Literary Devices in the Play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Authors use literary devices in their story’s and plays for an assortment of reasons. This is also true in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. In the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare a Roman senator named Caesar has risen above the rest and soon will become a king, but a group of conspirators assassinate him to stop the forming of a monarchy. However, their honorable effort to save Rome eventually leads to their own demise. Several literary devices can be seen in Julius Caesar, and they all influence the plot or readers understanding in one way or another.
Foreshadowing is a key figure of speech in the play. We see foreshadowing from the beginning of the play, when the Soothsayer or fortune teller tells Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March” or in other words that Caesar will be assassinated on March fifteenth. Calpurnia Caesar’s wife later dreams of Caesar’s death and informs him, but he does not acknowledge her warning. This not only foreshadows what is going to happen, but it also shows us how Caesar’s status and ego are affecting his decision making and cognitive ability which up until this point had been spot on. Foreshadowing gives us a hint of what is to come, and at what point in the plot the story is.
Foreshadowing is not the only figure of speech used in the play however. Puns are another element noted early on in Julius Caesar. When Marullus addresses the Cobbler responds with a pun. Cobbler is meant to have two meanings in this dialog the first being a shoemaker, and the second being a bungler. The Cobbler refers to himself as a “mender of bad soles,” playing with the word soles. Marullus interprets the Cobbler as a mender of souls. This shows that the senators can still be fooled by the plebeians who were considered far below senators in mind and strength. The occasional usage of puns adds to the story of Julius Caesar by enriching the text with some modest humor as well as adding to character personality.
During Antony’s funeral speech, which is the climax of the play in act III, several figures of speech are used, including repetitive questioning, sarcasm, and essive repetition. Antony frequently uses the reparative questioning of Brutus’s nobility and reasoning in killing Caesar to win over the people of Rome. His repetition of “But Brutus is an honorable man” is used to persuade the people that Brutus has done wrong in killing Caesar. Primarily, Antony’s entire speech makes the people of Rome think if Brutus has really done a good deed? It is this use of multiple figures of speech which earns Antony the respect and loyalty of the people of Rome. This, in turn, shapes the plot later in the play and the fate for the conspirators. This is the leading example of how literary devices influence the plot, characters, and audience in the play.
It is effortless to see that figures of speech not only make a story more thought-provoking and amusing, but also have an explicit effect on the plot of the play. Shakespeare, like any author, uses these figures in his plays. Julius Caesar is an excellent example of these techniques being used.
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