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Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare characters, plot, literary devices, famous quotations speeches, anachronisms.

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1 Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare characters, plot, literary devices, famous quotations speeches, anachronisms

2 Remember, These notes are to help you understand and enjoy this Shakespearean drama. They will help you be successful in class, in small groups, with your journaling, and on quizzes and tests.

3 The setting Rome 44 BC

4 The drama begins … Act I scenes 1and 2 February 15, 44 BC scene 3 a month later on the eve of the Ides of March

5 Opening Lines: “Hence, home you idle creatures, get you home! Is this a holiday? What know you not,... “ Shakespeare begins the play with these powerful, attention-getting lines to quiet and focus his audience at the Globe Theater. Flavius and Marullus, the tribunes which are like our national representatives, are trying to protect the common citizens, “the vulgar,” from big government, which in 44 BC is Julius Caesar and his quest for the crown.

6 Pun: A play on words, using same sounds and/or double meanings Shakespeare opens the play with humor to catch audience’s attention.

7 The puns in the opening scene use double meanings. In Shakespeare’s day a cobbler could mean a shoe maker or any unskilled workman. The cobbler uses a double meaning with the words “awl”, the shoemakers’ tool, and “withal,” meaning nevertheless. He also makes puns with the word “sole”, which is the bottom of a shoe and the idea of “mending” the souls, or bad humors, of the tribunes who are scolding the commoners.

8 Metaphor: the commoners = feathers Caesar = a bird Scene 1; lines (page 778 and 779)

9 Act I, scene 2 Caesar reminds his wife Calphurnia to be blessed so she will have heirs to carry on his lineage. Then, Caesar turns his good ear to hear a warning in the noisy crowd; the soothsayer calls the famous line of foreshadowing, “Beware the ides of March.” However, it would never do for Caesar to show fear, so his response is “He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass... “ Then Caesar, Calphrunia, Antony, their followers and the other noble men leave the stage [“Exeunt all except Brutus and Cassius.]”

10 The main purpose of Act I, scene 2 is the discussion between the brothers-in-law, Cassius and Brutus.

11 Act I, scene 2 Let’s first read over the plot summary you will find under your desks or review the online sources you are using.. Pay particular attention to the specific anecdotes Cassius tells about Caesar and the points he makes about Julius when trying to convince Brutus that something must be done to stop Julius Caesar’s desire to become king.

12 Check your understanding Cassius, the manipulator When Cassius first speaks to Brutus, he concentrates on Caesar’s A. need for an heir. B. limited intelligence. C. failures as a general. D. physical weaknesses. (work through the slides to #17)

13 page 782; ll Brutus “Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius, That you would have me seek into myself For that which is not in me?” Do you think that Brutus knows what Cassius is actually tying to convince him of? Have you ever asked this in a different way? For example: What trouble are you trying to get me into?

14 In addition, on page 785, Brutus’s response to Cassius indicates that he knows exactly what Cassius is “getting at.” lines “What you would work me to, I have some aim; How I have thought of this, and of these times, I shall recount hereafter.”

15 Restate these lines in modern language; use a cliché if you know one for this situation. page 782 ll Brutus “What means this shouting? I do fear the people Choose Caesar for their king. Cassius Ay, do you fear it? Then must I think you would not have it so.”

16 Simile: lines (page 783) “…he doth bestride the world like a Colossus…”

17 Check Your Understanding When Cassius first speaks to Brutus, he concentrates on Caesar’s physical weaknesses.

18 more famous lines which have meaning in modern times: “Men at some times are masters of their fates; The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our star, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Ll Sophomores, increasingly, you are masters of your fates. The fault, dear students, is not in your astrological sign or dysfunctional alarm clock or the neighbor’s dog, or... But in yourselves if you are underachievers! Ms. Lambert

19 Caesar and Antony return to the stage.

20 Who is right about Cassius? Page Caesar “Yond Cassias has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.... Such men as he be never at heart’s ease Whiles they behold a greater than themselves And therefore are very dangerous.” Antony “Fear him not, Caesar, he’s not dangerous; He is a noble Roman, and well given.”

21 Shakespearean irony : The reader and audience clearly know that Antony is wrong and is speaking with unconscious irony.

22 And yet, does Caesar fear Cassius? Caesar continues, “ I rather tell thee what is to be feared Than what I fear, for always I am Caesar.” What is Caesar actually saying here? Does this attitude lead to his downfall/tragic death?

23 Casca, the informant On pages , notice how Shakespeare has Casca speak not in iambic pentameter, but in plain prose. His speeches do not even look like poetry on the page; they look like regular paragraphs. Shakespeare uses this technique to indicate a character who is less educated. Therefore, Casca can not tell Cassius and Brutus everything that was said. What language did Cicero speak that Casca does not understand? How does Casca feel about this? Use Casca’s famous line in modern context.

24 “I saw Mac Antony offer him a crown-yet ‘twas not a crown neither, ‘twas one of these coronets... “

25 Are the Roman citizens ready to return to the rule of a king? Casca related how Antony offered the symbolic crown to Caesar three times, and even though Caesar was “very loath to lay his fingers off it,” the crown cheered louder each time he refused the coronet. In our era, this is similar to political surveys and polls.

26 text to world

27 Check Your Understanding! Casca’s account of Caesar’s refusal of a crown suggests clearly that Caesar A. wants no additional honor nor worries B. really does desire to be king C. cares little about the mood of the Roman people D. is always afraid of becoming too excited

28 Check Your Understanding! Casca’s account of Caesar’s refusal of a crown suggests clearly that Caesar really does desire to be king. (choice B)

29 Cassius has more news too... “Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarf off Caesar's images, are put to silence.” The margin note on text p. 788 will help the reader understand their punishment.

