Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

557 words | 2 page(s)

Through Julius Caesar as central figure in his outstanding drama, Shakespeare does not intend to portray a figure of legendary military greatness once again. Instead, he creates a character consistent with the other issues of the play. On the background of evil deeds by cold-blooded murderers Cassius and Brutus, the great playwright depicts Caesar as admirable ruler. Shakespeare’s complex and controversial character is both superstitious and reasonable, and at times arrogantly aloof and compassionate. These traits enabled Shakespeare to project a ruler that has power over nobility that certainly is afraid of him, though Caesar is not a villain at the same time. In one of the episodes, Flavius expresses his fear about Caesar’s intention to ‘soar above the view of men and keep us all in servile fearfulness’ (Act I, Scene 1). Casca and Antony almost instantly prove the credibility of this opinion by implying that citizens of Rome perceive each Caesar’s wish as a command.

Shakespeare’s Caesar is a powerful person capable of maintaining own spirit and self. At a critical moment, he is not afraid of Cassius implying he is beyond the reach of ordinary people: ‘for always I am Caesar’. On the verge of his death, Caesar compares himself to the gods of Olympus and this way shows his determination to rule over justice in Rome. This way Shakespeare emphasizes on Caesar’s apparent pride and arrogance that prevail over his ability to reason. In one of the episodes, Caesar fatalistically accepts the inevitability of death ‘that man should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come’.

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Judging from the first appearance, we take Caesar as a rather superstitious person who notwithstanding tends to ignore the warning and alerts. On the one hand, he is not afraid of Cassius, though, on the other hand, he perceives him as a potential danger to political rulers, While Shakespeare depicts Cassius as a man, and he portrays Caesar as a demigod. Given this, Caesar applies abstract qualities and considers himself more terrible and older than he really is. Blinded by his ambitious arrogance and superiority over others, he ultimately fails to observe reality and reason in a clear way.

While not seeming power-hungry at the beginning of the play, Caesar still possesses certain flaws. He cannot separate his public and private life, while the growing idealization of his image enables him to ignore all possible hazards. Ultimately, he believes in his eternity that Shakespeare compares to the North Star.

Given such prioritization over his ultimate persona, Caesar becomes more and more ambitious throughout the play and strives for gaining absolute power over Rome. Herewith, Shakespeare shows how personal ambitions overwhelm reasonable judgment. Largely mislead by generous homage from others, he starts to believe in his greatness and eternal mark he will leave in people’s minds. Later on Shakespeare that exaggeration of his own permanence eventually proves his undoing. He is so blindfold with his superiority that he believes that his public image will remain forever and that will save his mortal body from death. Caesar’s belief in own eternity remains powerful until the end of the play while an overall aura of this ambiguous character greatly affects its developments and outcomes in a mystic manner (Taylor 301-308).

  • Taylor, Myron. ‘Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the Irony of History’. Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol. 24, No. 3. 1973. 301’308

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