Act 1 Scene 1 - Notes

Detailed notes on the themes and inner content of Act 1 Scene 1 of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, for the Cambridge International GCSE.

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Julius Caesar - Act 1 Scene 1
This scene is where Flavius and Murellus, two tribunes, spot several workers celebrating
the return of Caesar after he killed Pompey, one of the triumvirate who governed the
Roman Empire. They get angry, because they are unhappy that the people are unjustly
rejoicing and not working.
Murellus doesn't want them to worship Caesar because he finds them ungrateful to
Pompey; this motive is quite mundane.
Flavius' motive is more cunning; he doesn't want Caesar to become arrogant and to
start controlling everyone else (`servile fearfulness').
This is important; these motives are recurring throughout the play.
Flavius leads Murellus astray by forcing him to take down the garlands, despite it
being an important festival in the Roman calendar; this is again foreshadowing the
events of the rest of the play.
In fact, the whole scene foreshadows the rest of the play.
There are several themes that can be spotted in the play, even from the very first scene in
a conversation that appears trivial.
The workers changed their loyalty like the weather - they are fickle. On the other
hand, Murellus is very loyal to Rome.
Both tribunes are unhappy with Caesar as sole ruler, but they each have very
different motivations for not wanting Caesar in this position.
The workers go where the power is - they are fickle. The tribunes are more
arrogant, because they have been promoted and therefore believe they have the
right to take the law into their own hands and order around the normal plebs in the
Power of words to manipulate
Murellus was unable to persuade the workers to leave with insults, but flattery
from Flavius persuaded them to go. (Flattery is a sub-theme of this category.)
Flavius speaks differently to the plebs than he does to his friend, Murellus. Also,
the cobbler uses a lot of puns to confuse the tribunes.
This is a major theme of the play, and is seen a little bit in this scene. The workers
(plebeians) are not in their normal work clothes (disorder). Flavius is taking the law
into his own hands by taking down the garlands (use of disorder to re-instigate
Personal Emotions
Murellus is standing up for what is morally right, but Flavius' motives are more on a
personal basis - he just hates Caesar. This is strange, because on the surface, it appears that

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Murellus is overcome with personal emotions and Flavius is standing up for what is
morally right (CONTRAST).…read more


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