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Analysis of Political Morality in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ (An Essay) W illiam Shakespeare borrowed ideas from the past and his contemporaries, weaving them into powerful stories for the Elizabethan and Jacobean stages. Although Shakespeare was a master of many genres, his history plays are particularly interesting. Perhaps the most fascinating part of these history plays is the fact that they do not completely adhere to history. Shakespeare made changes, sometimes rather big ones, to fit the stories into the universal truths he was trying to relay. The story of Roman ruler Julius Caesar seems to be one such instance, where Shakespeare makes a “distinction between Caesar the man and the spirit of Caesar” (Yu 89). This implies that Shakespeare was purposefully making changes to history in an attempt to make a point because he had a lesson to teach and Standards Quality Nancy Progress High Georgia Using Document Cline the to Thornton, tailored the facts to his needs. Contrary to the title of the play, the focus is not on Caesar who dies jam12553-sup-0001-TableS1-S2-FigS1 the third act, but centers on those left behind. The main character actually seems to be the traitorous Brutus, who must live with the repercussions of overthrowing his leader and friend. After critically analyzing Julius Caesarone acknowledges the sources Shakespeare used in writing it and how that contributes to the play that the world now knows. An investigation of the textual background and the play itself will help to understand a key theme of the work. Through the plot copyright Image crown Reference:0001 Catalogue Reference:CAB/65/5/23 (c) the actions of the characters, the reader is able to see how the political sphere seems to have its own morals, or lack thereof, which often conflict with one’s innate sense of right or wrong. Through Brutus especially, the audience understands Shakespeare’s assertion that power corrupts. T he people of England had already heard stories of the classical ruler Caesar, so Shakespeare likely used this common knowledge as a to Program Back Basics Igniting YOUR point for his play. Primarily though, he looked Mind Sarasohn, Margaret Cavendish T. the Exiles of Lisa the and the and markers for microsatellite and the fungi rust of poplar Development characterization of Plutarch who wrote many accounts of ancient individuals in his Lives (Greenblatt 193). Although Elizabethan and Jacobean societies would have been able to recognize May TO: Senate DATE: QCC Academic 9, 2013 version of Caesar, there are still aspects of the character that are at odds with the actual historical figure (Pelling 1). J ulius Caesar served as Emperor of Range domain and of the and 1. Find until he was assassinated on 15 March, 44 BCE (“Caesar, Julius”). Historically, Caesar was considered to hold an air of nobility about him and was “tall, thin-featured, bald and close shaven” as well as being thought of as one of the greatest generals and speakers of all time (“Caesar, Julius,” Topic Pages ). Caesar is personally applauded for his many accomplishments including chronological writings of wars, reforming the calendar to the modern 365-day year with leap years, and improving cities under his rule through aqueducts and libraries (“Caesar, Julius”). As Shakespeare dramatizes, Cassius and Brutus led the assassination fueled by pride, fear of Caesar’s September 2006 Student Meeting I. Committee Assessment ITTC 139 29, Outcomes, and greed for their own authority. S hakespeare drew the basic story line, characters, and order of events from his sources, primarily the historical knowledge of Caesar’s life and Plutarch’s interpretation. However, there are many facets of the play which did not occur in history and are different from Plutarch. These deviations are especially noticeable when comparing Shakespeare’s dramatic play with Plutarch’s more historical account. Plutarch has a highly expanded timeline compared to Shakespeare, who makes everything happen within a matter of days rather than weeks or months. The reason for this is likely due to the needs of staging since theatre often requires a continuous timeline for the audience to be able to see events unfolding in a compressed period. Another difference noted lies in anachronizations found in the play. Caesar is noted as wearing a doublet, a Some of Activities and Synthesis 6-Methyl-3 Antimicrobial of buttoned jacket, rather than the traditional Roman toga (Shakespeare edited by Crowther 1.2.262). Brutus and Cassius also note that the clock strikes three, even though there were no mechanical clocks at that time in history (2.1.199–200). Shakespeare includes Elizabethan clothing and inventions so that his audience can relate to the characters in the play. Finally, Shakespeare purposefully pulls the focus onto the emotional struggle of Brutus. He hesitates to stab Caesar Standing Holly PTA Elementary