their poetic language. The passage highlights Brutus’ inner turmoil with the emphasis, through irregular word-placement of the words ‘I have not slept’. The macabre nature of the deed which he has persuaded himself must be done is underlined using language such as ‘dreadful’, ‘phantasma’ and ‘hideous’, and Brutus describes his own state of mind as torn once again: ‘The genius and moral instruments are then in council’. ‘Genius’ refers to his soul and ‘mortal instruments’ to his body, again indicating the nature of his mental turmoil.In a clever and intricate use of language, Brutus implies that the consequences of his actions will affect the empire using the word ‘kingdom’ and, concluding his self-persuading argument in a brilliantly poetic, but notably implied, summation, the final word of his speech is ‘insurrection’, indicating to the audience once again that he intends to create an uprising in Rome.Shakespeare, through his masterful use of language, stage effects and characters, manipulates the audience throughout the passage to instill mounting tension and anticipation, maintaining a thickening plot line while retaining audience interest. All of these factors combined make this section from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, II.I 1-69, so very dramatically effective.

Shakespeare’s Presentation of the Character of Mark Antony in ‘Julius Caesar’

We meet the character of Mark Antony three times before Julius Caesar’s death, though he speaks little and we do not get much of an indication of his character. Antony fully enters the play exactly halfway through, when he makes a gripping speech, and his eloquence changes the course of Roman history. From this point onwards, Antony becomes a key player in the action and begins to change the nature of events in the play, especially with respect to Brutus and Cassius. He takes part in the struggle for power, and is driven by the need to avenge Caesar’s death. Antony emerges as a flamboyant character, but one who is also hard headed, clear-sighted, and ambitious.Mark Antony was Caesar’s closest and most faithful friend, confidante, and follower. The two men had fought many campaigns together, and knew each other very well. Antony is the only character in the play who calls Caesar by his first name, ‘Julius’, a sign of their strong friendship. Antony had also offered Caesar the crown three times, signifying his generosity and devotion. We see clearly Antony’s love and admiration for Caesar in the three short statements he makes before Caesar’s death, and over his corpse as he says, ‘thou art the ruins of the noblest man/ That ever lived in the tide of times’. After the murder, he attempts to act as Caesar would have done. However, Mark Antony is also portrayed as a partier and womanizer, ‘that revels long-a-nights’ and is ‘given/ To sports, to wildness, and much company’. He leads an extravagant and indulgent lifestyle and is also portrayed as powerful and athletic. Antony’s many assets emerge throughout the play; by the end his character appears to have developed, and it becomes clear to the audience that he is a loyal general who is militarily accomplished, as well as politically shrewd and exceptionally skilled at oration. Antony is similar to Caesar in that his power leads to ambition. An important moment in the play showing Antony’s power and significance occurs when Caesar asks him to touch Calphurnia as he passes her in his race during the celebration of the feast of Lupercal. According to superstition, the touch of an athlete during this holy feast would make a woman fertile, and the fact that Caesar chooses Antony to touch his wife suggests that he trusts and has faith in him, and possibly even sees him as a protector. However, as Shakespeare kills off the character the play is named for, he maintains dramatic tension by making Antony emerge as even more forceful than he initially appeared to be. Brutus makes a mistake in underestimating Antony’s power, believing that he is not interested in politics and that ‘he can do no more than Caesar’s arm / When Caesar’s head is off’. Consequently, Antony becomes a troublesome and dangerous rival to the conspirators. As Antony’s power increases, so does his ambition, and after Caesar’s death he proves to be a great opportunist, quickly devising a plan for revenge. Antony ensures his servant witnesses his oration so that he can use it to impress Octavius, Caesar’s heir and Antony’s ally. Antony is planning far in advance, showing his high hopes for the future. From this point onwards in the play, Antony becomes ruthless and calculating, willing to use his power and his abilities for his own purposes. His power over the people and soaring ambition become similar to Caesar’s.Antony confirms Cassius’ judgement of him as a ‘shrewd contriver’ when he meets the conspirators after Caesar’s murder. He states he is now on ‘slippery ground’, and his words have a double meaning: both literally with blood, and metaphorically in that he opposes the conspirators, but must make them believe that he can still do business with them. Although he is initially at a loss for words, Antony’s skill as an orator, wit, and ability to deceive and manipulate allow him to cover his feelings, succeed in pretending to befriend the conspirators and persuading them to trust him. He begins by flattering them in order to seduce them, using metaphorical language, naming them ‘master spirits of this age’. He has the nerve to call Caska ‘valiant’ even though he knows that Caska is shifty, and says ‘good Trebonius’, despite knowing that Trebonius directed him aside so that they could kill Caesar. Although on the surface it appears that Antony has turned traitor to his memory of Caesar, he openly calls himself ‘Either a coward or a flatterer’, boldly speaking aloud the thoughts that they are evidently thinking to themselves. His ability to apparently see both sides of the argument and relate to the conspirators gives Antony some protection from the ill intentions of these murderers. He is in a delicate situation, but keeps them on the defensive by demanding ‘reasons / Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous’. Antony cleverly avoids dealing with Cassius by taking advantage of Brutus’ power and gullibility. He flatters him and attacks his weaknesses, naive sense of honour, and nobility. Antony knows that Brutus wants to believe that he will side with them – he had said ‘I know that we shall have him well to friend’ – and therefore takes advantage of Brutus’ hope by deceptively telling the conspirators, ‘Friends I am with you all, and love you all’. This construct allows Antony to receive permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral, as it gives Brutus time to accept Antony and sympathize with him. Antony also makes a point of shaking each conspirator’s hand, and while doing so makes a mental note of each man’s name, which allows him to improvise the act of the murder later in his speech to the crowd. Antony calls some of the conspirators by two names rather than one (for example, ‘Decius Brutus’ rather than ‘Decius’, which is unusual in everyday Roman life, though this formality emphasises the tension of the moment). Antony’s plan is a gamble, requiring quite some nerve, though he is not dissuaded by dishonesty. In comparison to all the conspirators, and even to Cassius, the most strategic and scheming of them all, Antony is strong and politically cunning.As soon as the conspirators depart, Antony begs forgiveness of Caesar’s dead body for being ‘meek and gentle with these butchers’. This provides a strong contrast to the ‘gentlemen’ he spoke of just moments earlier, and therefore makes the audience aware that he is now able to express his true feelings and private thoughts, as well as emphasizing the falsity of his previous actions. Antony is incredibly emotional and filled with grief and anger in this soliloquy. His powerful and passionate words provide him with a sort of redemption and drive him to rouse the people of Rome to rebellion. He prophesizes ‘Domestic fury and fierce civil strife’ in Italy, and uses horrific images such as ‘infants quartered’ to predict the many future deaths and the chaos that are to come and to shock the audience. Antony’s complete and utter loyalty to ‘Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge’, reminds us of great Caesar’s continuous presence despite his death, and demonstrates the extreme measures Antony will take to avenge his friend’s betrayal. His words therefore set the tone for the rest of the play and prepare the audience for the forthcoming turmoil and bloodshed. Antony’s soliloquy marks a turning point in the play, which begins with his masterful and manipulative speech to the plebeians to avenge his beloved friend and to gain power, and ultimately dooms Rome to endure Caesar’s revenge. ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears’. Mark Antony begins his speech with an appeal for attention before a confused and hostile crowd. Commas punctuate his first line as he speaks slowly to give the retreating people time to hear him. This oration will test their loyalty towards Rome and towards ‘Noble Antony’. His speeches take the form of verse rather than prose, which make his words more strong, emotive, and poetic than Brutus’. Antony immediately disables all opposition in the crowd with the words ‘I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him’. However, he soon begins to direct his audience’s thoughts away from the ‘evil ambition’ that Brutus spoke of by talking of Caesar’s legacy and hinting at his heroism, kindness, and honour. Being a master of rhetorical and political skill, Antony simultaneously maintains Brutus’ arguments while highlighting their flaws and suggesting the opposite, and thus is able to appear deferential to the conspirators but nevertheless incite a revolt against them, much as the previous scene, where he damns the murderers while appearing to pay them respect. Here, Antony states that ‘Caesar was ambitious’ many times, then counters these arguments by using tangible images that appeal to the plebeians and remind them that Caesar brought money to Rome, showed compassion for the poor, and turned down the crown three times. This logical evidence questions the validity of Brutus’ argument and makes the crowd feel guilty by reminding them that they all loved Caesar once, though there are ‘none so poor to do him reverence’ at his death. Antony also repeatedly calls the conspirators ‘honourable men’ so that it seems that their view of Caesar as ‘ambitious’ must therefore have been correct, and so as not to go against the crowd, who are, at this point, still in favour of Brutus. However, the use of this phrase is heavily ironic, as he believes the men are traitors. Antony’s repetition of the term ‘honourable men’ gives his speech power and infuses it with an increasingly sarcastic tone that questions their honour simply by drawing so much attention to it: ‘For Brutus is an honourable man,/ So are they all, all honourable men’. The emphasis on this phrase also builds rhythm into the speech which captures the crowd’s attention. Antony continues to flatter the conspirators by saying ‘I am no orator, as Brutus is’, despite offering a speech three times the length of Brutus’. This also expresses his supposed low self-confidence, thereby evoking pity among the crowd in an attempt for support and praise of his great oration. Again demonstrating his ability to manipulate the thoughts of the crowd, Antony introduces the idea of ‘mutiny and rage’ while claiming to prevent it, then says that if he were as skilled an orator as Brutus, he would stir the people to revenge and riot. Antony then proceeds to flatter the Romans, calling them ‘gentle’ when they are in fact uncouth. By making it seem as if he is consulting the crowd, and by not explicitly enforcing any opinion, Antony does not appear dictatorial, but rather a statesman. He involves the crowd and gives the impression that they are in control. He asks rhetorical questions, to which he supplies answers. The consultation of the crowd (such as ‘You will compel me then to read the will?’) takes on a significance, as there is an intimacy among the crowd, the