Literature has been existing ever since the ancient times; whether it be the scripts or poems. And in all that, English Literature was very important and famous, especially during the Elizabethan era. Even today the literature is celebrated, the plays are performed in theatres all over the world and the script is translated into hundreds of languages.
The father of English Literature, to this date, is known as William Shakespeare. He captured the true essence of tragedy, conspiracy, betrayal in his plays which are read and performed even today, centuries later. Some of the most notable plays by Shakespeare include Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, The Tempest and many more.
One of these is Julius Caesar, a beautifully written tragic play which involves themes of betrayal, conspiracy and honor.
Conspiracy in simple words means the agreement of two parties to do something unlawful and criminal. Many felonies are committed as a result of two or more people coming together, planning and plotting and then carrying out the crime. Such an agreement and meeting is known as a conspiracy.
Julius Caesar, the play revolves around the conspiracy of murder of a ruler by conspirators to get into power themselves. There is so much more depth to the play, let’s get into it later in the article.
A theory, in simple words, is a phenomenon based on certain assumptions about a certain act or happening. These assumptions take into accounts all important factors of the happening and devise a predictive approach to how it is going to happen.
Julius Caesar Summary
The play Julius Caesar was written in 1599 based on the life of Caesar, a very famous Roman ruler. The play starts with the people of Rome celebrating the return of Julius Caesar after defeating a threatening army. The triumphant victory is celebrated by the crowd in which Caesar’s close student, Mark Antony also takes part. On his way to the Arena, a stranger warns Caesar that he should ‘beware of the Ides of March’, meaning he should beware of 15th of March.
Fellow senators, Caius Cassius and Marcus Brutus are jealous of the victory of Caesar, and fear that he will accept the offers of becoming Emperor. He was very famous among the Republic and the people literally worshipped him for his bravery, kindness and generosity. Cassius in particular was jealous of Caesar and wanted to overthrow his power so he could be the ruler one day.
Cassius, along with fellow conspirators makes a plan to murder Caesar, and wants his friend, Brutus to join him. He presents Brutus with false documents to manipulate him into taking their side.
What ultimately motivates Brutus to join the conspiracy?
Cassius persuades Brutus by saying that Caesar is just another monarch that needs to be overthrown and we are just puppets under his rule. He says, ‘The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings’. Brutus then ultimately joins the conspiracy to overthrow Caesar by killing him.
On the day of 15th March, Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia warns him about the dream she saw, and the threat that the Capitol may have on him if he goes.
What does Calpurnia’s dream foreshadow?
Calpurnia’s dream foreshadows Caesar’s coming assassination. Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, dreams that his statue is pouring blood, and Romans are coming to wash their hands in the blood while smiling. Calpurnia believes this dream signals danger for Caesar, and begs him to stay home from the Capitol the day after her dream – the same day that Caesar would be assassinated.
Even though a clear indication of what might happen, she tries hard to persuade her husband to not go. But Caesar doesn’t pay much attention. When he goes to the Capitol on the 15th of March, he is assassinated. Each of the conspirators come and stab him in the heart, and when Brutus comes to stab him, Caesar says, ‘you too, Brutus?’
At the time of Caesar’s funeral, against Cassius’ advice, Brutus allows Mark Antony to give a eulogy after his own speech. Brutus explains the people why Caesar was slowly becoming a monarch and how he posed a threat to the people and their interests. The public starts supporting his cause. But soon later, Mark Antony in his speech questions the motives of the conspirators and tells the crowd it was unfair to murder their leader like that. He also reads aloud Caesar’s will in which he had left his land and property for every Roman citizen. Mark Antony’s words stir the crowd and initiate a civil war, forcing Cassius, Brutus and their fellow conspirators to leave the city.
Brutus and Cassius assemble a military in Northern Greece and plan to battle the powers driven by Mark Antony. Antony sides with Caesar’s nephew, Octavius, and with a man called Lepidus. While all the preparations, Brutus gets news about his wife’s suicide in Rome. The night before the battle, Brutus sees Caesar’s ghost in his dreams taunting him about his defeat tomorrow.
In the fight, the Republicans (driven by Brutus) are initially winning, but then soon Cassius’ messenger’s horse is surrounded by the enemy. Seeing this Cassius orders his soldiers to kill him as quick death. Subsequent to discovering Cassius’ body, Brutus commits suicide as well. He accepts this to be the main noteworthy alternative left to him. Antony, victorious on the war zone, acclaims Brutus as ‘the noblest Roman of all’ and requests a proper memorial service before he and Octavius rule in Rome.
What is not one of Brutus’ Values?
In all the things that Brutus was, he wasn’t a tyrant. He was a noble, honourable man whose motives revolved around patriotism: the best interest of Rome and its people. He was also an idealist who believed other people’s motives. When Cassius persuaded him and manipulated him to join the conspiracy, he was naive enough to listen to him and stab his friend, Caesar.
In fact, when Cassius manipulated him, he did so saying it was time to end Caesar’s tyranny because his motives towards Rome have now become suspicious. Just so Rome could get rid of a potential tyrant, Brutus joined the conspiracy and when he realized his mistake, he committed suicide as ‘the most honorable thing to do’.
Shakespeare never fails to trap the audience with the beauty of his writing and the realism of characters: all character developments revolve around actual human nature. We all have traits of manipulating and being manipulated, being conspirators, betraying our loved ones, undying love and patriotism for our country, and maybe a little bit of honor and dignity too.
The characters in the play are actual human traits, and each justifying why a person did something: human nature. Free will vs. Fate. In the end, it all comes down to the choices we make.