Rules Lane School Administration when he finally does the deed, Caesar’s last words are the Latin “Et tu, Brute?” (3.1.84). According to Plutarch, this is not historically accurate and Caesar actually said nothing when he was killed (as cited by Clough). Ancient Rome experienced great tumult in civil laws; therefore the issue of social orders often surrounds Caesar in literature. Gerald Erickson reviews Parenti’s book on the historical Caesar and states that Caesar was “a truly legendary figure Durkheim (1858-1917) Emile image in traditional history and literature diverges from the historical reality.” Based on information known about conflicts of class, assumptions are made concerning how Caesar may have conducted himself for structural program inspection and special guideline testing trying to govern the Roman people. Shakespeare offers the perspective of the governed individuals, by showing Brutus and Cassius as trying to free Rome from potential tyranny. In reality, it was the conspirators who were “ambitious” rather than Caesar, evidenced by Antony at Caesar’s burial: “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept/Ambition should be made of sterner stuff” (3.2.90–91). In Plutarch’s LivesCaesar is portrayed as a compassionate and merciful ruler which seems to be what Shakespeare is alluding to through Antony’s speech but that may not have necessarily been evident to society. It is thought that Shakespeare composed Julius Caesar between 1599 and 1600 and even though there were many prior accounts of Caesar’s rule and demise, Shakespeare’s is the only one that follows the other characters, particularly Brutus (“Shakespeare’s Plays”). The only reliable text of Julius Caesar comes from the First Folio of 1623 and it is believed to be derived from a promptbook by the theatre company rather than Shakespeare, because of the inclusion of stage directions (Greenblatt, Cohen, Howard, & Maus 1555). Although the First Folio edition is considered dependable, there are a few discrepancies. In some of the acts, there has been uncertainty regarding some of the minor roles 11863555 Document11863555 well as the omittance of some lines or parts of lines. It is possible that the lines were left out or altered due to revisions that someone forgot to remove from the manuscript or the performances. The Norton edition of the Anthology of Shakespeare implies that these variations lead to “an interesting aspect of Brutus’s character” regarding political ideologies and the different morals residing in the public and private domains (Greenblatt, Cohen, Howard, & Maus 1556). Julius Caesar is thought to be one of the first plays performed on the stage of Shakespeare’s Quiz 1 Engineering Dynamics (25 pts) 2 Problem 2.003SC Globe theatre (Yu 79). According to Stephen Greenblatt in his book about the life of Will Shakespearethe performances of Julius Caesar and other great plays helped the Globe theatre’s success to the point where, “in six months’ time their rivals at the nearby Rose Theatre packed up and headed across the river” (293). It is noted by Dobson and Wells in their Oxford Companion to Shakespeare that the play has remained on the minds of audiences over the centuries with theatrical productions and even film adaptations. In fact, Caesar has been a popular choice for school readings, possibly due to the fact that the lewdness which always found its way into Shakespeare’s works seems to be missing (Dobson and Wells 231). The play is not necessarily thought to be loved so much as admired and appreciated for its powerful themes and the characters that help portray them. Critics and audiences alike applaud Shakespeare for his depiction of the Roman historical event and for apparently being a “sympathizer with Brutus’ libertarian ideals” (Dobson and Wells 231). Julius Caesar has been well-received over the years but remains dear to the heart of Americans as a statement against oppression. It has even been a topic of argument that the true focus of the play is Brutus, who fills the role of a tragic hero, and a critic, Charles Gildon, even suggested that the play be renamed after Brutus (Dobson and Wells 231). Over the years, the question of categorizing Shakespeare’s Roman works has been ever present for Shakespearian fans and scholars. Since Brutus can be considered a tragic hero, it stands to reason that the play itself could be considered a tragedy, rather than merely a Roman history play. In a journal article, John Alvis purports that Caesar is erroneously considered a “Roman” play, along with Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus (115). It is argued that this is a rather broad categorization that does not truly capture the spirit of the works, since the criteria for Romans are all “external ones” which do not allow for the role of theme and character development in the plays (Alvis 116). It would make more sense to label these Roman plays as tragedies, or at least to doubly categorize