Presentation on theme: "The play opens at a holiday creating an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. Marullus discusses the contrast between love and ingratitude. The commoners."— Presentation transcript:
The play opens at a holiday creating an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. Marullus discusses the contrast between love and ingratitude. The commoners typify the “mob” mentality – an essential collective character throughout the play.
Antony appears as a total subject of Caesar, a devoted follower. He is also a man of action – further realized through the race Antony is about to run. Brutus is a more reflective type. He tends to stand aside and consider, rather than to rush into action. He acknowledges that he lacks some of the “quick spirit” which Antony possesses. Antony is quick to seize an opportunity, and he usually wins. Brutus is slow to come to a decision, and is usually wrong
Cassius is a manipulator; he uses others but is a keen judge of character and human nature. He knows the sort of flattery which will work on the other characters to achieve his goal. He is envious towards Caesar, but he masks it with his love of Rome. He uses the best within Brutus to support the worst within himself.
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves” means that men are not helpless pawns of their destiny but self-determining humans who forge their own fate. Cassius is urging Brutus to act, to take a moral and honorable stand.
He is shrewd as shown by his estimate of Cassius. He is arrogant about his powers. He is ambitious. He is flawed by human frailty. He is an aging man cursed by partial deafness and the “falling sickness.” All men, no matter how powerful, eventually fall victim to the human condition.
Cassius refers to the populace as “rag-tag people” and “the common herd”, yet it is the rights of these lowly people that the conspirators want to have and protect. Ironically, it is not the democracy in the sense of popular rule that they want to protect but their own rights and powers. Foreshadows the role of the mob in the resolution of the conflict.
Cassius refers to Brutus in terms of metal. Brutus, whose honor is stiff and immoveable as metal can be molded by someone who knows how to manipulate the material at hand. Cassius believes that he can mold Brutus.
When the conspirators’ plot is ready, it is not surprising that all nature cries out. These horrors would be accepted by the Elizabethan as nature’s protest against the imminence of disruption.
Cassius calls Casca “dull”. Cassius knows Casca for what he is but continues to use him as he can, just as he hopes to use Brutus.
He bares his envy of Caesar, once his equal, now his superior. He tries to deny the omens and Caesar’s greatness by equating the frightening storm to Caesar’s vulnerable glory, a glory which can be extinguished by assassination. Cassius also jokes that he, like all men, have the ability to escape tyranny – by suicide, if all else fails – a foreshadowing of his death.
In the continued “metal” imagery, alchemy was the age-old attempt to find a magic process for turning lead into gold. The conspirators hope that the outstanding public image of the honorable Brutus will camouflage the nature of the assassination and make it acceptable to the Roman people. Unfortunately, they forget that alchemy was never successful. Lead remains lead, a base metal, and murder remains a murder, a base act.
In a soliloquy a character’s inner thought are revealed. What a character says may not be true, but it is the truth as he sees it. In this soliloquy Brutus assesses the political situation in Rome and decides his personal course of action. He holds no personal resentment against Caesar. He wants the assassination to be completed “honestly” and openly, letting the people judge the action.
He has committed himself to their cause but cannot share their attitude. The desire to commit an immoral act in moral fashion is a contradiction in terms, that reveals and creates clashes in the group. Brutus tries to convince the others that the virtue of their intention is bond enough; he denies the need for a binding oath.
Brutus refuses to allow the murder of Antony who appears harmless. Brutus forgets that Caesar also appeared harmless. Cassius is correct; for the conspiracy to succeed Antony must die with Caesar, but Brutus has his way. Cassius must pay a high price for the prestige which Brutus brings to his cause.
This scene portrays Brutus as the affectionate, noble, honorable man that he is. Brutus’ loving concern for Portia stresses the fine qualities of this man betrayed by his own weakness. Brutus is risking everything for the conspiracy – love, honor, country, and finally his very life.
The illness which he has used as an excuse to placate Portia is revealed as his concern for Rome under the rule of Caesar. Brutus views Rome as a man invaded by disease and tells Ligarius that he plans a deed which “will make sick men whole.” Brutus truly believes in the moral justification of the assassination.
Juxtaposed with the scene between Brutus and his wife, it shows Brutus and Caesar as much alike. Both men are good, yet one will soon be involved of the murder of the other. They are alike in their vulnerability to manipulation by others. Calpurnia’s omens foreshadows the bloody killing to come. Caesar almost listens to his wife, but he cannot resist the appeal to his pride.
The conspirators arrive to bring Caesar to the capital. Their hypocritical politeness to him contrasts sharply with his pleasant, trusting welcome to them.
This scene heightens the tension of the drama. Artemidorus functions as a device through which the outcome may be changed, but will he be able to reach Caesar in time? Suspense is prolonged and maintained at a fever pitch.
Portia reminds us of all Brutus has to lose. Suspense is maintained because Portia wants to know the same things the audience wants to know.
These are not long speeches but disjointed and brief questions, answers, and interruptions.
