Despite the Roman setting the themes and issues of Julius Caesar would have been relevant to the England of Shakespeare’s time in a number of ways.
Until Caesar’s time Rome was ruled as a republic. This meant that the city was ruled by a senate, which was similar to a council which was made up of only the noblest of people. This may be why Brutus thought that he could get away with the murder of Caesar.
Caesar wanted too much power , he was good friends with “Pompey the great” and a noble man who ruled over the senate. Because Caesar wanted as much power as possible he got rid of Pompey so that he could take over and rule on his own. This wasn’t a very good idea because it could have led to civil war.
Murellus: “Wherefore rejoice?……………. That needs must light on this ingratitude.”
Here we see how some of the public were opposed to the idea of Caesar killing Pompey and taking over his position. But they weren’t willing to take there opinions any further but if they had it may of led to a civil war. Shakespeare wrote this play in much the same way he had wrote his other plays to put across a certain point, the point in this play was to the people of his time that if you got rid of a person in power who ruled over people, it could lead to civil war. You could say that Caesar was lucky in defeating Pompey. If the public had seen this as a threat or a wrong doing then they may of rebelled a...
gainst him and over thrown him. Because Caesar was now in absolute power of Pompeys position and with his friend in the senate, he used his influence to make and re-enforce new rules which he personally made up. Shakespeare may have tried to show the public of his time what was going on with such things as treachery and the stabbing in the back of the Monarchs. He may have been trying to warn the people that this may be about to happen to them in the future.
Many of the senators of Caesar’s time thought that he was becoming too powerful and that he may try to present himself with the position as Emperor.
Caesar: “Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus? Here we see that Caesar already saw himself as the greatest single being alive he even thought that he was greater than the gods.
Caesar: “I could be well moved, if I were as you;…….
……..And constant do remain to keep him so.”
Here again we see that Caesar sees himself as God unaffected and untouchable by normal men. This was exactly what the senate was afraid of. Caesar was murdered to prevent the position of Emperor from being reintroduced into Rome’s power structure, but it still happened even after the death of Caesar with Octavius becoming Emperor. Maybe the senators secretly organised the assassination of Caesar. This may have been another point that Shakespeare was trying to get across to the public. Maybe he meant by this that some of the important peopl
of his time were getting too powerful. For example the Earl of Essex who helped Mary Queen of Scots try to dethrone Queen Elizabeth the first. He may of meant for the play to warn people to be aware of people who were willing to challenge the heavens appointed ruler of the time.
The real life Julius Caesar was one of the greatest rulers of the ancient world, he single handedly created the vast Roman Empire which dominated the world for centuries. He was a excellent leader for men in both war and peace. However in the play he is portrayed as a vain, foolish weak and cowardly man.
Casca: “He fell down in the market-place, and foamed at the mouth, and was speechless.”
Here we see an example of the way Shakespeare potrayed Caesar as a weak cowardly man.
He has very few if any qualities of the real Caesar. However Shakespeare had good reason to portray Caesar in this way. He needed to put Brutus in a good light so that the audience of Shakespeare’s time could and would relate and feel sympathetic towards Brutus and his way of thinking. Because of the way Shakespeare made Caesar look, there’s is some indication that Caesar may be evil and bad for Rome, so it gave Brutus good reason to kill him. However, despite the picture of the ruler being an unflattering one, the chaos that follows his killing is worse than the situation which was around while he was alive.
Shakespeare was trying to get the idea of Pandora’s box across to the public. Once you open the box of treachery it leads to all kinds of deaths and chaos and once opened it cannot be closed until all the evil has been destroyed or everybody involved has been destroyed, in the way that Octavius and Antony hunted down and destroyed the conspirators. Yet part of the chaos was caused by the deaths ordered by Antony and Octavius.
3 plebeian: ” Your name, sir truly.”
Cinna the poet: “Truly, my name is Cinna.”
1 plebeian: ” Tear him to pieces, he’s a conspirator.”
Cinna the poet: “I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.”
4 plebeian: “Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.”
Cinna the poet “I am not Cinna the conspirator.”
4 plebeian: “It is no matter, his name’s Cinna. Pluck but his name out of
his heart and turn him going.”
Here we see a perfect example of the chaos caused by Antony and Octavius’s ordered deaths of the conspirators. The public (plebeians) are totally out of control and cause chaos and misery due to the orders of Antony and Octavius.
So yes I do agree that despite its Roman setting it was relevant to the England of Shakespeare’s time where the Monarch lived in fear of betrayal and treachery, like Caesar after the encounter with the soothe sawyer. I believe that history repeats itself so I strongly believe
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