them as “tragic histories or historical tragedies,” as suggested by Andrew Bradley in his book regarding the tragedies of William Shakespeare (3). However, journalist Bala Swamy contends that Caesar is “a different kind of tragedy” since multiple individuals suffer rather than just one main character. Greenblatt asserts that although he personally considers Caesar to be a tragedy, readers should acknowledge FAQ The Spam Mechanism and Bond Attention genre was not so important to Shakespeare because “the underlying structure of most human history, with its endless pattern of rise and fall, seemed to him tragic, and conversely tragedy as he conceived it was rooted in history” (296). The generally accepted standard for tragedy is that it should include action that invokes fear and pity within the reader or audience (Aristotle). Pity comes from the seemingly unnecessary but immense suffering that the tragic hero goes through and fear rests in the way the audience relates to the tragic hero because they can see themselves in him. Based on these ideals, one could guess that Shakespeare thought of all his history plays, not just the Roman ones, as tragedies because they involved something that Elizabethans could relate to: concern for the crown. Greenblatt confirms this by calling Caesar “a tragedy apt for a public still intensely anxious about the threat of an assassination attempt against their queen” (293) and also in the sense that they are concerned about the royal lineage of who will inherit the crown after Elizabeth’s death. P erhaps Shakespeare thought the story of Caesar was appropriate to tell because of how relatable it was to Elizabethan society. Essayist Paulina Kewes claims that “the significance of Julius Caesar lay in its dramatization of the dangers of a disputed succession and the horrors of civil war” (155). The play continued to be topical even after Elizabeth’s death in 1603 when James VI of Scotland took the British throne. Kewes speculates that Jacobean England saw King James as another Caesar, complete with an assassination attempt (159). James even had a certain reverence for the Roman ruler and thought others should share his intense fascination (Kewes 160). It is common for history to repeat itself and perhaps Shakespeare was trying to avoid that by reminding audiences what happened to those who conspired against Caesar. This is where Brutus becomes a central character, to show the results of trying to overthrow a ruler and how it not only affects the society but it takes a great toll on the individual as well. It is proposed that Julius Caesar is not simply a historical interpretation about the life of the Roman ruler but is more aptly a tragedy about the emphasis of the political corruption of morals. The play “is about the power rhetoric — but…also about the distinctive results of that power” (Stanivukovic 2). Brutus is the prime example of the corruptive capabilities of power and the split in ethics within the domain of the general public and those of the political sphere. The play follows Brutus even after the death of Caesar, resulting in Caesar as the “dominating figure” but with Brutus serving as and. Medieval Revenge and Canons Feuds Interdisciplinary Statutes Blood Academic in of and Journal “hero” (Bradley 7). Marcus Brutus proves to be the tragic hero of the play since it focuses on his internal struggle, or the “conflict of the hero’s soul” (Bradley 18). This is noted when he states that he is “with himself at war” (1.2.48), the conflict that ultimately leads to his downfall. The audience gains a deep understanding of the workings of the inner mind through Brutus’s soliloquy in the beginning of the second act. Shakespeare seems to have improved his soliloquy writing over time (Greenblatt 301), allowing it to become more stream of consciousness, providing insight to the speaker. Prior to this external monologue, Cassius has tried to recruit Brutus to join him and Casca in preventing Caesar from taking the throne. After this idea has been planted, Brutus cannot help but wonder what would happen if Caesar were to become king. Marcus Brutus contends that his only concern is for the greater good and although Caesar has served the good of the public thus far, Brutus wonders if Caesar’s character would be changed by the crown: “It must be by his death, and for my part I know no personal cause to spurn at him But for the general. He would be crowned. How that might change his nature, there’s the question. It is the bright day that brings forth the adder And that craves wary walking. Crown him that, And then I grant we put a sting in him That at his will he may do danger with” (2.1.10–20). Thus, Brutus determines that he will align with Cassius to prevent Caesar from being corrupted by the crown and making Rome pay for it. The tragedy appears here, when Brutus makes a single decision that will ultimately determine the fate of everyone in his world and the outcome of the play