Caesar talks at length about his own constancy, his refusal to change his mind in the midst of a tribute to his own superiority, he is stricken down. Though Casca strikes the first blow, it is the treachery of Caesar’s beloved friend Brutus which destroys him. Caesar’s shocked “Et tu, Brute” (“You too, Brutus?”) expresses his shattered trust in the once-honorable Brutus.
Brutus insists on viewing the killing as a moral act. Cassius sees the death as the first step to new government; he predicts that history will remember them as patriots rather than killers.
Cassius gets right to business; he wants to know where Antony stands and whether his loyalties are transferable. Brutus seems anxious to convince Antony that the decision to kill Caesar was the right one.
Brutus is a poor judge of character. Just as Cassius swayed him, so Antony misleads him. Cassius is not deceived; he recognizes the ploy as a very dangerous one and argues that Antony should be denied the chance to speak. Yet Brutus has his way and seals the conspirators’ doom. Giving Antony permission to speak is the turning point in the play.
When Antony speaks to the conspirators he is careful not to show too much emotion. Before the crowd he vows revenge in bloody and passionate terms.
Brutus believed that he justified his crime to Antony, so he uses the same argument to the populace. He claims justification for the killing in the name of patriotism and reason – “not that I lov’d Caesar less but that I lov’d Rome more.” His speech is calm, balanced, and reasonable. Brutus deals at the level of ideas and touches only their minds; Antony’s dramatics capture their hearts.
Only Cassius recognizes Antony as an antagonist. Antony understands psychology. His masterful use of irony ensnares his listeners. They are forced to realize Antony means the opposite of what he says, and slowly they are overwhelmed by the thrust of his accusations. Antony claims that he has not come to praise Caesar, but soon he is praising Caesar vigorously. He uses the word “honorable” so that the audience understands that the conspirators are far from honorable.
Cassius has underestimated the people by thinking that they can be fooled into overlooking a foul deed. Antony has found it easy to sway their emotions.
Antony has grown during the funeral scene, assumed a new seriousness and strength. He is disloyal; he views Lepidus as unfit to be his partner, admitting he chose Lepidus because he could use him. He even consents to his nephew’s execution.
As rulers, they may be worse than the conspirators. They are ruthless, greedy, self-seeking, and power- hungry. Lepidus and Octavius are the legitimate successors to Caesar.
The conspirators’ quarrel not only maintains emotion at a high pitch but shows the disintegration of the conspiracy. It also reinforces the qualities of Brutus and Cassius. Cassius has strength and drive but is flawed by a basic pettiness. Brutus is flawed by an impracticality in dealing with reality.
The news of Portia’s death and its gruesome manner creates sympathy for Brutus. Even Cassius forgets the bitterness of their quarrel and a rapport is re-established. Brutus has changed from an honored citizen with a noble wife, a long tradition of family prestige, and the high regard of his country; now he has sunk to the status of a hunted outlaw.
Brutus realizes that Cassius is flawed and that he himself has been misled in accepting the leadership of such a man. Brutus no longer believes in the ultimate justice of their cause. A final aftermath of the quarrel is that Cassius seals the reconciliation by allowing Brutus to plan the battle strategy…big mistake.
First, ghosts were crowd-pleasers in Shakespeare’s day. Second, it is vital that the the link between cause and effect is established, that Caesar’s murder –for which Brutus is about to die – be remembered. When the ghost introduces himself as “thy evil sprit, Brutus”, it is to remind Brutus that the evil in his own nature caused his present problems. Third, the ghost’s threat to reappear at Philippi increases the tension and points to a dramatic conclusion.
He is a man in complete control of the situation. Confident that his spies have informed him accurately, he is pleased to see his enemy’s tactics playing into his hands.
The audience would be aware of the historical facts behind the story. Octavius is the final victor, defeating Antony and installing himself as the first in the dynasty of imperial Caesars. Octavius has shown no sympathetic side to balance his ruthlessness. The final spat over battle strategy ends with Octavius saying, “I do not cross you, but I will do so.” That Octavius gives the play’s final speech is another allusion to Octavius’ ultimate victory.
It seems to serve little strategic purpose except to give them a chance to exchange insults, flaunt their bravery, and whet their appetites for war. Cassius and Brutus cheer each other on even though each had omens of defeat and is resigned to the outcome.
Believing the battle is lost and his friend Titanius taken, he asks his slave to kill him. As Brutus is to do shortly after, he devotes his last words to Caesar. His soldiers return to tell him that all is not lost. The last appraisal of Cassius is softened by the tears of Brutus. He knows Cassius is flawed but still beloved friend, recalls his strengths and virtues. The spirit of Caesar is now avenged.
Ineptly he had selected the disastrous battle site, and now he gives the signal at the wrong time, ensuring confusion and defeat. Brutus marvels at his friends loyalty at their refusal to kill him at his request. Choosing death rather than dishonor, he runs upon his sword. Antony and Octavius commend his motives in the assassination and promise him honorable rites. Antony restores him to his respected stature and he dies “the noblest Roman of them all.”