Julius Caesar Essay, Research Paper
Roseann Mitchell Julius Caesar Essay
March 14, 2000
In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, many themes develop through the course of the play. Superstition, manipulation, and honor are all themes woven throughout the play to aid in the development of characters and plot. Combined, these themes intertwine to advance the action within the play.
Above all, superstition plays the lead role as a theme in the play Julius Caesar. Superstition actually occurs twice in the play starting with Calpurnia’s dream. She dreams that Caesar is made a statue with blood pouring out. The villagers are cleansing their hands and bathing in Caesar’s blood. When Calpurnia awakens, she begs Caesar not to leave the house. She exclaims:
Alas, my lord,
Your wisdom is consumed in confidence.
Do not go forth today. Call it my fear
That keeps you in the house, and not your own.
Act Two. Scene Two. L. 48-51
Calpurnia is quite upset because of the horrible nightmare she encounters. She becomes very superstitious and begs Caesar to stay home because she is so frightened.
Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
Yet now they fright me.
Act Two. Scene Two. L.10-11
The second instance where superstition occurs is when the crows are spotted flying overhead on Brutus and the conspirators’ way to the Battle. The crows flying over their heads is an omen and for tells that something bad is to come.
This morning are they fled away and gone,
And in their steads do ravens, crows, and kites
Fly o’er our heads and downward look on us.
As we were sickly prey. Their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost.
Act Five. Scene One. L. 84-89
The Romans lived their lives by superstition. This event serves as a prelude to the vulture’s death. Superstition, a major motif in the play, is used to foreshadow certain events.
It is important to note that manipulation is also another key theme in the play. Brutus is skeptical about murdering Caesar but is convinced by Cassius and the other conspirators to help them complete the mission. Cassius way of manipulating Brutus is flattery!
Brutus, and Caesar. What should be in that Caesar?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours
Write them together, yours is as fair a name.
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well.
Weigh them, it is as heavy. Conjure with ‘em,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.
Act One. Scene Two. L. 142- 147
Cassius convinces Brutus to turn his back on Caesar by proving to Brutus that Caesar should be as special as everyone else. Cassius proves to that Brutus and Caesar should be equal in power. Manipulation is present once again towards the end of the play when Brutus tries to convince one of his people to sleigh him, but they all decline. So, he talks Strato into fulfilling his wish.
BRUTUS: Hence! I will follow.
I prithee, Strato, stay thou by thy lord.
Thou art a fellow of a good respect,
Thy life hath had some smatch of honor in it.
Hold then my sword, and turn away thy face
While I do run upon it. Wilt thou, Strato?
STRATO: Give me your hand first. Fare you well, my lord.
Act Five. Scene Five. L. 43-49
Strato does as Brutus asks. Brutus is manipulated by the conspirators to give credence to then cause. Obviously, manipulation is a significant theme in the play Julius Caesar.
The last dominant motif is honor. For instance, Brutus honors the city of Rome to such a high degree that he is willing to kill his faithful acquaintance and friend, Caesar, just for the good of the people.
What is it that you would impart me?
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honor in one eye and death I’ the other,
And I will look on both indifferently;
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honor more than I fear death.
Act One. Scene Two. L.84-89
This honor is re-introduced back into the play when Antony finds Brutus’s corpse. He actually honors Brutus for being the only conspirator who kills, not out of envy but out of protection.
This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar.
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the element
So mixed in him that Natore might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man.”
Act Five. Scene 5. L. 69-75
In conclusion, Julius Caesar, written by William Shakespeare, is a play that develops many themes. Superstition, manipulation, and honor are three main motifs that revolve around the plot of the play. Superstition is used to foreshadow many tragic events. Their close friends manipulate many of the characters in the play. Honor is shown through a praiseworthy character named Brutus. These ideas all interlock to progress the actions of the play.