speaker, and the body. Antony uses the will itself as a device to tantalize the crowd as the possibility of money makes the people selfish and excited, meanwhile stating that he cannot read it as it would demonstrate how much Caesar loved his citizens and therefore stir them up. Here, again, he is deviously employing the craft of the rhetoric, as a riot is precisely what he wants. He plays with their desire and strengthens it by holding back information until exactly the right moment, which consequently makes the mob even more passionate and dangerous. When Antony finally reads the will, Caesar’s generosity in bequeathing his private gardens and orchards and seventy-five drachmans to each citizen emphasises the injustice of the assassination and sends the crowd into a frenzy. Often, actions speak louder than words, and Antony successfully uses theatrics in his oration to create a dramatic effect that will have a lasting impact on the crowd. He initially makes a powerful entrance by entering the Forum bearing dead Caesar’s body, which moves the audience, and from this moment onwards, all eyes are turned towards him. He makes a final lasting image when he uncovers Caesar’s body and reveals his wounds, at which point one plebeian responds with ‘O piteous spectacle’. I have seen a production of Julius Caesar at The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and the constant presence of the dead body at the forefront of the stage, draped in white fabric with the bloody head uncovered, increased and sustained the dramatic tension and suspense throughout Antony’s speech, while the dim blue lighting created a sombre mood and cast shadows on the characters, achieving an air of mystery. Antony thus uses the power of theatre to prolong the strife following the assassination by shocking the audience with a improvisatory account of the death, claiming to know which conspirator made each wound. He deliberately uses hyperbole such as ‘O, what a fall was there, my countrymen! / Then I, and you, and all of us fell down’, to aggravate his audience. Harsh ‘k’, ‘r’ and ‘t’ consonants in words like ‘unkindest cut’ emphasise the brutality of the murderous assault, while soft ‘f’ and ‘l’ sounds echo Caesar’s fall. By recounting the murder in a production filled with tragic pathos, he and all the citizens of Rome are forced to relive the traumatic experience. Antony’s oration is clearly based more on emotion than on reason. His passionate mourning and sorrow, as shown by his genuine tears over the corpse, and his sentimental reminiscing about Caesar throughout his speech win over the feelings of the crowd and contrast with all the other characters’ actions and language. Antony’s long speeches are actually motivated by grief for another individual, horror, and outrage, and the audience is enchanted by such a display of loyalty. Antony states, ‘He was my friend’, taking on a softer, more reflective tone. Concerns such as friendship are ones they can all understand, and the crowd can therefore empathize with him. Antony shows how much he has been hurt by Caesar’s death, stating, ‘My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar’. At this point, he feels the need to ‘pause’ to recover himself, and it is precisely here where the crowd instinctively began to change sides. Moved by his emotion, the fickle crowd begin to sympathise with Antony, commenting ‘Poor soul, his eyes are red as fire with weeping’. Caught up in their own emotion, they accept everything he says. The reason Antony’s speech is so successful is because he employs theatrical effects and colorful language in a way that is powerful and attractive to the audience. He is clearly not the ‘plain blunt man’ he claims to be, and instead proves himself to be eloquent and articulate, with a knowledge of managing crowds. Antony skilfully uses every piece of information he can to win over the crowd. His speech is well received, and public opinion turns against the conspirators.It is by targeting the masses that Antony is able to create a chaotic situation that allows him to seize power in place of the republicans. He even later attempts to dissuade Octavius from entering Rome, possibly to avoid sharing power. By means of his ruthless show of grief and persuasive rhetoric, Antony has convinced the unruly mob to revolt against the conspirators. They are enraged to the point of rebellion and violence, and leave to cremate Caesar’s body with due respect, burn the houses of the conspirators, and incite general mayhem. Consequently, Brutus and Cassius flee Rome. Antony’s ruthlessness becomes ever more apparent as he personifies his mischief, saying ‘Mischief, thou art afoot: / Take thou what course thou wilt’. Delighted that the crowd is now acting to his advantage, Antony immediately thinks of ways he can profit from this chaos, and visits Octavius and Lepidus at Caesar’s house. Utterly confident about his military strategy, Antony personifies fortune, stating ‘Fortune is merry, / And in this mood will give us anything’. By readily trading the lives of the conspirators for his own political success, Antony’s merciless nature is revealed. Henceforth, he uses his current position of leadership to defeat his opponents.At the beginning of Act V, as the two opposing sides argue before the battle, Shakespeare shows that language has gone past the point of having an effect. It is ironic, though, that Antony accuses the ‘Villans’ of ‘kissing Caesar’s feet’ while their ‘vile daggers / Hacked one another in the sides of Caesar’, when he did the same by betraying Brutus’ trust and friendship while turning the crowd against him at Caesar’s funeral. Nevertheless, no measure of insult or accusation will deter the inevitable violence brought on by that which has already been spoken. The war at Philippi that follows reveals much about Antony’s character. We primarily see that he is a skilled military leader, as he makes better decisions on the battlefield than any of the other generals and is proficient at pinpointing the best point of attack; for example, when Brutus leaves Cassius’ army exposed, Antony attacks immediately. Even