• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9

How does Shakespeare present ideas about order, rules, and authority in Julius Caesar? In your answer you should consider different interpretations and contextual influences.

Extracts from this document...


Kirsty Rees English literature How does Shakespeare present ideas about order, rules, and authority in Julius Caesar? In your answer you should consider different interpretations and contextual influences. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and in the years before and after it, the concept of order was a very important one. This was illustrated by Tillyard, a twentieth century writer, in a description of 'The Great Chain of Being', a six rank order of the universe according to Elizabethans. At the very top of the chain was God, then angels. Man followed, as he had existence, life, feeling, and understanding and so was above other creatures. At the very bottom of the Great Chain of Being, came those things that had mere existence- inanimate objects such as elements, liquids, and metals. Water was seen as nobler than earth, and gold, predictably more noble than lead, but these objects were regarded as inferior. Roman society, much earlier on, also had very strong ideas about order in the universe. The play Julius Caesar considers a man who is seen to go beyond his place in the order of existence. Julius Caesar appears to want to be King, although this was not his right by birth. Order plays an important part in Julius Caesar from the very first scene of the play, which was referred to as 'a brilliant and daring opening scene' by Frank Kermode (see bibliography). ...read more.


Again, honour is considered an important part of society, and forms the basis for many of the unwritten rules of Rome. It is this honour which leads Brutus to make the fatal mistake of allowing Marc Antony, as Caesar's closest friend, to speak second at his funeral, where his rhetoric sways the crowd to his side and eventually leads to the demise of the conspirators. The rules of honour also cause Brutus to forbear killing Marc Antony, another mistake, and one which Cassius, apparently unbound by these moral rules, berates him for. Due to these mistakes, Brutus becomes a 'victim of his own idealism', or so Professor Wells suggests in Julius Caesar- a critical guide. These rules of Roman society ultimately lead to the downfall of the two main characters- Marcus Brutus and Julius Caesar. Caesar is murdered by those closest to him as he broke the rules of a republic, and attempted to set himself up almost as a god. Ancestral rules bound both Elizabethans and Romans, but the bonds were far stronger in 44BC, when Julius Caesar was assassinated. When Cassius attempts to win Brutus around to his cause, he plays heavily on the duty of Brutus to follow his ancestor's footsteps in ridding the country of a would-be tyrant- Lucius Junius Brutus helped to drive out Tarquin the Proud in 509BC, and established the republic of Rome (this information comes from 'Shakespeare and the Romans', where it was adapted from Plutarch's 'Lives of the Greeks and Romans'. ...read more.


Marc Antony is one of only three characters who the audience perceives to have any real power over the fate of Rome. This appears to be mainly derived from his status of 'beloved of Caesar', but another source of this power is his skill in oratory, most ably demonstrated in AIII Sii, the famous 'friends, Romans, countrymen' speech. His power is consolidated in the post Julius Caesar world by his leading position in the new Triumvirate. Marc Antony is clearly the driving force in this group- at least in the beginning of the history, or in the play, as Plutarch informs us that soon after the triumvirate was formed, Octavius took the title of 'princeps' ('chief one'), calling into doubt Antony's true authority in Rome. In conclusion, Shakespeare uses the historical setting of Julius Caesar to display view of power and authority in a way which is still relevant to modern society, and all societies throughout history. Verse is used to signify authority, and many metaphors are also included, such as serpents: 'And therefore think him as a serpent's egg Which hatch'd, would, as his kind grow mischievous; And kill him in the shell.' Many are taken from the great chain of being prevalent in Elizabeth I's reign, most notably the description of a ladder in AII, si: 'Lowliness is young ambition's ladder' The interpretation of this play is tempered by Elizabethan ideals and beliefs of the time, but Roman honour is still a major part of the play. Word count- 2,376. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Julius Caesar section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Julius Caesar essays

  1. In William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", honour is displayed as a main theme throughout the ...

    Antony also says what Caesar has done to Rome and how could it seem ambitious. "When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff." Antony is going to start a civil war against the conspirators with the help of Octavious Caesar and Lepidus.

  2. By comparing and contrasting the dramatic presentation of Act 3 Scene 2 in the ...

    Saying he 'must' (L.137) not read it is more effective than 'will' not as it makes it seem more secret and forbidden. The fact that he has 'o'ershot' (L.147) makes it more intriguing for the crowd, as it gives the impression they can get more information out him.

  1. What is Julius Caesar like?

    In the first of the two quotations, he says that cowards die more than once because of the fear of death but he, like the valiant, "never taste of death but once." In second quotation, Caesar acknowledges the fact that he, like everyone else, will die and, like the valiant, he does not fear it.

  2. Show how Shakespeare demonstrates the use of persuasion with close reference to the play ...

    He manages to persuade them to let him speak at the funeral after Brutus, purely because of Brutus' nobility and kindness towards others. Mark Antony uses the emotion of guilt to make Brutus feel sorry for him 'O mighty Caesar!

  1. Explore the ways in which leadership is presented in the play 'Julius caesar'

    a hardship but decides to assist the public good by killing Caesar in order to avoid tyranny. He lacks confidence and ambition and this is illustrated with the fact that he does not lead the conspiracy but he takes part in it.

  2. William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

    Brutus says "Such an exploit [has] [Brutus] in hand, Ligarius, had [Ligarius] a healthy ear to hear it." Ligarius responds by saying "[Ligarius] here by discards [his] sickness." His quickness to get out of bed at the word of Brutus shows that he respects Brutus and thinks he is noble.

  1. Compare Shakespeare's presentation of the characters Brutus and Mark Antony. Julius Caesar was written ...

    In a way, this is the pivotal point in which Brutus seals his fate. If he had not given Mark Antony this opportunity, Mark Antony would have never been able to even fight for the rule of Rome. The power would have been in the conspirators hands.

  2. Brutus always acts in an honourable manner and is right to kill Caesar. Comment ...

    An example of this is when Cassius states, ?I have heard Where many of the best respect in Rome,? [Act I, scene ii, 58-62]. Despite the fact that it was Cassius who planted the seed in Brutus?s mind, it was Brutus who decided to follow through with the plan.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work