Essay, Research Paper
In the play “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare, women play an important role. The women are important factors in foreshadowing and in the development of many of the characters. To look at the role of women in the play we must look deeper in to the roles of the only two women in the play; Calpurnia, wife of Caesar, and Portia, wife of Brutus. Both of these women are key in foreshadowing the murder of Caesar. After Caesar’s murder we do not hear much of either of them.
The main thing Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia does in the play is tell Caesar to stay at home on the day of his murder because of many unnatural events that have taken place the night before and because she has had nightmares about his assassination. On the morning of the ides of march is the first time we meet Calpurnia, her entrance is act 2 scene one when she tells Caesar “You shall not stir out of your house today.” Caesar decides he shall “forth” until Calpurnia tells him why he shouldn’t go to the capitol today. Some of the reasons she included were:
? A lioness “whelped” in the streets.
? Graves opened and showed their dead people.
? Warriors of fire fought on the clouds and drizzled blood upon the capitol.
? Horses neighed and dead men groaned.
? Ghosts shrieked in the streets.
She than showed her discomfort with these things by saying ”O Caesar, these things are beyond all use, / and I do fear them.” Caesar says these are just as much to him as to the world in general, but Calpurnia insists that when beggars die nothing happens, but when princes die the heavens are ablaze. Caesar says that cowards die many times before their death and death will come when it will come. Then Caesar asked a servant what the augurers say about the subject and they say they found no heart within the beast. This is a simple act of showing how superstitious Caesar is sends him in to a rage and he decides he will go to the capitol. Then Calpurnia (the voice of reason) says “your wisdom is consumed in confidence” and tells him to tell them it is her fear and not his own that keeps him from the capitol. And Caesar grudgingly agrees. Then Decius Brutus comes in and ruins the whole thing by telling Caesar that her dream was telling how great he is and Decius manages to flatter Caesar enough that he decides to go to the capitol and he tells Calpurnia how foolish her dreams seem now and he leaves. Calpurnia, as we know was right the whole time and Caesar gets assassinated at the capitol. This scene was important in foreshadowing Caesar’s death and showing how overconfident Caesar is, and although Calpurnia’s warning was only one of many she seems to be the only warning with real impact, that is until Decius Brutus comes in to play.
Portia, wife of Brutus has he her first appearance in act 2 scene 1, when she awakens to find Brutus very stressed out. She asked why and he said he is sick, she tells him that being outside will only make it worse. She tells him how concerned she is with his ways and kneels and tells him how faithful she had been. He tells he “kneel not gentle Portia.” And she replies, “I should not kneel if you were gentle Brutus” than she tells him that he should tell hr his troubles because she is his wife. She shows how
strong willed she is by reminding him of how she stabbed herself in the leg and she says “can I bear that with patience / and not my husband’s secrets?” Brutus says “o ye gods / render me worthy of this noble wife!” Then he promises to tell her later on because someone knocks at the door.
Then, in scene 4 of act 2 Portia sends Lucius to the senate to see how Brutus is doing, she is very nervous and she tells Lucius to just tell him she is well and see what he says in return. Then she meets the soothsayer and asks him about Caesar and if anything is planned against him and the soothsayer says yes but he doesn’t know what. She gets very
agitated and says “ay how weak a thing / the heart of a woman is!
That is the last we hear of Portia until act 4 scene 3, when Brutus tells Cassius that Portia has killed herself by “swallowing fire.” He tells Cassius that “no man bears better sorrow.” It is in this way that Portia develops Brutus’ character, Foreshadows the Assassination, and Shows the severity of the results of the assassination.
Both of these two women show strong character and if they had been sucessful in convincing their husbnds not to go to the capitol that day there would be no story to tell. Without the women we would not get to know the main characters and their reasons for doing what they did. But they were not successful and that is only another twist in this tragic story.