Shakespeare Play: Julius Caesar

10 down, 6 to go…This is the first of my many catching up posts while I have a bit of spare time!

Julius Caesar is a bit different to the Shakespeare plays that I usually read and like Richard II, it takes on a perspective of a historical event. In this blog, I’m going to put forward a concept that Julius Caesar could be seen as two mini-tragedies.

When you read this play, it really feels like it has two halves to it: the events leading up to Caesar’s assassination and the events after it. These two separate halves are almost both tragedies in themselves. The first half explores the glory of Caesar and shows Brutus’ developing conflicting thoughts. Caesar is warned about the Ides of March by Soothsayer and this half is full of mistakes made my Caesar and dismissing this is probably his biggest. Obviously, the tragedy of this half concludes with the assassination of Caesar. Caesar himself only speaks 130 lines throughout the whole play and this infers his level of power but also exposes the weaknesses that he holds too. The mistakes he makes, like the aforementioned one, as well as ignoring his wife and the letter from Artemedius reinforce this weakness and his onstage description of being deaf and also being ill takes this idea even further.

In the second part of the play, after the assassination, the tragedy of the first part replicates itself. It begins with the powerful speeches of Brutus and Antony, moves to the battlefields of Philippi and ends with the suicides of Cassius, Brutus and Portia. The final scenes of the play demonstrate how the assassination is key to this play as it is the event that everybody expects to happen. However, what makes this play interesting is Shakespeare’s take on it and the level at which it affects the characters and their actions. The assassination causes chaos and mayhem through the streets of Rome, most notably the wrongful murder of the poet Cinna. This is also represented through the protagonists of Brutus and Cassius as they seem to become rather self-destructive in the closing acts and this is shown through their deaths. It is also interesting to note that although Brutus has wronged, at his death he is treated respectfully which protects his honour. This is significant because it shows how Rome is beginning to recover once the conspirators have been dealt with. 

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy this play when I first read it but looking into it this play is becoming more and more interesting. The powerful speeches, the significance of the characters deaths, the play’s historical relevance and of course, the assassination are all paths that can be thoroughly explored. As a result of this, Julius Caesar has risen in my opinion and on reflection gets a  7/10. If you want a play that you can delve into, then this is definitely for you, enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “Shakespeare Play: Julius Caesar

  1. Thank you for this short but interesting summary of the play. Ir really gives me a different perspective of looking at the play.

  2. My confusion comes from the gap between Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and his Antony and Cleopatra. In Julius Caesar the episode between Cleopatra and Antony is in the background, and resolved with renewal of ties between Antony and Caesar. But in Antony and Cleopatra, Caesar is the winner in the political contention between Caesar and Antony. Antony dies and Caesar is the victor. But where is the liaison between Caesar and Cleopatra? They were supposed to have had at least 2 children (one named Caesarion, if I remember correctly).

    If Antony dies in Antony & Cleopatra, how does he get to give his magnificent eulogy to Caesar after his assassination?

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