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Analysis of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

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Cassie Brown

on 26 November 2014

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Transcript of Analysis of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Though, at the beginning of the play, it appears that Brutus doen't have a flaw, it is evident that he does by the end. Looking at the decisions that Brutus makes throughout the play, it is obvious that he is too trusting. He doesn't question the things that need to be questioned. He basically just goes along with the conspirators without questioning their motives, as well as trusting Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral, without staying to make sure that Antony follows the guidelines
set by him and Cassius.
Learns From His Flaw
Right after this second moment of realization, Brutus contemplates if it would be better to be captured or die. Earlier in the play, he told Cassius that he did not look upon suicide as a good thing, but now he is thinking about suicide himself. During this time, he realizes that he should've questioned what the effects of joining the conspiracy and killing Caesar would have on those he loves. He also realizes how he shouldn't have doubted Antony's power, without Caesar, and trusted Antony in the first place, especially to let him speak at Caesar's funeral. When he learns that these mistakes led to everything that had gone wrong in his life
he no longer wanted to live.
Traits of a Tragic Hero
1. Tragic heroes are royal and/or prosperous, basically, they have a lot to lose.
2. He/she posseses a tragic flaw which leads to their downfall.
3. Near the end of the play, the tragic hero recognizes their flaw and realize that the tragedy is his/her fault.
4. The tragic hero ultimately learns from their mistake and is enlightened by the tragedy.
Aristotle's 3 major plot points of tragedy
1. The reversal, or peripeteia, is when an event, within the play, appears to be good but actually turns out to be terrible.
2. The scene of suffering, or pathos, occurs when everything begins to fall apart. These events effect both the tragic hero, and those that he/she loves and cares about.
3. The moment of recognition, or anagnorisis, is when the tragic hero of the tragedy realizes that these terrible events were caused by his/her tragic flaw.
The Reversal in Julius Caesar
Soon after the conspirators kill Caesar, they have a funeral for him. Brutus is the first to speak, and while he is speaking, the citizens of Rome begin to move onto his side. By the end of his speech the citizens are encouraging Brutus to become ruler and take Caesar's old position. They fully support Brutus and agree with his decision to murder Caesar. Brutus is relieved that the citizens agree with his actions, and leaves to go speak elsewhere. At this point everything begins to be looking good, but soon everything goes
very wrong.
The Scene of Suffering in Julius Caesar
Though Brutus, the tragic hero, suffers all throughout this play, there is one scene where his suffering pushes him over the edge. The first prominent time that Brutus suffers is when he learns that his wife has committed suicide. Later, when he is visited by Caeasar's ghost, he suffers more because he is faced with the guilt, and regret, of killing his close friend. He also suffers when he sees that Cassius is dead. After all of these times of suffering, Brutus looks back on these events. This is the main scene of suffering. Brutus has realized that everything is his fault and he is soon either going to die or be captured, by Antony,
Octavius, and Lepidus' army.
Overall, the tragic hero, Aristotle's major plot points, and themes in tragedies are important to the development, and point, of the play. Both the tragic hero, as well as the major plot points contribute greatly to the theme and overall the reader's abilty to understand the play. These two elements also help guide readers to the theme and lesson of the play. For these reasons, these three elements are very important to the formation of tragedies and greatly aid in comprehension of the play.
Analysis of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Brutus as a Tragic Hero
Plot and Theme of the Play
The Moment of
Recognition in Julius Caesar
Royal and/or Prosperous
Though Brutus isn't exactly royal, he is defintely prosperous. He is well-liked, pretty much all throughout Rome, and is often called noble and honorable within this play. He definitely has a lot to lose, including his position within the Senate, the respect he receives from much of Rome, as well as his wife, Portia.
Posses a Tragic Flaw
Hamartia Leads to
Downfall
Brutus' motive for killing Caesar is that he
thinks that it would be best for Rome. Contrastingly, most of the other conspirators just want to kill Caesar because they're jealous of his power, though they mask this motive in order to get Brutus to join the conspiracy. If Brutus would've recognized that the others were just killing Caesar for their own benefit, Brutus probably wouldn't have helped them. Therefore, Brutus should've questioned their motives and he would've learned that it wasn't a good idea to kill Caesar, because the citizens of Rome aren't going to believe that they killed
him for the good of Rome, they are going to assume they had personal motives.
Hamartia Leads to
Downfall
After the conspirators have already murdered
Caesar, Antony requests to speak at Caesar's funeral. Cassius is reluctant to let him do this, but Brutus says that it will help their case more then hurt it, showing that they are giving Caesar a proper funeral, and also that Antony agrees with what they did. At this point, Cassius still doesn't want him to speak but Brutus instead tells Antony that he can. Brutus also sets three rules for Antony's speech. The first is that he can't blame the conspirators for Caesar's death, but only say good things about Caesar. He also has to state that the conspirators gave him permission to speak. Lastly, he has to give his speech right after Brutus. Brutus belives that these rules will work, he
trusts Antony, but Antony finds a way around the
rules and fulfills the reason why Cassius was
scared to let him speak in the
first place.
Hamartia Leads to Downfall
After the conspirators stab Caesar to death, it is
obvious that everyone is horrified. Most don't believe (correctly) that the murderers did this for the good of Rome. They understand that they did this just because they were jealous of Caesar's power. Though Brutus didn't do it for this reason, most assumed that he did, which shows that he shouldn't have joined the conspiracy in the first place. This then leads to Caesar's funeral where the conspirators are hoping to convince everyone that they did this for Rome, not for themselves. Brutus speaks first and everyone is on his side, it is then Antony's turn, and Brutus trusts him so much that he leaves and doesn't even make sure that he follows the guidelines. Antony makes an emotionally appealing