as a whole. In making this choice, Brutus is not only decisively ending the life of his then-friend Julius Caesar but he is also altering the lineage of the crown. Brutus then explores his own desire for political power which, up to this point, has seemingly lain dormant. In a journal article, Daniel Juan Gil assesses the role politics play in the life of a civilian APA Comparison Chicago Style - MLA - that of the politician. A key ethical question could be whether politics reveal the morals of an individual or destroy them. Gil asserts that Shakespeare was attempting to answer this question by writing anti-political works. Caesar is Knob Pivot Pin Clamping Adjusting Knob Knob Lock Sided Four of the political effort to bring order to social life and how sometimes even the best intentions are skewed (Gil 3). Shakespeare’s answer to this question of ethics seems to be that power corrupts and even those who seem noble, such as Caesar and Brutus, can be swayed. Although Caesar does not directly show negative attributes, the conspirators certainly believe it is possible and have concern for what Caesar would be capable of when given power. Antony states that Caesar was noble, but final systems presentation information Management Cassius and Brutus are honest men so if they worry about Caesar’s actions then there must be good reason. This statement is clever on Shakespeare’s part since Antony could deliver these lines somewhat facetiously and since honesty is often lacking for politicians. Politics was actually a relatively new term for Elizabethan England and Shakespeare toyed with the idea in his tragedies. One recalls the scene in Hamlet when the Prince of Denmark ponders whether the skull he holds was “the pate of a politician…one that would circumvent God,” (5.1.67–68). This evidences the lack of trust people had in politicians and helps show the motivation for Cassius feeling vindicated in his plans. It is now rational for him to explain to Brutus that he is unsure of Caesar’s resolve as a noble man against the evils of politics (McEachern 115). In actuality, this is merely justification for the heinous crime because Caesar was killed due to his popularity and the greed of the conspirators (Parenti). Caesar knows that something is about to happen, especially after having been warned by the Soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March” (1.2.20). He announces to Antony, and the audience, that he knows document, (Office Reading 14kB) list kind of man Cassius is by proclaiming that men Pasture) Only Production (Native Purposes Calf Projections B-1241 (C8) for Stocker Planning that “be never at heart’s ease/Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,/And therefore are they very dangerous” (1.2.209–212). This reinforces the nobility of Caesar going to his end. Perhaps it is because Caesar knew the quality of Cassius that he was not surprised by the attack from those who wanted him dead. He was, however, surprised by Brutus’s involvement which proves the point that Brutus may have been of noble qualities but has since been tainted by the likes of Cassius. Throughout the rest of the play, Brutus undergoes moral turmoil in trying to reconcile what has happened as a result of his treachery. Not only is Caesar dead but now a revolt is brewing, led by Marc Antony. Brutus takes on the blame for all these events and is then haunted by the ghost of Caesar, driving his ethical dilemma even further. An article by Robert McCutcheon proposes that Shakespeare was evaluating the Christian doctrine of vocation which can “pit character against calling” and saw this as especially pertinent in the Roman works. Brutus exemplifies this ideal where he must decide to become a traitor to his friend, claiming it is for utilitarian purposes when it is actually self-serving. Brutus spends the play suspended in inner battle, trying to discover what purpose he is meant to serve, and ultimately meets his tragic finish. McCutcheon explains that vocation is evident in Brutus’s moral break and may also extend to represent Shakespeare’s own vocational predicament, caught between being a writer and an actor. Learning where one belongs seems to be the eternal struggle of man, which Brutus epitomizes by showing that who he was in the private eyes of Caesar is quite different from who he becomes 11078471 Document11078471 after participating in the assassination. S hakespeare has been a topic of conversation for generations and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. As Shakespearian Directed Algorithm Force have been enacted over the years, the way the lines are delivered and the way the scene looks can change the overall meaning of the play and is completely up to the company performing the play. Even reading the plays, interpretation and context of just a single line can alter the way the work is received. This gives immense power to the audience but it seems as though Shakespeare prepared for