Difference Between Plutarchs And Shakespeares Julius Caesar

Essay, Research Paper

Plutarch’s and Shakespeare’s Caesar

Julius Caesar was in a precarious situation. It could be interpreted that he

deserved the fate that pursued him for ambition or some other reason, or that it

was a cold murder for which he did not deserve. Both Shakespeare and Plutarch

wrote about Julius Caesar. Each tells the story a little differently. Plutarchs version

is more sympathetic to Caear’s situation.

Shakespeare shows him to be an insensitive and conceited person thinking

only of himself. This is shown by his reaction to Calpurnia’s dream. After her

description of her dream he says, “Caesar shall forth. The things that threatened

me Ne’er looked but on my back; when they shall see the face of Caesar, they are

vanished.” This attitude to a warning implying that he was given fair warning and

his death was partially due to his over confidence. On the other hand Plutarch

gives him a more sensitive reaction to the dream in saying, “Caesar himself, it

seems was affected and by no means easy in his mind.”

Moreover, Plutarch’s writings show the long string of coincidences almost

as Fate were deeming it necessary for him to die, and that he had no control over

it. “…the scene of the final struggle and of the assassination made it perfectly clear

that some heavenly power was involved…directing that it” (the assassination)

“should take place just here. For here stood a statue of Pompey…” This stating

that Caesar’s murder was the deceased Pompey’s revenge for he was killed by

Caesar. Whereas, Shakespeare does not say anything about the statue and

shows the same coincidences in the play as warnings to him that out of his own

stupidity he did not take.

Lastly, after Caesar’s death the Romans were enraged to revenge him at

the sight of his body and out of their love for him, in Plutarch’s writing. In

Shakespeare’s the Roman were enraged but quelled by Brutus’ speech and

enraged again by Antony’s. This showing the Roman to be mindless, moved only

by a good speech and not by their feelings for Caesar. This again showing

Plutarch’s writing to be more sympathetic to Caesar than Shakespear’s.


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