speech and ends up creating a large
following of citizens who he
indirectly encourages to get revenge
for Caesar's death.
Hamartia Leads to Downfall
Lots of Roman citizens are now extremely angry
with the conspirators and vow to burn down their houses. This leads to Brutus and Cassius fleeing the city. Soon after his speech, Antony meets with Octavius and Lepidus to form the next triumvirate, who will lead Rome. While meeting, the triumvirate looks at a list of names and decides who needs to be killed. At the same time, Brutus and Cassius form an army, knowing that the new triumvirate will come after them. Soon after this, Brutus finds out that Portia has committed suicide. Later, a battle begins between the two armies at Phillipi and
it becomes apparent to Brutus and Cassius that
they are not going to win. By this time
everything basically
falls apart.
Hamartia Leads to Downfall
Soon, Cassius decides he wants
to die and has his servant hold out a sword so that he can` run into it and kill himself. Once Brutus discovers that Cassius is dead he realizes that defeat or capture is
inevitable, and he no longer has anyone who cares about him nor who he really cares about.
Recognition of
Tragic Flaw
Brutus kind of recognizes his tragic flaw in two parts. The first time he begins to realize what he did led to eveything going wrong was when Caesar's ghost visits him. He realizes that he shouldn't have joined the conspiracy and help kill Caesar. He also realizes that his actions led to his wife's death. Also, after his downfall, he and several members of his army are basically hiding behind a rock, waiting for the opposing army to come. Here, he recognizes how his flaw, and decision to join the conspiracy,
led to his complete downfall.
The Reversal in Julius Caesar
Antony then comes up to speak and he begins to win the support from the crowd and, consequently, take it away from Brutus and the conspirators. He quickly wins their complete loyalty and they begin to want revenge for the murder of Caesar. They vow to burn down all of the conspirators houses. Once Brutus and Cassius learn about this they quickly flee the city. Though it seemed like the conspirators were going to get away with the murder of Caesar, it is soon obvious they are not.
The moment when Brutus, the tragic hero, recognizes that everything is his fault, and realizes he has a flaw, is around the same time of the main scene of suffering. At this time, he thinks about everything that has gone wrong recently, and discovers that everything was caused by him joining the conspiracy. He also realizes that he shouldn't have trusted all of these men, because it has backfired on him. If he hadn't joined the conspiracy in the first place, none of this would've happened. He realizes that he has a tragic flaw: he is too truting and doesn't question things
that need to be.
Themes in
Julius Caesar
There are several themes, as well as morales, that can be taken from this tragedy. One theme is that you need to stand up for your beliefs, and not go against them just because those around you are. Another is that you need to make sure you are balanced between how much you think of yourself versus how much you think of others. It is often good to think of others first, but you still have to stand up for yourself, and choose what is right in your mind.
Theme of
Questioning the Effect of Your Actions
Almost everyone has been told at one time or another to "think before you speak," which is represented in the play,
Julius Caesar
. As explained earlier, Brutus joining the conspiracy and allowing Antony to speak to the crowd led to Brutus' downfall. If Brutus had just thought more about joining the conspiracy, he probably would've decided against it. Brutus was very intelligent and if he had just thought about what would happen if he joined the conspiracy he would've avoided the pressure to join it.
Main theme
of Julius Caesar
The conspirators, in general, also should have questioned
the effect that killing Caesar, the ruler of the Roman Empire, would've had on the empire, as well as themselves. If they had thought about this, many of them would've decided against the murder, which would probably have caused the murder to never happen. They would've seen how the Roman citizens would look down upon this, and also that Rome would be a disaster. The conspirators said their motive was to protect Rome from tyranny, but by doing this, they put Rome in a worse position than they would be in with
Caesar as a tyrant.
Importance of Brutus as
the Tragic Hero to this Theme
Brutus plays a large role in shaping this theme within this play. Most importantly, he is the main victim of not questioning the effect his actions would have on himself, as well as others. In two cases, both with joining the conspiracy and letting Antony speak, we see how not thinking about the consequences our actions have can lead to our downfall. Shakespeare uses his tragic flaw of not questioning, or thinking things through, to show us an example of this theme. Through Brutus, we learn that if we don't think about what our actions will impact in the long run, we can end up like him, with no one who cares about him nor who he cares about. Without Brutus as the tragic
hero, this theme in Julius Caesar would
not be as clear nor
defined to readers.
Importance of Aristotle's
Three Major Plot Points of Tragedy to this Theme
The three plot points, explained earlier, also help in making this theme understandable and straightforward. The theme follows along with the plot points pretty closely and shows how the theme develops throughout the play. It is evident that Brutus' flaw, which is closely related to this theme, is the cause of basically everything in the plot of this play, and defintely of the three major plot points. Brutus, not thinking about his actions and their effects, leads to the reversal, the suffering, as well as the recognition.
Lesson Learned from this Theme
From this play, especially from this main theme, we can learn many things. The main thing we can learn from Brutus' mistake of not questioning his actions, is that if we do the same thing, it can lead to our downfall and everything going wrong in our life and the lives' of those around us. We can also learn that it is important to predict what effect our decisions will have, and make the right decision based on those predictions. Overall, we need to think before
we act or speak.
Significance of
Elements of Tragedies
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