when Antony takes the inferior ‘left hand of the even field’ he is victorious, while Octavius is defeated. Allowing Octavius to take the more advantageous right hand side of the battlefield could suggest Antony’s modesty and reason, as it shows that he is loyal to Caesar’s great-nephew and heir and acknowledges his superiority. On the other hand, Antony and Octavius argue, as they are both power-craving. There is some personality clash, though they are both able to place their differences secondary to their shared aspiration to defeat Brutus and Cassius. To do this, however, they must be expedient and practical. Antony recklessly changes Caesar’s will, which he previously used to manipulate the Romans, by looking for ways to ‘cut off some charges in legacies’. He wants to reduce the amount of money left by Caesar to the poor of Rome, and instead keeps it for the triumvirate and to cut costs for his army. He also proves to be cold and hard-hearted in discussing the deaths of any senators with power who may threaten his reign (for example, by curtly stating that his own nephew, Publius, ‘shall not live’, rather than attempting to argue for his life). Antony’s actions are filled with irony, as he is now assassinating people who he feels have power, just as the conspirators did to Caesar. Similarly, he goes behind the back of Lepidus, his ally, criticising him and using him resourcefully to do their ‘errands’ and to ease themselves of ‘diverse slanderous loads’. Antony thus compares Lepidus to his horse, and plans to withdraw him from power as soon as they are done using him, despite him being a ‘tried and valiant soldier’. His plan is to then assume power in Lepidus’ place. In this scene Antony appears very controlling, and by talking down to Octavius, who defends Lepidus by reminding him that he, Antony, has ‘seen more days’ than him and thereby implying that he is wiser, he comes across as pompous and self-important. By this point in the play we see how much Antony has changed. The generosity of Octavius that Antony himself used to manifest contrasts sharply with his personality now. The triumvirs, particularly Antony, defeat the conspirators, though they do so with no regard for cruelty, tyranny, and betrayal. As it stands after the battle, Antony and Octavius are both competing for domination. Antony has underestimated Octavius’ determination to rule Rome, and there is no clear winner, though Antony’s prospects remain high. However, we have to question whether Antony would truly be a good ruler. He has been given power by the people of Rome, and they are clearly in favour of him, even though since his oration his principles appear to have changed. Although his actions have been carried out on behalf of Rome, he has adapted them for personal gain. It becomes evident that as a ruler Antony would be prepared to forget truth, loyalty, and basic principles as he has done in the past, thus losing his nobility. However, he is still able to recognize and commend nobility among others, as in the final scene Antony pays tribute to Brutus, calling him ‘the noblest Roman of them all’, recognizing that of all the conspirators he was the only one who acted with good intentions, rather than out of ‘envy of great Caesar’. This public show of praise has the added purpose of uniting the people of Rome. The future of Rome now seems to lie in Antony’s hands. Brutus killed Caesar to create democracy and to prevent a one-man state, but the murder appears to have failed to solve their political problems, as Antony’s climb to power indicates that he too will be a dictator like Caesar. Antony has little concern for the plebeians who will suffer due to the civil strife he has created. It is ironic that Antony hails Brutus as being a ‘man’ rather than a god like Caesar was, but nevertheless is set out to be a similar type of leader. The future of Rome is the audience’s primary concern in this scene, though the fact that the play ends with a sense of uncertainty means that many decisions are left up to the audience. Following the assassination we have ‘a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome’, and since the political structure as it is at the end of the novel is largely how it was to begin with, the most likely conclusion is that little will change in the future. This is due to the overwhelming desire for power and authority among the ruling class. There is no prospect of hierarchy in the political system the triumvirate has created. These men should unite and work towards bringing Rome to stability, working for the good of the people, but they are in fact divided by their pride and self-interest, and their constant attempts to undermine each other. These concerns have preoccupied their minds, and as a result they have overlooked the qualities of honor and dignity that should be characteristic of all Romans. The tragedy of Julius Caesar therefore lies not only in the murderous assault on the central character, but also in the crisis of a powerful nation which rules one third of the world. Throughout ‘Julius Caesar’ Mark Antony proves himself to be a sophisticated and artful public speaker, a successful military leader, and a sly politician, meanwhile fulfilling Brutus’ assessment of him as a ‘wise and valiant Roman’. Antony has a romantic side to him, which encourages his emotion to influence both other people, and many of his own decisions. His emotional oration over Caesar’s body is deserved and allows him to stand up for what he feels is right, though this emotion also provokes political unrest in Rome. Antony also embraces reason, particularly in his speech to the plebeians, and his outstanding charisma demonstrates the power of oratory, as it overwhelms the Roman people. However, his deliberate misuse of language reveals his calculating personality, which during the battle becomes brutal and cruel. Two contrasting sides of his personality are thus exposed: the logical and reasonable, and the ruthless. Antony thus symbolizes both the problem and the solution for Rome, which is the reason for the indefinite consequences of the action and events in the play.

