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GCSE: Julius Caesar
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Many people say the first true political state was the Republic of Rome before it was malformed to the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar is set just before this transformation; the conspirators led by Brutus set out but fail to stop this. In my opinion they also assist it, by killing Caesar they demonstrate to the public the infectivity and corruption of politics. Thus paving the way for an Emperor who comes in the form of Julius Caesar's adopted son Octavius.
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This has a huge difference between Brutus and Anthony in winning over the crowd. We know that Anthony is more successful as in between his speech the plebeians talk and say , 'methinks there is much reason in his saying' this is after Brutus's speech and by then all the people agreed with Brutus but now that Anthony has spoken then they all start agreeing with him rather than Brutus. Brutus comes out with bloody hands after killing Caesar, but when Anthony comes out he comes out with Caesars body.
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"Go bid the priests do present sacrifice, And bring me their opinions of success." (Caesar II.ii.5-6) There are two hugely differing interpretations of Caesar made available from the quotation above. The first interpretation is that Caesar is showing necessary qualities for a leader of the Roman Empire; he is being pious. It can be interpreted that Caesar is observing religion, making the gods sacrifices was considered a normal and religious thing to do - piety was considered a necessary quality in a leader in the Roman times.
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This shows that Brutus is persuaded easily when the good of Rome is mentioned. Brutus feels that if Caesar continues to be the leader of Rome then Rome will be run under dictatorship and Brutus feels that something must be done before this can happen (I.e. Caesar has to be killed.) This is Brutus's imperfection and is not a good feature of a leader. Contrasting with Brutus, Caesar is steady and cannot be persuaded easily. This is shown when the conspirators try to persuade Caesar to free Publius Cimber by flattering him but Caesar remains as 'constant as the northern star'.
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In his speech, he proves to the audience that Brutus is dishonourable. He does this by repeating "Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honourable man" many times in his speech. It is ironic now, after accusing Brutus of being dishonourable and proving he and Caesar were honourable, that Antony would do something so dishonest. 3. Antony is using Lepidus to take some of the suspicion or blame away from himself and Octavius. "[Antony and Octavius] lay these honours on this man, to ease [themselves] of divers slanderous loads."
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Compare Shakespeare's presentation of the characters Brutus and Mark Antony. Julius Caesar was written in 1599, a time in which the monarchy was in power in Britain
His wife was shown as having conceivement problems. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has woven through important themes; the most prominent being friendship and leadership. Within these two themes, Brutus and Mark Antony show completely different stances. Their close friendship to Caesar makes them interesting to compare as they react in different ways to the apparent growing ambition of Caesar and afterwards, his death. It is their reactions, which allows Shakespeare to use them to make the audience contemplate on the themes of friendship and leadership. In friendship or personal matters, Brutus places state before self. He had considered Caesar a true friend: "It must be by his death.
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In Shakespeare's time men would value honour and reputation. To get a good reputation you would have to be educated and have family and friends who respect you. It is clear though why the senators are not happy with Caesar ruling Rome. It is because they think he will become ruler of all men and make all of the men follow him and do everything he says and make them fear him. You can tell this because Flavious says " Who else would soar above the view of men And keep us all in servile fearfulness."
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Dictating what is to come through terse tidbits, these people may also be looked upon as superstitious. In the opening scene, one sooth-sayer, old in his years, warns Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March," an admonition of Caesar's impending death. Although sooth-sayers are looked upon by many as insane out of touch lower classmen, a good deal of them, obviously including the sayer Caesar encountered, are indeed right on the mark. Since they lack any formal office or shop, and they predict forthcomings without fee, one can see quite easily why citizens would distrust their predictions.
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Refer to Act 1 Scene 2, Act 2 Scene 1 and Act 4 Scene 3. Explain how the audience's perception of Cassius and Brutus is likely to change during these scenes. Pay particular attention to the language that Shakespeare uses.
Other themes that are explored are of loyalty and friendship and Shakespeare shows how these can have conflicting interests. Another major theme is honour and how respect is the most important thing in Roman society. In Act 1 Scene 2, we see that Cassius is jealous of Caesar and detests him. Cassius tries to convince Brutus to work with him to murder Caesar as he believes it is the right thing to do; he also tries to persuade Brutus that this is morally correct. Cassius starts to work on Brutus from line 35; he starts by making Brutus feel guilty to draw him on to conversation.