30 scene 2 ends with a soliloquy Cassius, alone now, says that while he believes that Brutus is noble, he hopes that Brutus’s noble nature may yet be bent: “For who so firm that cannot be seduced?” he asks rhetorically. He decides to forge letters from Roman citizens declaring their support for Brutus and their fear of Caesar’s ascent to power; he will throw them into Brutus’s house that evening. This plan certainly demonstrates Cassius’s deceitful, cunning personality.

31 Act I, scene 3 “Beware the ides of March”

32 Foreshadowing The strange events of March 14, 44 BC, as Casca and Cicero discuss what Casca has seen in the city, are interpreted that the gods are angry and will visit destruction upon Rome. Cassius interprets the events as a sign that Caesar must be stopped. In addition, in lines he states that he will comment suicide rather than live under Caesar’s reign as a king.

33 Do you think that Cassius would really commit suicide rather than live under Caesar’s rule as king? Or is he just being overly dramatic?

34 Cassius continues to plan the conspiracy! Cassius continues to have the fake letters delivered to Brutus to persuade him that action against Caesar is needed. He states that Brutus is three- fourths convinced and will join the plot upon their next meeting. As Act I ends, Casca and Cassuis discuss why Brutus is needed to make the conspiracy successful: “O, he sits high in all the people’s hearts; And that which would appear offense in us, His countenance, like richest alchemy, Will change to virtue and to worthiness.”

35 Check Your Understanding! Select all that are correct. The audience learns that the conspirators are anxious to have Brutus as their leader because A. he is shrewd and crafty. B. he will make a popular ruler. C. all the conspirators are timid, indecisive people. D. his reputation will bring respect to their cause.

36 Check Your Understanding! Select all that are correct. The audience learns that the conspirators are anxious to have Brutus as their leader because he will make a popular ruler and his reputation will bring respect to their cause. (choices B and D)

37 Act II The rising action builds with soliloquy; conspiracy planning and character development; serious discussion and promised revelations; storms and nightmares; flattery, irony, and suspense! Beware, it is the ides of March!

38 Act II Let’s first read over the plot summary you will find under your desks or review the online sources you are using.

39 “It must be by his death; and for my part, I know no personal cause to spurn at him, But for the general.”

40 Act II, scene1 This scene begins with Brutus’s soliloquy which informs the reader/audience of his intentions and why he feels he must join the conspiracy. He uses several metaphors and ends with a simile. Carefully read lines to find them.

41 Metaphors and Similes Caesar = the adder, a very poisonous snake Caesar is compared to someone who climbs “ambition’s ladder” and reaching the top, turns his back on those below The soliloquy ends with a simile: Caesar is the serpent’s egg which must be killed “in the shell.”

42 another letter... Lucius, Brutus’s servant brings him another letter (ironically, the audience knows it was written by Cassius). Brutus can read the letter because, “The exhalations whizzing in the air Give so much light that I may read by them.”

43 Before dawn, March 15, 44 BC Brutus and the conspirators in his garden

44 Characterization As the characters finalize their plans, read carefully to infer what the conversations and decisions reveal about each personality.

45 Who will be included? Who will be harmed? In lines decisions are made. Will Cicero be told about the conspiracy? Why would he be included/ Why not? Why does Brutus, unlike Cassius, not want to harm Antony. Who do you think is the better judge of Antony’s personality/human nature?

46 The Most Famous Anachronism in all of Shakespeare! Shakespeare uses this anachronism to indicate time and move the plot forward. What is the anachronism?

47 anachronism “ (Clock strikes.) Brutus. Peace! Count the clock” Cassius. The clock hath stricken three.”

48 Act II, scene 1 The scene continues in Brutus and Portia’s garden. After the conspirators leave, Portia has a serious and assertive discussion with her husband. He finally promises to tell her his secrets and plans.

49 Act II, Scene 2 It is the morning of the Ides of March; this scene takes place at Caesar’s house, where Calpurnia tell Caesar of her nightmare and interprets it that he must not go to the Senate today.

50 Calpurnia’s advice: Lines “When beggars die, there are no comets seen, The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” What do these lines really mean? Is symbolism involved? How are these lines also foreshadowing historical events?

51 Does Caesar fear death? “Caesar Cowards die many times before their death; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear, Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.” Act II, scene 3. lines 32-37

52 Do you agree? “Calpurnia “Alas, my lord, Your wisdom is consumed in confidence. Do not go forth today.” Act II, scene 2, lines 49-50

53 Shakespearean Irony Caesar: “ Good friends, go in and taste some wine with me. And we like friends will straightway to together.” Brutus (aside) “That every like is not the same, O Caesar, The heart of Brutus earns to think upon.” Act II, scene 2, ll

54 The Tragic Hero (s) The tragic hero is a man of high rank who possesses a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. As you read, research, and think about the drama, consider the tragic flaws of both Brutus and Caesar. Complete the following on your own JC notes. Tragic flaws of Brutus (use textual evidence): Tragic flaws of Caesar (use textual evidence):

55 Act II, Scene 3 What is the purpose ( not the content) of the soliloquy spoken by Artemidorus?

56 Check Your Understanding What does Portia know? After reading and listening to Act II, scene 4, list three to five adjectives which describe Portia’s state of mind:

57 What does Portia know? After reading and listening to Act II, scene 4, list three to five adjectives which describe Portia’s state of mind: 1. concerned 2. anxious 3. suspicious 4. unstrung 5. witless


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