Classification of the Main Characters of William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Although the characters of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar can not be easily classified because of their emotional depth and mental complexity, one can draw certain conclusions about them based on the attributes that they possess. Shakespeare uses the intricacy of the characters’ personalities to develop the plot. The motives of some characters are often quite obvious, while other characters intentionally or subconsciously mask their intent to maintain an appearance of loyalty or to deceive their adversary. Few of the characters match perfectly one of the four character descriptions; protagonist, antagonist, anti-hero, or heroic anti-hero, but rather are a composite of different aspects of each. Mark Antony is probably the easiest of the characters to classify. He is quite clearly an antagonist. Before the assassination Antony makes only four brief appearances and speaks as many lines. Three times, twice at the games and once at Caesar’s house, Antony affirms his allegiance to Caesar as a ruler and as a friend. After the assassination; however, Antony hastens to fill the void made by Caesar’s absence and he becomes a prominent player in the struggle for power. Beginning with Antony’s use of his servant to flatter Brutus prior to Antony’s arrival at the Capitol, Antony attempts to appeal to Brutus’s self-perceived senses of honor and nobility. He successfully convinces Brutus that he would be able to agree with the conspirators if their cause was explained to him. He shakes hands with all of them to prove the integrity of his claim. He gains the right to speak at Caesar’s funeral by playing on Brutus’s sense of righteousness. At the funeral Antony effects his plan by turning the mob of fickle plebeians against the conspirators, forcing them to flee Rome. Antony gains the support of Octavius, and together they pursue Brutus and Cassius to Philippi where Antony skillfully directs his army against them. The defeat resulted in the suicides of Brutus and Cassius. Caesar plays the part of a heroic anti-hero. Although he had attained military triumphs prior to the beginning of the play, he was not satisfied with them. He craved absolute power but his inclination to be easily flattered and his disregard of the omens led to his demise. From the first glimpse of Caesar at the Lupercal in Act I Scene II it is quite clear that he is a man to be revered and would have it no other way. When he tells Antony to touch Calpurnia, Antony replies, “When Caesar says, ëDo this,’ it is performed.” Caesar foolishly dismissed the soothsayer who warns him to “beware the Ides of March” as a “dreamer.” Caesar considers himself to be one with the gods and believes himself to be invincible against mere humans. The night before the Ides of March Caesar is given many indications of his impending doom, but he heeds none of them. Among other things Calpurnia told Caesar that she had envisioned a lioness whelping in the streets, graves that unearthed their dead, and “fierce fiery warriors” that “fought upon the clouds.” Caesar also ignored the meteor shower and scorned the advice of the augurers who failed to find a heart within a slaughtered beast. When Calpurnia insisted that it would be dangerous to venture to the Capitol, Caesar said that he and danger were “two lions littered in one day, / And I the elder and more terrible.” He allowed Decius Brutus to appeal to his Achilles heel, egotism and honor. Decius told Caesar that the Senate was going to crown him, and they would perceive his absence as cowardice. On the way to the Capitol, Caesar once again ignores the soothsayer and he disregards Artemidorus’s letter. Once in the Senate House, Brutus and the other conspirators plead with Caesar to repeal the banishment of Metellus Cimber’s brother. While they are kissing his feet and fawning over him, Casca stabs him in the back and the rest follow suit. Even until the very last Caesar allowed himself to be deceived by flattery and by his own perceived invulnerability. Cassius is the definitive anti-hero. He fails in almost everything he undertakes and has a massive inferiority complex. Caesar recognizes this in Act I Scene II when he says, “Such men as he (Cassius) never be at heart’s ease / Whiles they behold a greater than themselves.” Cassius makes bad decisions and constantly allows Brutus to persuade him into agreeing with courses of actions that are based on faulty logic. Cassius yields to Brutus three times during the planning of the murder. Brutus overrules Cassius on the matter of swearing an oath, whether to kill Antony as well as Caesar, and whether or not they should include Cicero in the conspiracy. Cassius deeply resents being subservient to Caesar. He fails to comprehend why Caesar, not he, is the one in power. In Act I Scene II Cassius says to Brutus, “I was born as free as CaesarÖ / We both have fed as well, and we can both / Endure the winter’s cold as well as he (Caesar).” He is engulfed with feelings of loathing and animosity, and he is frustrated because there is little he can do about them. The most grievous of his many errors was to bow to Brutus’s will that they should fight at Philippi rather than holding their defensive position on elevated terrain. Cassius became so accustomed to failing that he did not question Pindarus when he mistakenly reported that the enemy had captured Titinius. Believing that he had caused the death of Titinius and lost the battle, Cassius beseeched Pindarus to kill him. Despite the various bad decisions Brutus made throughout the course of the play, he is the hero. He has strong moral convictions and an unwavering sense of nobility. He is the only character in the play who governs his life according to these principles. The other characters in the play recognize these traits and they are the primary reason that Cassius recruits him. In Act II Scene I Cauis Ligarius says, “I am not sick if Brutus have in hand / Any exploit worthy the name of honor.” In the same scene Cassius states, “no man here / But honors you; and everyone doth wish / You had but that opinion of yourself / Which every noble Roman bears of you.” Cassius believes that Brutus will provide an honorable front for his own selfish deeds. Brutus measures all of his actions on his own scale of ethics and righteousness. He is slow and deliberate when making moral decisions, but quick to respond to questions about the conspiracy. Brutus contemplates the necessity of an assassination for over a month. He is forced to weigh his unbending values against his love and friendship for Caesar. He realizes that it is necessary to rid Rome of Caesar in order to prevent his power from growing too great, but he finds himself wrestling with the emotional stress of condoning the murder of a good friend. In Act II Scene I Brutus wishes that they could “come by Caesar’s spirit / and not dismember Caesar.” Brutus wants to “carve him (Caesar) as a dish fit for the gods, / Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds.” To Brutus’s dismay this does not prove to be the case. When Antony petitions Brutus to allow him to speak at Caesar’s funeral, Brutus consents against the will of Cassius. Brutus sees it fit that someone should recount the positive side of Caesar’s life because he never considered Caesar to be a bad person, only a threat to freedom. After the assassination, Brutus second-guesses his motives and confronts the reality that he participated in a murder. He can no longer justify it to himself. He lives by his sense of honor until the very end when he commits suicide to prevent the disgrace of being taken “bound to Rome.”