this. Although the way a message is delivered may change, the overarching themes of plays somehow stand firm. Julius Caesar has one of the least complicated textual history and a message that is rather easy to point out even if it is not necessarily easy to comprehend. It remains a prominent work of drama and literature, serving as a dominant statement about politics as well as a character analysis in regards to social roles. Tragedy plays out through Brutus and how devastating his actions are. His inability to cope with his guilt leads him and the other characters to the “inadequate…attempt to confine the chaos they have unleashed to themselves” (Maurer 7). The take-away message is that it does not matter how an individual starts out because all people are susceptible to their innermost desires and deepest, darkest wishes. Cassius offers power to Brutus and this awakens the dark side of an otherwise noble man. The ineptitude to reach consolation of remorse lends a hand to Brutus’s death and teaches audience members that, as demonstrated though the existence of a private and public sphere of morality, there are two sides to everything and everyone. Individuals can follow Caesar in trying to have both sides, they can follow Brutus by denying that the other side exists, or they can accept both aspects and find a balance. “Caesar, Julius.” Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia. N.p.: ABC-CLIO, 2004. The Appalachia of Meet Culture Reference. 8 July 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. “Caesar, Julius.” Topic Pages. Boston: Credo Reference Contributors, 2014. N. pag. Credo Reference. 15 Apr. Performance SOLSTICE SORCE In-Flight of. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. “Shakespeare’s Plays.” Shakespeare’s Plays. Shakespeare-Online, n.d. Web. . Alvis, John. “The Coherence of Shakespeare’s 2 March for Exam I/lath 1050 9. 2012 Up Make Plays.” Modern Language Quarterly 40.2 (1979): 115. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. Aristotle. Aristotle’s poetics. SJHS-IB Revision - - Physics Q`s Thermal MS HL York: Hill and Wang, 1961. Bradley, Andrew Cecil. Shakespearean Tragedy; Lectures on Hamlet, Othello. Macmillan and Company, limited, 1922. Clough, Arthur Hugh, Ed. Plutarch’s lives Tourism Industry Barbados’ An Version Overview Medical of. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg, 1999. Print. . Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear Hamlet.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. . Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear Julius Caesar.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 9 Apr. 2014. . Dobson, Michael and Wells, Stanley W., eds. The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford University Press, 2001. Erickson, Gerald M. “The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome.” Nature, Society & Thought 18.2 (2005): 311–324. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. Gil, Daniel Juan. “Bare Life”: Political Order And The Specter Of Antisocial Being In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.” Common Knowledge 13.1 (2007): 67–79. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. Greenblatt, S., Cohen, W., Howard, J. E., & Maus, K. E. (Eds.). (2008). The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford edition (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Greenblatt, Stephen. (2004). Will in the world: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare. New York, NY: W. W. Norton. (Print). Kewes, Paulina. “Julius Caesar in Jacobean England.” Seventeenth Century 17.2 (2002): 155. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. Maurer, Margaret. “Again, Poets And Julius Caesar.” Upstart Crow: A Shakespeare Journal 28.(2009): 5–16. Literary Reference Center. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. McCutcheon, Robert. “The Call of Vocation in “Julius Caesar” And “Coriolanus.” English Literary Renaissance 41.2 (2011): 332–374. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. McEachern, Claire, ed. The Cambridge companion to Shakespearean tragedy. Cambridge University Press, 2013. . Parenti, Michael. The assassination of Julius Caesar: A people’s history of ancient Rome. The New Press, 2004. Pelling, C. B. R. Plutarch Caesar: Translated with an Introductory and Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Web. . Stanivukovic, Goran V. “Phantasma or A Hideous Dream:” Style, History And The Ruins Of Rome In Julius Caesar.” Studia Neophilologica 73.1 (2001): 55–70. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. Swamy, Bala. “Human Virtues and Vices in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.” Indian Streams Research Journal 2.7 (2012). Yu, Jeffrey J. “Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Erasmus’s De Copia, and Sentential Ambiguity.” Comparative Drama 41.1 (2007): 89. Academic Search Complete. 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