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Explain how the audience's perception of Cassius and Brutus is likely to change during these scenes. Pay particular attention to the language Shakespeare uses. (Act 1 Sc.2, Act 2 Sc.1, Act 4 Sc.3)
After Cassius arrives they are engaged in a heated argument where accusations are made and met. Cassius being intelligent himself uses a number of cunning methods to recover, which will be mentioned later on. After it is revealed that Portia has died and suddenly all the tension is brought to a stop and shortly the scene ends. In Act 1 Sc. 2 Cassius is by far the dominating character. He is very intelligent and has devious persuasive powers in this scene. Cassius's main objective in this scene is to persuade an innocent Brutus to actually murder the current leader of Rome, Julius Caesar.
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How does Shakespeare present ideas about order, rules, and authority in Julius Caesar? In your answer you should consider different interpretations and contextual influences.
Marullus and Flavius, two Tribunes (higher than commoners, otherwise known as plebeians) berate the plebeians for their fickleness in welcoming Caesar, who has gained power by fighting with fellow Romans. From a piece of verse spoken by Marullus (who the audience later learns has, with Flavius, been 'put to silence'), the audience is given a specific idea of the ranking order within Rome. Plebeians are referred to as 'you stones, you blocks, you worse than senseless things', showing an Elizabethan audience the extremely low ranking of these common people, so low that they are at the very bottom of the Chain of Being, at least in the Tribune's opinion).
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With close reference to the text explain how Mark Anthony manipulates the crowd after the death of Julius Caesar.
The aftermath of this speech was the consolation of the public and their total appreciation of this noble act. Concluding his speech, Brutus attempting to fully reassure the crowd, requested Mark Anthony to add a few words in appreciation of what he had just done. Anthony was a close companion of Caesar so his approval of the conspiracy would be very valuable in proving to the public the righteousness of the act. However Anthony, either for his own benefit or for justice, spoke against the conspiracy. This speech was highly effective and probably the turning point of the entire play.
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Cassius now speaks his soliloquy, in which we see his true character. He is a sly, cunning, evil and jealous person. His intentions for killing Caesar are not for the best interests of Rome, but, for his own personal reasons, unlike Brutus, who is doing it purely for the sake of Rome. "And after this, let Caesar seat him sure; For we will shake him or worse days endure." From this soliloquy, you can see that he has thought this through very well, particularly how he will convince Brutus to be part of the conspiracy.
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Consider the characters of Brutus and Antony from as many angles as possible indicating how the language used helps to convey a particular impression of them.
"let him be Caesar" Antony, who uses his cunning to sway the crowd, changes their opinion. The crowd are fickle and Antony uses it to his advantage, eventually the crowd believe what Antony has said and are all against the conspirators. "There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony." Antony tricked the conspirators, by befriending them each "I doubt not of your wisdom. Let each of you render me his bloody hand", therefore giving him good reason to give Caesar a funeral. He saw their point of view in killing Caesar, but he was just saying that to so they would let him speak.
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He's suggesting that if Caesar remained the leader then the plebeians would become slaves but now that Brutus has killed him they will remain free men. When the crowd hear this they start agreeing with Brutus they know he is a intelligent man and by all the things he has told them he must have been right to do what he done. Everything Brutus says is said for one reason; to make him look like the good guy. He tells the crowd 'I slew my best lover for the good Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.'
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Explain how as a director, you would present the speeches of Brutus and Anthony (Act III Scene II), so as to engage and influence the audience.
His fear might also have diminished his belief in his actions. I thought this because he begins his speech to the people by defending himself and gathering people's support-"Believe me for mine honour" and "Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his."-instead of going straight to his reason for killing Caesar. Shakespeare also writes out Brutus' speech in prose-this suggests that Brutus was trying to bring himself down to the people's level to gain trust. Up to this point, Brutus has defended himself quite successfully, but then his naivety showed as he allowed Anthony to speak.
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Along with him being kind to his country and unselfish he also had his faults; he was a bad judge of character. He believed that his close friend Julius Caesar was ambitious; he obviously over looked the fact that Julius Caesar thrice refused a kingly crown. Brutus' aim was shown during his speech when he is trying to justify the murder, he tries to pacify the crowd when he claims that his aims are for the good of Rome, that he did no want Rome to be part of a monarchy and that staying the way they are would only bring benefits to the people.
