Idealism In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare uses rhetoric, dramatic irony, and the characters of Cassius and Brutus to reveal with vivid strokes how idealism undermines our capacity to comprehend different outcomes and forces us down a path of societal distress.

Idealism limits our capability to think and therefore lowers our potential as human beings. Shakespeare effectively shows this through conversations between Cassius and Brutus. Brutus is the embodiment of idealism because of his patriotism for Rome and his belief in Rome and its people. Cassius on the other hand is cunning and he is able to use this patriotism in that is in Brutus to further his own agenda and specific goals. Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves” This illustrates how simple it was to convince Brutus to kill Caesar. All Cassius needed to do was touch upon Brutus’ ego every so slightly in order to promote thought that showed him a picture of a world where he, Brutus, was ruler and how amazing that world could be for Rome. Cassius also cunningly puts forth the idea that we have control our own fate, if we want something we need to accomplish it ourselves. The fault is not in our stars, suggests that no one is born to rule, we need to earn that right which Caesar has not and Brutus can easily do. Brutus now could not look past this ideal world that he had created in his head and kept comparing it to the one with Caesar. He was debating whether or not to kill Caesar but not once did he reevaluate his position with Cassius that Caesar was ambitious. His ideal world limited the scope of his thinking a ultimately lead him to the killing of Caesar. “Like wrath in death and envy afterwards… Let us be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius.” (61,Shakespeare) Butus’ limited thought process is explicitly shown here as well, he is not able to see beyond the point that it would be wrong to kill Marc Antony simply because he was a close friend of Caesar. He saw that in his ideal world Marc Antony would not have to be killed, instead Antony could play an instrumental part in convincing the Roman people that the killing of Caesar was necessary. But in reality Brutus had been warned multiple times by Cassius that Marc Antony should be killed or at least not allowed to speak. Cassius tries to explain to Brutus that Marc Antony, if allowed to speak to the Roman public, could wreak havoc to an already volatile situation but because of his strong ideals and beliefs Brutus was left unmoved. This vividly illustrates that idealism can seriously hinder our abilities to think forward and significantly decreases our potential as human beings.

Idealism is easily manipulated to further one’s own agenda and self centered views. With the objective of convincing a man to turn his back on his friend, Cassius focuses on two specific strategies. First to prompt Brutus’ sense of civic responsibility and to weaken Brutus’ devotion to Caesar. First, Cassius uses devices such as contradiction and dramatic comparisons. He points out Caesars shortcomings and contrasts him to fellow men, showing no difference between Caesar and ordinary men in comparison. This implies that Caesar is just as likely to become corrupted with power, despite him being treated as a god. One example of this is Cassius’ constant comparing Caesar with Brutus. “ “Brutus” and “Caesar”—what should be in that/ “Caesar”? Why should that name be sounded more than/ yours?”(23). He forces Brutus to question whether such ordinary and weak men deserve to hold such power, well continually flattering Brutus. Once Brutus starts to believe that Caesar doesn’t actually have the kind of power that is implied, he starts thinking that Caesar is actually not fit to lead. In reality Cassius is jealous of Caesar’s power and even the close relationship that Brutus and Caesar have. Cassius always wanted to be part of Caesars inner circle and be part of the process as well, this never actually happened though and Cassius sought revenge in the form of breaking the relationship between Brutus and Caesar as well as seize all of Caesar’s power. Cassius is using Brutus to pursue his personal vendetta and Brutus has fallen into his trap. Cassius is aware that knowing the audience is essential to successfully persuading. When Brutus uses the word honor twice in eight lines, emphasizing the weight he places on honor. Cassius quickly takes advantage of this. “I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,/ As well as I do know your outward favor./ Well, honor is the subject of my story.” He also emphasizes other words that Brutus resonates with, such as “free” and “Rome” as Brutus is a patriot and is willing to do anything for his country. 

Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar”

Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Julius Caesar is really close to having total control by becoming the emperor of Rome. However, when he thinks he is so close to getting away with it, his so called friends (most of them are from the senate) decide to overthrow him, along with Caesar’s best friend, Marcus Brutus, who act as a leader of the conspirators. Though the fall of Caesar from an extremely powerful and respected man to a man who’s been betrayed and stabbed twenty three times in the back and dies is a big step down, however he is not the tragic hero of this ever so tragic play..

