Caesar Character analysis

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  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 09-04-14 15:51
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  • Julius Caesar
    • The name
      • The book is named after this character,
      • However, the main character or the protagonist  in the book which Shakespeare focuses on is Brutus
      • Shakespeare may have named the book after him as it is interesting to consider such a man whose elevation to power and ruling could trigger such cataclysmic events,
      • He appears only in three scenes and says a few lines,
    • Background
      • He is the ruler of Rome and its empire and has absolute power,
      • Early in the first century BC, three men-Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar-united to form a triumvirate
      • After Crassus was killed, Pompey and Caesar couldn't agree to share power and civil war broke out,
      • Caesar defeated Pompey and the play opens with Caesar's return from the last victory where he defeated Pompey's sons,
    • Is Caesar a threat?
      • Yes
        • He clearly enjoys his power
          • The moment before his death he says 'Hence! Wilt thou lift Olympus?'
            • This shows that he thinks that he is lifting Olympus which is the home of the Gods, a mountain in Greece so he thinks that he is so powerful that he is supporting the Gods,
          • Caesar was frustrated when he was offered the crown by Antony but he had to turn it down. It says 'The angry spot doth glow on Caesar's brow.'
            • As Caesar denied the crown, we know he only did this because it would please the crowd and they don't want a 'King' as the word scares them as they are Republic,
          • In act 2 Scene 1, Brutus acknowledges that Caesar had not done much but he is afraid of what he must do-'It must be his death'.
            • The desire for power from Caesar seals his death warrant because Brutus feared Caesar's power above all,
        • In Act 1 Scene 2, it is said that Caesar had 'put to silence' Murellus and Flavius for covering up pictures of Caesar and we think that maybe Caesar put them to death,
        • And therefore think him as a serpent's egg/ Which, hatch'd, could, as his kind, grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell.' Act 2, Scene 1,
          • Brutus compares Caesar with a 'serpent's egg' that should be eliminated before it hatches and becomes dangerous which suggests the conspirators see Caesar as a future threat to Rome,
      • No
        • Physical Weakness
          • Deaf-'Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf'
            • Here we learn Caesar is deaf in one ear which shows Shakespeare's own invention but this isn't how we picture a leader,
          • Poor Swimmer-'Help me Cassius, or I sink!'
            • This shows that he isn't physically able and isn't physically fit like a military leader should be,
          • Epilepsyx2-'How he did shake' and 'He fell down in the market place, and foamed at the mouth',
            • This was mentioned twice in Scene 2 Act 1 which shows how weak and handicapped he is,
          • Infertile-'To touch Calpurnia... Shake off their sterile curse
            • Here, although Shakespeare shows Caesar saying Calpurnia is infertile, there is a suggestion he may be infertile,
          • The Physical weaknesses show that Caesar is imperfect when he is presented as a major threat to the Roman Republic so Shakespeare is showing us that he is human like the rest of us so it humanises him,
            • However, it could also suggest he isn't fit to rule Rome,
    • Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Audience
      • He dramatises  the character of Caesar by avoiding sympathy for him from other characters and doesn't makes the character alienated,
      • It is fairly neutral as he doesn't present one character with a simple or approved political position which ensures that the actions of the conspirators on Caesar are debatable for the audience,
      • Caesar represents the despotic power that Elizabethans thought was advantageous as it had stability and the country gained power but was negative as there would be forms of repression,
      • Here Shakespeare is showing the anxieties about leadership which was a subject in many Elizabethan minds as the reign of Queen Elizabeth was ending,
    • Superstitution
      • Public
        • Soothsayer: 'Beware the Ides of March' Caesar 'Set him before me, let me see his face... He is a dreamer, let us leave him,
        • Firstly, he is intent on hearing the Soothsayer but then dismisses him as Caesar's instincts tell him to listen to the Soothsayer's ominous words while his awareness of millions of people prompts him to pretend he is unperturbed by the warning,
      • Private
        • Caesar: 'Go bid the priest do present sacrifice/ And bring me their opinions of success.'
        • this shows that Caesar is superstitious  as he is asking for sacrifices to see the future,

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