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The duo criticise the crowd, shaming them they claim the crowd has forgotten their hero Pompey and praising the 'unworthy' Caesar instead: "Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he [Caesar] home...knew you not Pompey?" [Act 1; scene 1 lines 35-36] This partnership, in crime according to Caesar, is quickly disposed of in the next scene; the news announced by Casca. So perhaps Flavius' last words may be deemed ironic and be seen to hold honesty in them: "These growing feathers plucked from Caesar's wing Will make him fly an ordinary pitch, Who else would soar above the view of men, And keep us all in servile fearfulness."
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It is the conspirators' inability to see this that marks their eventual downfall. Caesar, however, despite all his faults, has the vision to see this, and hence has more power, than all the conspirators together. It is in the second scene that we have a series of clues about Caesar's untimely end. First of all, while celebrating the feast of the Lupercal, a soothsayer confronts the emperor and his gathering. This conversation tells us a lot about Caesar. Soothsayer: Caesar! Caesar: Ha! Who calls?(silence is asked for). Speak; Caesar is turned to hear.
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Explain how Mark Antony was able to persuade the plebeians of Rome that the killing of Caesar was a diabolical act.
Brutus then uses another persuasive technique; pauses. As the plebeians are fickle they are easily convinced and will share their opinions quickly "None Brutus none!" which shows the plebeians have already forgotten Caesar. After the reply from the plebeians Brutus pronounces, "I have done no more to Caesar than you shall do to Brutus." This is a honourable remark from Brutus as he would rather be one of the plebeians than kill his way to be king. "Brutus had rather be a villager" this shows that he is honourable and what he tells the plebeians is the truth, which persuades the plebeians to be on his side.
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Plays containing battles, many characters, not-noble characters etc were know as histories. Julius Caesar therefore could be described as a history in this sense. However, this could be disputed as tragedies classed by genre can also describe the basic plot of Julius Caesar i.e. the protagonist, a conspiracy, many deaths at the end etc. This therefore gives us an undecided meaning when classing by genre as Julius Caesar fits both descriptions. By comparing it to a secondary source such as Plutarch could help to answer the question.
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Consider the Two night scenes (1.3, 2.1) in terms of their dramatic effectiveness: their thematic significance; and their relationship to the play as a whole.
There appears to be a momentous tension rising in the ensuing darkness. It hints at the ominous approach of Cassius' plot. The powerful effects suggest the storms are "omens": "The most mighty Gods, by token, send/ s Such dreadful heralds to astonish us." (l.3:55-56) The thunder machine as well as Shakespeare's vivid language set the scene. They create a feeling of terrifying darkness and absolute discord; necessary for a meeting of future murderers and conspirators. Severe storms and havoc in the sky were believed by the Romans and the Elizabethans to symbolise warnings from God or to forwarn people of oncoming trouble.
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When Caesar's ghost came to Brutus, it could have been a real ghost, but it also may have been Brutus's conscience coming back to haunt him. After all, stabbing one's best friend is dishonorable, and Brutus was an honorable man, so anything that he did that was dishonorable was not acknowledged. Brutus did not associate anything dishonorable with himself, and so when he did do something dishonorable, he did not admit it to himself. Brutus died at the end of the play of his own will.
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Using Particularly Act 3 Scenes 1 & 2 and Act 4 Scene 1 How Far Do You Agree With- Mark Antony’s Description Of Himself As A ‘Plain, Blunt Man’?
Other strong evidence to suggest his loyalty is when he offers the conspirators his life while their hands are still bloody: ' If I myself, there is no hour so fit As Caesar's death's hour, nor no instrument Of half worth as those your swords, made rich With the most noble blood of all this world... Now, while your purple hands do reek and smoke, Fulfil your pleasure, live a thousand years' Basically, what Antony is means, is that if the conspirators plan to kill him then they should do it now, as he cannot think of a better time or place for him to die than with his master, by the same instruments and by the same men.
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Brutus is the first character to speak, 'stand ho!' this is a direct order and immediately gets the audience to focus on what is about to happen with the characters, this is very engaging. Brutus tells us that he is displeased with Cassius and that he shall find out what is going on. "Your master...Hath given me some worthy cause to wish things Done undone: but if he be at hand, I shall be satisfied" This builds up tension again because the audience is not sure what is going on with Brutus and Cassius and is left in suspense, the audience hasn't seen Brutus and Cassius for a while and this provokes their interest, they want to know more.
- Word count: 2250