Julius Caesar And Superstitions Essay Research Paper

Julius Caesar And Superstitions Essay, Research Paper

Superstitions are thought to be irrational, and resulting from either ignorance,

or fear of the unknown. Some believe that superstitions can take control of

their life, for instance, if a black cat crosses you?re path, you will have

bad luck. Most regard this as folklore and witchcraft. In the play Julius Caesar

by William Shakespeare, superstitions took hold and played an important part of

many people?s lives. The characters believed that they were getting a vision

into their future. Each character dealt with the superstition differently, some

feared them, and some disbelieved them. These superstitions not only gave the

characters, but also the audience quick looks at what is to come. They are

important, and help shape the way the play was performed, and interpreted. The

first superstition, which was clearly visible, is the soothsayer, who in the

first act tells Caesar beware the ides of March. This is a superstition, because

it is irrational, and it comes from a situation of high risk, and involves

influences, which are unseen. This also shows Caesar?s arrogance, its not just

that he is not superstitious, but he also does not even let the soothsayer

explain himself. He laughs at the soothsayer, and says ?he is a dreamer, let

us leave him, pass.? The soothsayer is warning him of his own death date, and

he laughs at him. He does not believe in superstition, and this is clear by his

reaction, many others in his situation would be fearful of the ides of March,

from the warning and omen, he got. Caesar believes he is more powerful then

destiny, and that he will have nothing to worry about. Caesar?s arrogance cost

him his life, and showed that superstitions sometimes do come true. The next

superstition occurred the day of his death. Calpurina urges Caesar not to go to

senate today. She tells Caesar of the horrible dream she had, the night before

the ides of March. Caesar recalls the dream to the other men. ?The cause is in

my will. I will not come. That is enough to satisfy the senate. But for you?re

private satisfaction, because I love you, I will let you know. Calpurnia here,

my wife stays me out home. She dreamt tonite she saw my statue, which like a

fountain with an hundred spouts, did run pure blood; and many lust Romans came

smiling and did bathe their hands in it. And these does she apply for warnings

and portents and evils imminent, and on her knee hath begged that I stay at home

today?(Shakespeare, 79-81) Caesar just recalled and foreshadowed his own

death, and yet he still leaves for the senate. Caesar?s arrogance is again

showed. He does not believe in fortune telling, or superstitions, although

everything is warning him of the upcoming danger he is about to face. His wife

however, is the opposite of him, in that she is very superstitious, she fears

her dream, and fears for her husband. There was also another warning Caesar

received. When several men killed a beast, in the streets, they slaughtered him,

and found no heart. This slaughtering of the beast was also a superstition, for

the men believed they could use the beast to determine, if there would be danger

today. This is an excellent example of a superstition, since it something to us

that seems irrational, but to superstitious people, they would believe that a

beast could foretell the future. Everyone, other then Caesar, and in the

audience, could clearly see that he should have not left his home that day, but

Caesar believed he was smarter then any omen, or superstition. This was his

ultimate down fall. The other superstition that played part in this play, was

when Brutus was confronted with the ghost of Caesar, before he entered battle.

This superstition foretells of his own down fall. The ghost comes to him, as he

is sitting up reading in his tent. ?Ha, who comes here- I think it is the

weakness of mine eyes that shapes this monstrous apparition. It comes upon

me-Art thou any thing? Art thou some god, some angel or some devil, that makest

my blood cold and my hair to stare? Speak to what thou art.? ?Thy, evil

spirit, Brutus? ?why com?st thou?? ?To tell the thou shall see me at

Phillippi? ? Well, then I shall see thee again?? ?Ay, at

Philippi?(171-173) This is Brutus?s superstition, about going into battle.

He is fearful of death, and of Caesar. He knew that the ghost was an omen of his

ultimate downfall, however he does not want to be regarded as a fearful or

superstitious person, so he chose to ignore the omen The superstitions about

dates, and events play a more important role, then apparent in this play. They

give dilemma, and drama to the play. They also reveal many important character

traits. They can save one?s life, or take it. It is all in the person?s

hands how they interpret the superstition. Many people in Brutus or

Calpurnia?s position would not believe that a beast, dream, or ghost could

foretell the future. This is what makes them superstitions. In some cases though

they were more then just superstitions, since they came true. The omens these

characters received might have seemed supernatural, or impossible, but for many

people, they rely upon superstitions, and omens to make decisions. Superstitions

are really left up to interpretation, for example, When Caesar told of

Calpurnia?s superstition, about her dream, the other men interpreted in as

that, the Romans, were flourishing in Caesar?s blood and prosperity. Caesar

found superstitions, ridiculous and mocked them. Its really all in how, the

person understands the situation, and how they react to it, this is what

determines what a superstition is, and its importance. In this play, the

superstitions were very important.


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