The Tragedy of Julius Caesar does not focus on Caesar. Although the plot of the story revolves around him, the focus of the story is on his lover, Marcus Brutus. Because of this, Caesar’s character remains an enigma. He envisions himself as an invincible god, however Shakespeare portrays Caesar as a common man with many weaknesses. “The gods do this in shame of cowardice. Caesar should be a beast without a heart if he should stay at home today for fear.
No, Caesar shall not. Danger knows full well that Caesar is more dangerous than he. We are two lions littered in one day, and I the elder and more terrible, and Caesar shall go forth” (p. 75).
These words, spoken by Caesar, show how he thought of himself. He believed that no one would be fool enough to try to bring any harm to him, for he was powerful and godlike. However, this train of thought was what led Caesar to his downfall. Many people thought of Caesar as an egotistical and unyielding man who had the heart of a tyrant and who could be expected to crush any remaining liberties of the Romans under his feet. Most of the time, he spoke about himself in the third person which gives an arrogant feeling of Caesar to the reader. This is shown as Cassius spoke to Casc a about the upcoming conspiracy.
“What trash is Rome, what rubbish and what offal, when it serves for the base matter illuminate so vile a thing as Caesar!” (p. 45).
Caesar was by no means only shown as a foolish man who thought highly of himself. Caesar’s statements about his distrust of Cassius are correct. Caesar has every excuse for distrusting Cassius, who was already plotting his murder. “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much, and such men are dangerous” (p.
Act 3, Scene 1 Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above. [ previous scene ][ home page ][ next scene ]A crowd of people; among them ARTEMIDORUS and the Soothsayer. Flourish. Enter CAESAR, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, CASCA, DECIUS BRUTUS, METELLUS CIMBER, TREBONIUS, CINNA, ANTONY, LEPIDUS, POPILIUS, PUBLIUS, and others CAESAR [To the Soothsayer] The ides of March are come. Soothsayer Ay, Caesar; but ...
Caesar even puts his finger on Cassius’ primary motive, which is envy. Shakespeare gave Caesar human weaknesses to give reality to Caesar as a man. The play could not have shown a high level of tragedy if Caesar had only been portrayed as a man who thought of himself as a god.
So Shakespeare interpreted the conspiracy as a senseless plot formulated by a group of self-seeking nobles and politicians under the leadership of a misguided lover of Caesar. At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 2, Caesar talked to Antony about touching Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, because Calpurnia was sterile and Caesar believed that the touch might have taken the sterility away. “Forget not in your speed, Antonius, to touch Calpurnia; for our elders say the barren, touched in this hold chase, shake off their sterile curse” (p. 15).
That showed another weakness of Caesar’s, however Caesar believed that it was Calpurnia’s imperfection for not being able to have a child. Shakespeare had given Caesar many faults which led to his death. Most of Caesar’s arrogant thoughts were only stepping stones which led to the success of the conspiracy. The most critical of these thoughts and beliefs was Caesar’s thinking that he was invincible. If Caesar had not been influenced by what people thought of him but was concerned about his life, Caesar wouldn’t have fallen victim to the conspiracy.