Brutus is considered the tragic hero of this play because he was faced with major conflicts, he was stuck between choosing his loyalty to Caesar, or his loyalty to Rome. Brutus decides to stay loyal to Rome because even though his connection with Caesar is strong, his connection with the people of Rome is stronger. After Brutus killed Caesar he goes onto say …Not that I lov’d Caesar less, but that I lov’d Rome more. (3.2.15) This shows that Brutus is willing to do anything for the empire that he is extremely loyal to, even if it means the death of his friend is on his hands. Brutus has support from the people of Rome and does not want them to lose their power because of Caesar. Because people who strongly dislike Caesar (The conspirators and people from the senate) know about Brutus’ loyalty to his empire, they are able to take advantage of him and convince him to go along with their plan to kill Caesar.Brutus chooses to go along with their plan because he believes it is what is best for Rome.

However, some people claim that Caesar is the tragic hero. The reason for this is not the fact that he is the leader (well that might have something to do with it), but people say this because Caesar is of noble stature when Caesar is offered a crown from Antony he refuses it three times while the people of Rome watch, Aye marry was’t, and he put it by thrice, every time gentler than the others, and every putting-by mine honest neighbors shouted (1.2.225). The People of Rome see this as respectful and noble. People also claim this because Caesars downfall was caused by injustice. Brutus still remains the tragic hero. He stayed loyal to his empire no matter the cost, he killed his most trusted friend just so the Roman people could be free. If that does not prove someone is a hero I do not know what will. Brutus also killed himself out of guilt from killing Caesar.

As proven, Brutus is clearly the tragic hero of this play. He was constantly faced with choosing who he has to stay loyal to. He does what he thinks is best for his country therefore making him a hero. Brutus consistently shows his loyalty to Rome and Rome’s people, he wants what is best for them no matter the cost. Maybe next time you read a book you should see who the real tragic hero is. It just might surprise you. It might be the person you least expected it to be.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Literature and the Language Arts

Understanding Literature, e dited by Laurie Skiba, EMC/Paradigm Publishing, 2005, 246-338.

“The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare

In the play “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar”, Antony is viewed as loyal to Caesar and honors his life by giving a speech to all of Rome at his funeral. His task of convincing the Romans that his death is unjustified is complicated by the compelling speech Brutus has just made about why it is justified. Nevertheless, Antony’s speech results in success due to his use of antithesis and gruesome diction.

In his funeral speech, Mark Antony uses antithesis to disprove Brutus’ justification of murdering Caesar. At the funeral, Antony is speaking to the citizens of Rome and reminding them of the good Caesar had accomplished before his death. He reminds them of how “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious” (Shakespeare, 90-94). This quote exemplifies how Caesar empathizes with the people of Rome and genuinely wants to improve their lives. Contrasting this against Brutus’ claim challenges its credibility by providing evidence against it. Antony also states that he “thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he thrice did refuse… Yet Brutus says he was ambitious” (Shakespeare, 95-99). Here, Antony specifies that Caesar refused to be crowned not once, but three times (“thrice”). Turning it down three times shows he denied it willfully, not to appear humble. Many leaders with selfish intentions are careful to hide them and do or say things to appear like they are ruling “for the good of the people.”

A leader like this may say no when first asked to be crowned, in order to maintain their selfless image, but would eventually give in to their craving for power. Having been asked three times and still saying no proves that Caesar genuinely meant it and would do what is in Rome’s best interest, even when the Romans themselves wanted him to be king. Antony shows the invalidity of Brutus’s claim by demonstrating how even when given the opportunity of greater power, Caesar did not take take advantage of it. Though the Romans initially support the assassination of Caesar after hearing Brutus’ speech, Antony is successful in refuting his justification of it and thereby convincing the Romans that Caesar’s murder was unwarranted and tragic.

Antony also utilizes gruesome diction to evoke emotion from the citizens of Rome. He presents vivid descriptions of Caesar’s murder, using phrases such as “ran Cassius’ dagger through” (168-169), “the blood of Caesar followed…rushing” (171-173), and “all the while ran blood” (183). By having such vivid, gory words placed in their minds, the citizens of Rome begin to sympathize with Caesar and thereby become angry about his murder. Later into his speech when announcing he is holding Caesar’s will, Antony says that if he read it aloud, “the commons…would go and kiss Caesar’s dead wounds and dip their napkins in his sacred blood” (128-135). Antony specifically focuses on how the citizens themselves would react if they heard Caesar’s will, which makes Caesar’s death feel like a personal offence to them. He also uses gruesome word choice, which tends to evoke strong emotions such as disturbance and sadness. By using words that bring out these emotions in the Roman citizens, he makes them feel as if they should be sorrowful about his death, and moreover, that anyone who doesn’t feel sorrowful about it is lacking in moral character.