The Leadership of Caius Cassius

Ruling over the Roman Empire from 60 B.C. to the time of his death in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar is one of the most widely recognized historical figures of all time. His legacy was immortalized through the writing of William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, which centers around the group that organized to assassinate him. Leadership is a heavy theme, especially revolving around Brutus and Cassius, who conspire and eventually kill Caesar, and Marc Antony, who remains loyal to Caesar by making enemies of the conspirators. Cassius is shown to be more fit to lead Rome than Brutus and Antony because he remains strength in his beliefs while convincing others of them, yet he is not a power-hungry dictator.

Cassius’ leadership skills are shown throughout the play in his obligation to kill Caesar for the people of Rome and his ability to persuade Brutus to join the conspiracy. Cassius’ goal throughout the play is to assassinate Caesar, in hopes that his death will protect Rome from harmful tyranny. He will stop at no point to save the Romans, no matter the risk his actions suggest. Cassius says, “Why, men, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonorable graves” (i.ii.142-145). Cassius’ words demonstrate that he does not believe in tyrannical ruling, and that as a citizen under Caesar’s rule he understands what it is like to feel like a powerless sheep. His decision to kill Caesar shows not only that he will not be a tyrannical leader, but that he is willing to take action when needed. When Cassius acts, it is always for the well-being of Rome. In order to achieve his ultimate goal, Cassius realizes that he must recruit Brutus to his group. Brutus is very close to Caesar, but is loyal to him, so Cassius devises a special plan to convince him. He sends anonymous letters to Brutus’ home, one of which reading, “Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe? What, Rome? / My ancestors did from the streets of Rome / The Tarquin drive, when he was call’d a king” (ii.i.54-57). Cassius, as leader of the conspiracy, knows what is best for the group in his acquisition of Brutus. Though his crafty, manipulative way of doing so may make him seem antagonistic, it also demonstrates his excellent way with words and his maintaining of his beliefs. The strength he shows in this plan proves that he is more than fit to rule Rome. Through his strong beliefs and abilities, Cassius is represented as a strong leadership type.

