Breakdown: Act 1 Essay, Research Paper
Scene 1Setting: Opens in Rome in 44 B.C. on February 15 during the Feast of the Lupercal. Shakespeare takes about 3 years of history and makes it all happen in about 6 days.
The purpose of this scene is to set the mood of the play and introduce the main conflict. The mood, is rather violent, and the main conflict is Rome vs. Caesar. In this scene the tribunes, a magistrate who protects the rights of the lower class citizens, Marullus and Flavius were not very kind to the commons. They call them things such as “saucy fellows,” “naughty knave,” and “idle creatures.” The commons smart back at them, which shows them to be very witty. In this scene we learn that Marullus is an excellent orator, public speaker, because he speaks so well and he hadn’t had time to plan this speech, but ut flows so well. This shows us that the higher people will speak in poetry throughout the play, and the commons will be using puns more or less throughout the play. In Marullus’ speech there are three main sections. The first is rhetorical questions to the commons, the second is accusatory tones. In this section he accuses the commons because they were just not long ago cheering for Pompey whom the commons are now cheering on his conqueror. The final section of his speech is a call to repent. After this speech the commons leave and this proves that the commons opinion should not be trusted because they are easily swayed. At the end of this scene we see Flavius and Marullus seperate to tear down decorations celebrating Caesar’s victory.
Scene 2 (Divided into 5 sections)Section 1: Lines 1-24Caesar has a superstitious belief that the winner of the Lupercal race can touch a woman and make her fertile, this shows that he is concerned for his wife’s fertility. In line 12 Antonius states that if Caesar asks anything, the people will do it. A soothsayer shouts to Caesar and he listens showing us that he is willing to listen to the commons and this makes them like him more. The soothsayer, a fortune teller, tells him to “Beware the ides of March.” Caesar dismisses this remark showing that he won’t believe any superstition about harming or bringing danger towards himself.
Section 2 Lines 25-180:Two new characters emerge, Cassius and Brutus. Cassius is a former follower of Pompey and he lacks leadership. Brutus is known to be moral and ethical, he is also a very good fan of Caesar. Both of them are not comfortable with having a king. In lines 119-126 we have a very vivid story of Cassius and Caesar, in this story Cassius saves Caesar from drowning. Cassius plays on Brutus’ self-centerness to make him feel cheated by Caesar.
Section 3 Lines 181-214:Brutus notices an angry look on Caesar’s face. Caesar says that he wants cantent people around him and states that Cassius is dangerous to him because he thinks too much and questions Caesar. Caesar says that he has no fear.
Section 4 Lines 215-294:Here we learn that Caesar has 2 physical weaknesses. These are a deafness in the left ear (line 225) and has epilepsy (line 270). Next we get a second hand version of the race by Casca, who will eventually join the conspiracy. In this account we learn that Caesar put aside the crown 3 times and in his opinion he wanted it, but was just playing the crowd. This is where Casca tells them of his seizure. In lines 290-291 Casca says that Caesar can do anything and the people will still follow him and this is most likely true.
Section 5 Lines 295-End:Casca didn’t understand the Greek in which Cicero was speaking in and we also learn that Marullus and Flavius are either dead of banished, most likely dead. Cassius decides to write letters to Brutus and forge them from important citizens and throw them into Brutus’ window. Cassius’ greatest weapon is flattery.
Scene 3Setting: Night on March 14. There is a terrible storm going on outside. Opens with Casca and Cicero. Cicero is not in the conspiracy and is a senator.
Casca sees 5 bad omens during the storm. They are: 1. Trees being ripped apart and the ocean swelling. 2. Slave has a huge fire on his hand and his hand is unscourched. 3. He met a lion in the middle of town who looked at him and went on. 4. An owl hooting in the middle of the marketplace at noon. 5. Men walking around engulfed in flames. The reason Casca believes these things are happening are 1. The gods are having a civil war. 2. The gods are angry and are coming back to destroy the world. Cicero states that you can make anything to mean whatever you want. The purpose is to find out if Caesar is going to the Capitol on the 15th. Cicero leaves and Cassius enters. Cassius has just been walking around the streets with his shirt open, showing that he is not afraid. In this scene Cassius plays on the weakness of others to get what he wants. In lines 78-81 Caesar is compared to the storm, and in lines 91-94 the intention is known that Caesar is to be king. He is to be king of all Roman territories except for Rome itself. IN line 95 Cassius threatens to kill himself if Caesar becomes king, we know that this is not true because Cassius values his life too much. Cinna comes in, he is a conspirator. Cassius gives Cinna 3 letters to place for Brutus to get. He is to put them in the judges chair, the statue of Brutus, and in Brutus’ window. He is to deliver them and return to Pompey’s Theatre with the rest of the conspirators.
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