The Tragedy of Julius Caesar While reading one of the greatest works written by Shakespeare Julius Caesar, my sympathies first lay with Caesar. His image was lit up with constancy and greatness throughout the play. His decisions were “constant as the Northern Star”. Even Caesars enemies respected him, for example Cassius compared him with the Colossus saying: “Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about” [4, 1.2.136-138]. In addition, Caesar possessed a strong character: “I rather tell thee what is to be feared / Than what I fear, for always I am Caesar” [4, 1.2.212-213]. I also liked the features of Caesars character which defined him as a prominent leader.
This can be illustrated with the statement of Antony, “When Caesar says ‘Do this’, it is performed”. [4, 1.2.12]. As a ruler of the Republic, Caesar set priority of national under personal issues, saying: “What touches us ourself shall be last served” [4, 3.1.7]. However, at the end of the tragedy my feelings changed in favour of Brutus. I admired Brutus for his open heart, nobleness, honesty. I liked that Brutus was against bribery among Roman noblemen and so he accused one of noble Romans for taking bribes.
“What, shall one of us, / That struck the foremost man of all this world / But for supporting robbers, shall we now / Contaminate our fingers with base bribes” [4, 4.2.73-76] Brutus also had much of self-possession, which I define as a strong point of his character. He demonstrated an example of stoicism when he replied about his wifes death: [it is] “Impatience of my absence” [4, 4.2.204]. The same stoicism helped Brutus together with Cassius calmly and with dignity accept their defeat in the battle against Antony. All in all, to my mind, Brutus fully deserved the words that Antony said about him: “This was the noblest Roman of them all” [4, 5.5.67]. Generally, Shakespeares characters of Caesar, Brutus, and Antony in the play Julius Caesar are realistic, well-depicted and also are full of contradictions that inspired my mixed feelings about them. For example, Caesar made me feel admiration and pity at the same time.
In the play Julius Caesar, the tragedy of the play was directed mainly at a one specific character, Marcus Brutus. Brutus was the tragic hero of the play, because of his idealistic and pragmatic qualities. The mindset that Brutus possessed only allowed him to see the world and its people from one point of view. This point of view allowed him to make judgments that assumed only the best of people. ...
On the one hand he was a firm, self-confident leader who said “always I am Caesar”. On the other hand Caesar was the weak man, who nearly drowned but for Cassius, who saved him. In addition, this man suffered from epilepsy, and could fall down any moment before his citizens presence. Unfortunately, the rudest mistake of Caesar as a politician, as a ruler was that he could not acknowledge his mortal and thus vulnerable and unprotected nature. Later on this Caesars excessive self-assurance caused his deafness to people who loved and cared about him. Both soothsayer and his wife, Calpurnia, tried to warn Caesar about omens, but Caesar dismissed their words and as a result, fall down. The inability of Caesars adequate response to the changing circumstances, the overestimation of his power turned away Brutus from him.
“Et tu, Brute? – Then fall Caesar” [4, 3.1.77] – these words referred to betrayal of Brutus, and further on became symbolic for treachery of a friend. However, even now the point of Brutus betrayal remains a disputable. This act of his, I think, can neither be condemned nor justified. Brutus himself explained his deed by negative changes which occurred in Caesars inner world and in the following relationships between Caesar and Brutus: As Caesar loved me, I weep for him. As he was fortunate, I rejoice at it. As he was valiant, I honor him. But as he was ambitious, I slew him” [4, 3.2.23-25].
By this Brutus implied that he assassinated Caesar in the sake of Rome. Brutus was afraid, that ambitious Caesar would turn the Roman Republic into monarchy. Only this anxiety made Brutus participate in the plot against the ruler. Such noble motif marks out Brutus among the other conspirators. At the end of the play, Antony resumed Brurus life in the following epilogue: “his life was gentle, and the elements / So mixed in him that nature might stand up / And say to all the world ‘This was a man'” [4, 5.5.74]. When Caesar was assassinated, his loyal Antony was the first person to condemn murderers.