Brutus shows to be a weaker leader than Cassius as he is easily persuaded to kill his good friend and to allow Antony, an enemy, to speak at Caesar’s funeral. Brutus is personally very close to Caesar, as his friend rather than his ruler. He is fairly loyal to Caesar until Cassius first attempts to convince him to conspire against him. Despite his friendship, he believes everything Cassius says and agrees to kill him. Antony says, speaking of Brutus, “For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel: / Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him! / This was the most unkindest cut of all” (iii.ii.193-185). Brutus, near the beginning, thinks nothing negatively of Caesar whatsoever. But as soon as Cassius suggests that Caesar is dangerous, Brutus begins to believe him. Since he is convinced so easily to believe negatively about Caesar, it proves that Brutus as a character is disloyal and weak, as he does not possess the strength to defend his friend Caesar. After Caesar’s death, his loyal friend Antony is outraged at the conspirators and wishes to share his anger in a speech at Caesar’s funeral. Despite Cassius’ warnings that this will only end in disaster, Brutus single handedly allows Antony to speak. Brutus says, “You shall speak / In the same pulpit whereto I am going, / After my speech is ended” (iii.i.274-276). Cassius has carefully thought through what would occur if Antony were to speak, and strongly advises Brutus against it. Despite this, Brutus acts upon his own accord and allows him to give a short speech. He lets Antony convince him of something that directly contradicts what he believes, and in doing so shows another example of weakness in his character. Brutus’ leadership skills are severely lacking in that he does not stand up for his own beliefs whatsoever, showing his weakness as a character

Antony as well does not possess leadership qualities like Cassius’ because he idolizes Caesar and his power. Antony is Caesar’s most loyal friend throughout the play, showing this by obeying his every word and showing a manner of respect that almost suggests that he believes Caesar to be a god and have similar authority. He says, “I shall remember: / When Caesar says ‘do this’, it is perform’d” (i.ii.12-13). The conspirators formed in order to prevent Caesar from being an all-powerful dictator, as they believed this would lead to a downfall in Rome. However, Antony does not share this view, as he says that Caesar’s commands should always be followed. He idolizes Caesar’s power, suggesting that if he were leader, he would follow a similar philosophy. In the last two acts of the play, Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus rule Rome as a triumvirate. However, Antony mentions to Octavius that he wishes to have Lepidus out of the picture so that he and Octavius may become more powerful. Antony says, “Listen great things: – Brutus and Cassius / Are levying powers; we must straight make head: / Therefore let our alliance be combined / Our best friends made our means stretch’d / And let us presently go sit in council” (iv.i.45-49). Antony is a part of Rome’s triumvirate, at the time possibly the highest level of power acquirable. Yet, he is not satisfied with it. He is willing to destroy Lepidus in order for him and Octavius to gain even more power. Through this desire, Antony shows he is no less than a power hungry dictator. Because of Antony’s wishes for strong power over the people of Rome, he does not possess the qualities necessary to rule.

Shakespeare’s theme of leadership throughout Julius Caesar is one that still applies nearly 500 years later. Shakespeare gives audiences three examples of leadership – Cassius, a strong, good-willed leader, Brutus, a weak and inconsistent leader, and Antony, a dangerous, dictatorial leader. He shows that leaders should possess qualities much like that of Cassius – maintain strength in their beliefs, but act for the well being of their people. Julius Caesar is a prime example of the idea that literary if themes are applied to modern life, the world may be a better place.

The Wives in Julius Caesar

The wives of Caesar and Brutus played a very key role in Act II, scenes 1 and 2 in Julius Caesar, by Shakespeare. They both significantly affected their husbands. They had to do something to influence their husbands to prevent them from doing something wrong, some things they did actually successfully influenced their husbands and some things that they did did not have the effect that they wanted. Both wives are very loyal to their husbands and would do anything to keep them safe and away from danger.