Mark Antony’s speech was effective in persuading the Romans that the conspirators should not have killed Caesar because he confuted any reason they would have to defend it. His impact on the citizens not only changed their view on Caesar’s death, but determined the course of the play and the fate of Rome. If Antony doesn’t given his speech after Brutus gives his, the Romans will continue to support Brutus and the other conspirators, giving them power. However, after hearing Antony speak, they declare mutiny against the conspirators and begin a riot, which starts a civil war. The potential for one speech to be so impactful on a whole city exhibits how words alone can change the course of history.

Concept of Fate In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Fate is inevitable, unavoidable, and ultimately ends in death. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, multiple characters experience a deadly fate, but it is not completely unavoidable. People also have control of their own lives and the ability to make decisions, affecting them and others. Shakespeare uses characters in this play to illustrate the theme of fate and to project how easily it can be tampered with. Fate, as a theme in this play, is involved in many of the characters’ lives. Fate is dependent on a person’s actions.

Julius Caesar is a character who inflicts death upon himself. Caesar ruled in the triumvirate with two powerful men, and when it came crashing down, Caesar was the only one lucky enough to stay alive. He had been involved in the death of another member, Pompey, whom was loved by the Romans: O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey? (1:1:38-39). Caesar is now taking Pompey’s place, and was being celebrated, when he killed the people’s ruler. If Caesar hadn’t been so ambitious for power, he wouldn’t have gone into battle with Pompey and ultimately taken the throne from him. Then, when he is awarded with the power, he turned down the crown three times to seem humble, He put it by thrice, every time gentler than other; and at every putting by mine honest neighbors shouted (1:2:228-230). Most people still applauded him, but others saw his bluff. If Caesar wouldn’t have been as greedy for the power, he would have been alive at the end of the play. The reader sees Caesar’s downfall play out. After killing a respected member of the government and taking over, there is bound to be criticism. The senators begin to turn on Caesar, just like he does against Pompey.

All the senators join to justly plot the murder of Caesar, but they don’t complete it without consequences. Brutus, a well-respected man of Rome, believed in the mission to put Caesar to rest, And therefore think him of a servant’s egg Which hatched, would as his king grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell (2:1:32-34). The conspirators do not feel as though Caesar is trustworthy as a ruler; he did turn on Pompey. The belief is that Rome will be a much better place if Caesar is not part of it. Some conspirators had other reasons, on top of Caesar being selfish and greedy, that led them to participate in killing Julius Caesar. For example, Metellus Cimber, a conspirator, asks Caesar one last time before he dies, to let his brother come back: Is there no voice more worthy than my own, to sound more sweetly in great Caesar’s ear For the repealing of my banished brother? (3:1:49-51). Caesar had banished his brother from Rome prior to the setting of the play and Metellus seems to hold a grudge about it throughout the plot. Caesar is put to death in order to prove a point that Rome and its’ citizens would be better off without a ruler like him. Participating in the murder soon comes back to haunt each conspirator and lead to the formation of their own fates.

The conspirators all face the repercussions for their actions. Brutus allowed Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral. This was a big mistake. He uses sarcasm to address the conspirators as being honorable throughout his speech. By rallying the citizens up, together with Antony they can riot against each of the conspirators. They even go so far as to kill an innocent man with the same name as Cinna, Cinna the poet. A group of citizens carry Cinna the poet off the stage and one can only imagine what they would do to a real conspirator: Tear him! Tear him! (They attack him) Come, brands, ho! To Brutus’, to Cassius’! Burn all! Some to Decius’ house, and some to Casca’s; some to Ligarius’! (3:3:35-38). The people are finally giving all the senators what they believe is just. Brutus should have listened to Cassius and decided not to let Antony speak because now every Roman citizen wants the conspirators dead, and all eventually face that. Brutus could have saved himself by refusing to join in the first place, they all could have. But all of them participated and must deal with the consequences. Before the battle begins, Brutus tells Cassius, But this same day Must end that work the ides of March begun (5:1:112-113). The conspirators completed their mission on the 15th of March, and then their fates were altered. Caesar made decisions and acted in ways that formed his fate; the Conspirators should have seen their death coming.