... However, Antony then appears to make friends with the conspirators when he addresses them after Caesars death ... who loved Caesar more. Brutus declares that he never wronged Caesar, that he cried for Caesar's love, was ... rule the people. The surface of the play portrays a man who is loyal to ... Antony disproves Caesar's ambition with three examples. One is when he gave the ransom of captives to the public ...
He showed his deep sorrow about Caesars death: “O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth / That I am meek and gentle with these butcher” [4, 3.1.257-258]. But at the same time Antony attempted to use the consequences of that situation in his own favour. I think that Antony can not regarded as a purely positive character in the play. He won the victory over conspirators at the end of Julius Caesar, though his means were not always upright. Throughout the play Antony proved to be cunning, artful, an expert of a psychology of crowd, good public speaker. Antony realized that he could not alone defeat the conspirators, and thus he badly needed devotion and support of Romans. Antony started his speech in the following way : “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” [4, 3.2.70]. He gained the confidence of Romans using repetition and poetry and also saying the words: “You are not wood, you are not stones, but men” [4, 3.2.139].
In the end, Antony managed to turn plebeians into mob and incited it against the conspirators. The revenge of Caesars death was successfully used by Antiny to make himself a political career. When Antony, Octavius and Lepidus were forming a list of those who had to be punished for Caesars death, they included there everybody who could interfere in their plans or oppose them in the future. For instance, the brother of Lipidus was taken as a threaten and possible opposition to Antony and consequently marked as a conspirator and sentenced to death. But later Antony convinced the rest that he would keep him for a while because he needed him. Of course, my feelings did not parallel with the feelings of the crowd in many cases the play. At the beginning of Julius Caesar Shakespeare described common people who intended to celebrate Caesars victory in Pompey.
In Julius Caesar’s will, his grand-nephew, Octavius, was named as his heir and adoptive son. Octavius was related to Caesar through his grandfather, who married a sister of the Roman dictator. As one of the three triumvirs, Octavius is the youngest and the most ambitious of the three. He began his career with little — except the name of his grand-uncle Julius Caesar, his father by adoption, ...
But indeed, sir, we make holiday to see Caesar and rejoice in his triumph. [4, 1.1.34] I did not like, when Antony attempted to incite the public against Brutus and other conspirators. More than that, when the plebeians assassinated the poet, Cinna, because they had taken him for a conspirator, I fully disapproved such actions. They evidence that the public could not stop in its blind revenge for Caesars death and the poet though he was not guilty, he fall a victim of blood-thirsty plebeians. This event shows that public opinion is not always fair but it is very strong and powerful to destroy everything which stands on its way. When the poet cried: “I am Cinna the Poet” [4, 3.3.28], the crowd just changed its charges and killed him for his bad verses. [4, 3.3.29].
I think, that in this way the author of the play to some extend wanted to chastise the crowd for being fickle. The masses were referred by tribunes as blocks and stones and this meant that public may become a docile mass and serve as a powerful weapon in the interests of its leaders. In conclusion I would like to say that the tragedy Julius Caesar is distinguished for its bright, true-to-life characters and their evolution throughout the play. This character evolution makes a reader go through the same feelings, emotions and consequently feel empathy towards the characters. As it was noted above, the characters in the play had their own vices and virtues, flaws and merits. But the characters changed at the end of the tragedy due to the life experience they had acquired.
Thus the reader can learn and adopt those character features which proved to be good, winning, and successful; and get fid of those, which were punished in the play. In other words, emotions and empathy exercised while reading the play increase its educational goals.
Classic Notes on the Tragedy of Julius Caesar. 2003. 14 Feb. 2005 Julius Caesar Characters. Absolute Shakespeare. 2004.
14 Feb. 2005. William Hazlitt. Characters of Shakespear’s Plays. UTEL. January 20, 2002. 14 Feb.
2005 William Shakespeare. Julius Caesar. Bibliomania.com Ltd. 2000. 14 Feb. 2005 .