Portia consuled Brutus because she thought that he was keeping a lot of secrets from her and she tried to get him to open up. She is very worried about him and is afraid that something is wrong. She said when they were eating dinner he “suddenly arose and walked about, musing and sighing, with your arms crossed”(II, i, 259-260). This shows that she is very observant of her husband and she knows him well enough to know that something is on his mind and it’s not right. When he would not answer what was wrong she became worried about his health because he was looking a little bit healthy. She showed this by saying, “As it hath prevailed on your condition” (II, i, 274). She also tried to charm him to tell him and tried to tell him that he can trust her because she will be forever loyal to him. She told him to “unfold to me, yourself, your half” (II, i, 295). She also accused him of thinking she is too weak to handle his secrets and she has given herself a “voluntary wound” (II, i, 323) to show that if she could handle a cut in the thigh that she gave to herself and bear it than she must be able to handle whatever Brutus’ secrets are. This seems like one of the first signs of feminism, she believe that women are not as weak as everyone think they are so she wanted to prove to him that she is not weak like what everyone think that stereotypical women are like. She actually accused him of being sexist, she was able to convince him to change that thought and change the stereotype of women in his mind. Portia showed Brutus that she can be trusted with his secrets, and he can share everything with her.

Brutus took Portia’s advice to mind and he was very pleased with how much she cared about him. He said, “render me worthy of this honorable wife” (II, i, 327). This shows that he is very impressed with his wife and he believes that she is incredibly noble and honorable. At first he still did not want to tell her what he was hiding because he still had doubts and just wanted her to stop asking him. He was worried that she could not be trusted and that she would not be able to handle everything he has planned. He kept asking her to just go back to their room and just stoping asking him to confess to her. However, when she asked even more he began to change his mind and wonder if she could be trusted after all. Finally, when she showed him that she cut herself so that he would tell her what has been bothering him, he decided to tell her. He said to her, “all my engagements I will construe to thee” (II, i, 331). She successfully convinced him to tell her his secrets, she also successfully influenced him. She helped him to look past genders and to see that females are just as strong and also he should be more trusting of his loving wife. He also showed first signs of feminism and he has agreed that women can be strong too. Brutus now completely trust his wife and will be willing to tell her everything in his plan. Portia is successful at influencing Brutus to tell her what has been bothering him.

The wife of Caesar, Calphurnia, has also tried to influence her husband to stop him from going ot the senate house. She had a dream that someone is going to kill Caesar and she is afraid that if Caesar leave the house that day he will be killed so she tried to convince him to stay in the house for the day. She said that she saw a statue of caesar that “drizzled blood upon the capitol” (II. i. 21). She begged Caesar to not risk it and stay home. She was screaming in her sleep because of her nightmare, Caesar heard her and was a little worried about her. She actually has a special power where her dreams become reality, no one knows it yet but some previous dreams of hers have came true and she was afraid that this one might come true too. No matter how much Caesar tried to tell Calphurnia that it was just a dream she still insisted that it was going to be true and that he was going to be killed if he step out of the house that day. Women at that time is still not very trusted and what they say are usually not taken seriously so Caesar still thinks that she is crazy. This is a gender stereotype like women are all crazy and nothing they say should be taken seriously. Caesar agreed with the gender stereotype and refused to take Calphurnia seriously.

Caesar followed the gender stereotype during that time period and took what Calphurnia said about her dream as a joke. This was shown when Caesar said, “and for thy humor I will stay home” (II, ii, 60). He is taking what she is saying as a joke and wants to amuse her by staying home. Before this no matter how much Calphurnia begged he will not stay, he insisted that she is crazy and that is just a dream and nothing else. He is mostly doing this because she is a woman and women at that time are not taken as serious as men because they are seen as less educated so they have silly thoughts. However, when Mark Antony told him that he should not go out that day he was a bit more convinced because he is a man and men are more educated than women. Caesar also care too much about his pride, because before when Calphurnia was trying to convince him to stay in the house he thought that staying at home would mean that he is a coward and that he is afraid of what is coming and he could not bear the thought of the great Caesar being afraid and a coward. Also later when Decius Brutus came to get him to go to the senate house he at first refused, but when Decius Brutus started flattering Caesar and talking about how great Caesar is and could not possibly be convinced to not step out of the house because of a dream that his wife had Caesar started to become convinced. He did not want to be known as the man who was scared of his wife’s dream because that made him a coward. He had confidence that whatever he should be afraid of would coward when they saw him because he is the great Caesar and he should not be afraid of anything because everything is afraid of him. He was convinced to go to the senate house where he is killed by his best friend and several other people. Calphurnia did not successfully influence Caesar because she did not convince him to stay at their house and the entire time Caesar was not taking Calphurnia seriously. He thought everything Calphurnia said was a joke and for the brief period of time when he was convinced to stay at the house was because Mark Antony advised him not to leave the house. In the end Caesar still went with Decius Brutus and was killed.

The wives of Brutus and Caesar both played a key role in the tragedy and how they acted and how their husbands reacted reflected on the gender stereotypes at that time and some early signs of feminism. Portia was able to successfully influence Brutus by convincing him to tell her his secrets. On the other hand, Calphurnia was not successful in trying to convince Caesar to stay at home and not go with Decius Brutus to the senate house and Caesar was killed.