Life is full of choices, each choice that is made contributes to a person’s fate. Caesar killed Pompey and was a selfish ruler, for his short time in power. The conspirators saw the truth in this and decided to act on Caesar’s bad ruling capabilities. But, by killing Caesar, they too changed their own fates. Any little action made by a person can be remembered and held against them. What someone thinks is unfair or just may not appear that way to everyone. It only takes one small decision to change a person’s fate. Keep in mind every time a decision is going to be made, that people will remember it.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Research Assignment

Queen Elizabeth I: Queen Elizabeth was Queen of England from 1558-1603. The era she reigned in is know as England’s golden age because of the reformation taking place. She had an unpleasant childhood and as a result it affected some of the decisions she made while on the throne.

A few of her more remarkable accomplishments are the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, and the defeat of the great spanish armada. The previous Kings had made many changes in religion, the Elizabethan Religious Settlement was The Queen’s way of bringing the country together. Queen Elizabeth was known for giving amazing speeches. Queen Elizabeth died at the age of 69 years old. Her legacy has lasted longer than she could’ve ever imagined (Elizabeth I). Renaissance England: Renaissance is by definition the rebirth of art, education and culture.

The English Renaissance occurred at the end of the middle ages. The middle ages wa a time of destruction, a learning decline. Girolamo was a religious leader during the renaissance that believed if the citizens of corrupt cities prayed, they could be redeemed. Artist during this period often painted the human body, stressing the beauty of the human body. The most important aspect of the renaissance is humanism. Humanism combines human actions and feelings with religion. The most important branch of learning during the Renaissance was theology. Simply put theology is the study of God (Hawkins).

William Shakespeare: William Shakespeare was born April 26th, 1564 and died April 23rd 1616.

He is considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. Shakespeare wrote many plays, some of the more well known plays are Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Julius Caesar. Shakespeare’s plays were performed in a theatre called the Globe Theatre. The Globe burned down in 1613, and was rebuilt by 1614. Shakespeare was also apart of a company called Lord Chamberlain’s Men (William). Lord Chamberlain’s men put on several plays, and often times Queen Elizabeth herself would come to watch. Lord Chamberlain’s men was the most dominant theatre company in England during the Elizabethan era (Lord).

ROME: Julius Caesar: Julius Caesar was born July 12th 100 BCE and died March 14th 44 BCE. He was alive during the time the Roman Empire was in power. He was from a Patrician, or upper class family. He rose to power as part of a triumvirate, but Crassus was killed in battle and he defeated Pompey in a series of civil wars. Julius Caesar declared himself a dictator for life. While he was in power he passed many law and changed policies on issues such as tax collection. Julius Caesar was murdered by Roman Senators. In that time period emperor assassinations were common and expected (Julius). Ancient Rome Rule: Before the Romans took power, the Etruscans were in control. In 509 BCE the Romans overthrew the Etruscans and established the Roman Republic. In the Republic citizens elect officials, then the officials vote. The Roman Republic lasted until 27 BC when the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire. The first triumvirate that was in power was Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey. Crassus was killed in battle, Pompey was killed by Julius Caesar in a series of civil wars, and Caesar was murdered by a group of Roman senators.

After the murder of Caesar, Octavian, Julius Caesar’s heir, rose to power. He was apart of the second triumvirate which consisted of him, Marc Antony and Lepidus. The second triumvirate split up because Lepidus was exiled, then it was a power struggle between Marc Antony and Octavian (Ancient). Religion/Superstitions: The legendary founders of Rome were Remus and Romulus. Remus and Romulus were supposed to be drowned in the Tiber River, but they survived. Faustulus and his wife saved them and raised them to be strong boys. They ended up killing Amulius and giving their grandfather his throne back. Romulus killed his brother when he attempted to jump over his wall. Romulus now had all the power, he grew his city by allowing criminals to come and live there. He also kidnapped Women and forced them to marry in. Many people believed Romulus was a Gd after he disappeared in a storm ( Romulus). Lupercalia was a festival held each year on February 15th. It celebrated Romulus and Remus, as well as fertility (Luperalia).

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