AD's English Literature : Best Guide for William SHAKESPEARE'S “JULIUS CAESAR”: Details of Facts- University Notes

Best Guide for William SHAKESPEARE'S “JULIUS CAESAR”: Details of Facts- University Notes

Composition - Genre Source- Plot - Political Questions - Who is the Hero? - Verse and Prose

Composition: Written about 1599 & performed at the Globe Theatre by William Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

Genre: Julius Caesar is tragic play about political rivalries- full title is The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. This had been a red play; for it had been a tremendous struggle of forces.

Source: The play is based on translations of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives (1579), specifically from the passages on the lives of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), Marcus Brutus (Brutus), and Julius Caesar, whose military and political exploits and subsequent assassination were subjects of considerable interest during the Renaissance. Although Caesar himself is not the hero of the play, he is the catalyst of the action and the person around whom the plot revolves.


Act I. General Discontent:

Sc. 1. ( Rome. A street.) Feeling of the rabble toward Caesar.

Sc. 2. (A public place.) Stirring up the leaders against Ceesar.

Sc. 3. (The same. A street.) Revealing the plot to Casca.

Act II. The Conspiracy:

Sc. 1. (Rome. BRUTUS's orchard.)Winning Brutus.

Sc. 2. (CAESAR's house.)Prevailing over omens.

Sc. 3. (A street near the Capitol.)Artemidorus' attempt to save Caesar.

Sc. 4' (Another part of the same street, before the house of BRUTUS.)Portia's forebodings.

Julius Caesar
Act III. The Assassination: ( At the forum the conspirators stab Caesar to death. A dying Caesar sees Brutus among the killers and delivers the famous line, “Et tu, Brute?” (Thou too, Brutus?). At Caesar’s funeral, the conspirators try to rationalize their reasons for slaying Caesar- Brutus addresses the populace in a fine, reasoned tone, giving a sound but uninspired explanation of his reasons for killing Caesar- Over the objections of Cassius, Mark Antony has gained permission from Brutus to speak at Caesar's funeral. Mark Antony turns the populace into a raging mob, howling for revenge against the conspirators-The citizens chase the conspirators out of Rome-)

Sc. 1. (Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above.)The murder of Caesar.

Sc. 2. (The Forum.)The funeral scene.

Sc. 3. (A street.) The fury of the mob.

Act IV. Civil War :( Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar (Caesar’s nephew and adopted son), and Lepidus are selected as the new leaders, known as a triumvirate- the battles between the triumvirate and the former conspirators, especially Cassius and Brutus, who meet their enemies on the plains of Philippi.)

Sc. 1. (A house in Rome.)Proscriptions. Getting rid of Lepidus.

Sc. t. (Camp near Sardis. Before BRUTUS's tent.)Brutus and Cassius in camp.

Sc. 3. (Brutus's tent.)Their quarrel and reconciliation. Plan for Philippi. Brutus's vision of the ghost.

Act V. Punishment: (There, when the battle turns against them, both Brutus and Cassius—the first with an expected nobility and the latter with a nobility that makes one forget his earlier opportunism—commit suicide.)

Sc. 1. (The plains of Philippi.) Parley between the generals.

Sc. 2. (The same. The field of battle.)Battle.

Sc. 3. (Another part of the field.) Battle. Deaths of Cassius and Titinius.

Sc. 4. (Another part of the field.)Death of Cato.

Sc. 6. (Another part of the field.)Death of Brutus. Recognition of Brutus's character by Antony.

Political Questions:

1. What were Brutus's duties as praetor?

2. How was he under special obligation to Caesar?

3. Why did the tribunes cling to the Pompey party, and resist Caesar?

4. What had Caesar done to deserve a triumph?

5. How was a triumph conducted?

6. Who was Lupercus, in whose honor the festival of the Lupercal was held?

7. Why did the Romans revere the memory of Junius Brutus?

8. How had Caesar reformed the calendar?

9. What part did auguries play in public life?

10. There is the mob. What qualities does a mob usually reflect? How do such people behave? What part do they play in this drama?  How do they talk? How do they regard government?

Who is the Hero?: The great tragic figure is Brutus, whose will is faced by two avenues of action, either of which will mean death: the one, death to his patriotic sense; the other, death to his friend. Technically, Caesar is the main character, for he gives his name to the title; but emotionally, the hero is Brutus.

Verse or Prose: Verse and prose are herewith deliberate purpose. Prose comes from the commons, from Casca; Brutus in his great speech uses plain prose to convince the minds of his hearers. Antony, on the other hand, plunges into verse that, by its rhythmical appeal, stirs the heart and arouses the passions.

 Ardhendu De

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