By William Shakespeare
Title: Julius Caesar
Author: William Shakespeare
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Name: hemy _____ [Date: 10/04/06]
Review/comment: William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is perhaps the most widely read English poet and dramatist in the world. His plays and poems have been translated into every major language, and his popularity, nearly 400 years after his death, is greater now than it was in his own lifetime. Yet very little is known about his personal and professional life. He was born in Stratford-on-Avon, a rural town in War¬¨wick¬¨shire, England. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but he was baptized in Holy Trinity Church on April 26, 1564, and was probably born... He is known for his mesimerizing writing skills. He possesses an amazing talent of engrossing the reader in the thoughtfully built web of his words. Reading this book was an amazing experience in itself. The way the story was lead through the events was extremely capturing. Probably written in 1599, Julius Caesar was the earliest of Shakespeare's three Roman history plays. Like Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus, Julius Caesar is a dramatization of actual events, Shakespeare drawing upon the ancient Roman historian Plutarch's Lives of Caesar, Brutus, and Mark Antony as the primary source of the play's plot and characters. The play is tightly structured. It establishes the dramatic problem of alarm at Julius Caesar's ambition to become "king" (or dictator) in the very first scene and introduces signs that Caesar must "beware the Ides of March" from the outset. Before its midpoint, Caesar is assassinated, and shortly after Mark Antony's famous funeral oration ("Friends, Romans, and countrymen ‚?¶ "), the setting shifts permanently from Rome to the battlefields on which Brutus and Cassius meet their inevitable defeat. Julius Caesar is also a tragedy; but despite its title, the tragic character of the play is Brutus, the noble Roman whose decision to take part in the conspiracy for the sake of freedom plunges him into a personal conflict and his country into civil war. Literary scholars have debated for centuries about the question of who exactly is the protagonist of this play. The seemingly simple answer to this question would be Julius Caesar himself‚??after all, the play is named after him, and the events of the play all relate to him. However, Caesar only appears in three scenes (four if the ghost is included), thus apparently making him an unlikely choice for the protagonist who is supposed to be the main character. Meanwhile, Brutus, who is in the play much more often than Caesar (and actually lasts until the final scene), is not the title character of the play and is listed in the dramatis personae not only after Caesar but after the entire triumvirate and some senators who barely appear in the play. Determining the protagonist is one of the many engaging issues presented in the play. The action begins in February 44 BC. Julius Caesar has just reentered Rome in triumph after a victory in spain over the sons of his old enemy,Pompey the Great. A spontaneous celebration has interrupted and been broken up by Flavius and Marullus two political enemies of Caesar. It soon becomes apparent from their words that powerful and secret forces are working against Caesar. Caesar appears,attended by a train of friends and supporters and is warned by a soothsayer to "beware the ides of March," but he ignores the warning and leaves for the games and races marking the celebration of the feast of Lupercal. In the next scene,it is revealed that the conspiracy Cassius spoke in the veiled terms is already a reality. He has gathered together a group of disgruntled and discredited aristocrats who are only too willing to assassinate Caesar. Partly to gain the support of the respectable element of roman society, Cassius persuades Brutus to head the conspiracy,and Brutus agrees to do so. Shortly afterward, plans are made at a secret meeting at Brutus' orchard. The date is set : It will be on the day known as the ideas of march, the fifteenth day of the month. Caesar is to be murdered in the Senate chambers by the concealed daggers and swords of the assembled conspirators. Caesar's wife Calphurnia, terrufied by horrible nightmares persuades Caesar not to go to the Capitol, convinced that her dreams are portents of disaster. By prearrangement, Brutus and the other conspirators arrive to accompany Caesar, hoping to fend off any possible warnings until they have him totally in their power at the Senate. Unaware that he is surrounded by assassins and shrugging off Calphurnia's exhortations, Caesar goes with them. Despite the conspirators' best efforts, a warning is pressed into Caesar's hand on the very steps of the Capitol, but he refuses to read it. Wasting no further time, the conspirators move into action. Purposely asking Caesar for a favor they know he will refuse, they move closer , as if begging a favor, and then , reaching for their hidden weapons, they killed him before the shocked eyes of the senators and spectators Hearing of Caesar's murder, Mark Anthony, Caesar's closest friend, begs permission to speak at Caesar's funeral. Brutus grants this permission over the objections of Cassius and delivers his own speech first, confident that his words will convince the populace of the necessity for Caesar's death. After Brutus leaves, Antony begins to speak, the croud has been swayed by Brutus' words, and it is an unsympatheitic crowd that Antony addresses. Using every oratorical device known, however, Antony turns the audience into a howling mob,screaming for the the blood of Caesar's murderers. Alarmed by the fufor caused by Antony's speech, the conspirators and their supporters are forced to flee from Rome and finally, from Italy... Months pass, during which the conspirators and their armies are pursued relentlessly into the far reaches of Asia Minor. When finally they decided to stop at the town of Sardis,Cassius and Brutus quarrel bitterly over finances. Their differences are resolved, however, and plans are made to meet the forces of Antony, Octavius and Lepidus in one final battle. Against his own better judgement, Cassius allows Brutus to overrule him : Instead of holding to their well- prepared defensive positions, Brutus is visited by the ghost of Caesar." I shall see thee at Philippi," the spirit warns him, but Brutus' courage is unshaken and he goes on. The battle rages hotly.At first the conspirators appear to have the advantage, but in the confusion, Cassius is mistakenly convinced that all is lost, and he kills himself. Leaderless, his forces are quickily defeated, and Brutus finds himself fighting a hopeless battle.Unable to face the prospect of humilation and shame as a captive(who would be chained to the wheels of Antony's chariot and dragged through the streets of Rome), he too takes his own life. As the play ends, Antony delivers a eulogy over Brutus' body, calling him "the nobelest Roman of them all." Caesar's murder has been avenged, order has been restorted, and, most important, the Roman Empire has been preserved.