Julius Caesar is a play written by one of our greatest literary scholars, William Shakespeare. The play is set in 44 BC, during a time where Rome faced social revolution, demonstrations of public violence, and civil wars. Julius Caesar and his character was strong but arrogant. He was a dictator among a growing Roman Empire, infecting the aristocracy of senators who governed the states political order.
Julius Caesar had one mission: to undermine and bypass traditional practices and socially reform Rome. When you read the play it is clear Caesar was a man standing alone, among a pack of wolves ( Brutus, Cassius, Casca, other Liberators ). Caesar’s power and a public view, that the people of Rome thought of him as a god, threatened the senators and his false friends. He made ambitious and loyal steps towards a greater empire. That ambition and drive offended the senate and became the manipulation tool for Cassius to convince Brutus that Caesar was a bad leader.
Caesar’s ignorance, honourable nature and his choice to dismiss evidence of Rome’s conspiracy to assassinate him, are what lead to the tragic truth, the senate stabbing Caesar to death ( In Act II, Scene III, Artemidorus tries to warn him with a written letter, telling him of the conspirators and the plot to assassinate him. Caesar also ignores his wife’s pleas and cries, sharing with him her premonitions and dreams).
The script clearly conveys vivid impressions of ‘Tragedy’. The play features great characters, plot, theme and an ancient language, only a true scholar can embrace. Yet, even with the obscure nature of words and language, in some strange way, it challenged me to find greater understanding. The complex script could not match the obvious plot, a tragic tale of death and murder because of power, deceit, jealousy and misconception.
The play is structured and styled with an intense exploration of suffering, smothered with evil intent and action. Julius Caesar presents a distinguished rank of characters surrounded by conflict and the thirst for blood. Shakespeare emphasises the idea of leadership and a superior power suffering the steep fall from prosperity to misery and death, evident when the senate murders Caesar, “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept”.
To be honest, I was confused at times and the language was rather difficult to understand, but it never confused the ‘tragic’ thread. The very nature of Shakespeare’s script is ‘Tragedy’. Julius Caesar embodies emotions generated by a spectacle of suffering. Even though there a search for some kind of divine order, the play displays characters overriding a natural justice. Shakespeare also gives us the chance to understand and acknowledge a real ‘tragic hero’ in Brutus.
A selfless, noble and trustworthy character who is not perfect and makes a grave decision, but truly is a good man, Brutus remains honest and moral to the end. He possesses fine human qualities and characteristics overriding his act of murder. The tragedy is that his heart was devoted to one cause ‘for the good of Rome’. His obsession and naive ways were key factors leading to his downfall and death. However, even after he participates in the assassination, Antony, Caesar’s best friend declares Brutus to be honourable and noble, Act V, Scene V, where he says, “Brutus was the noblest Roman of them all and he loved Caesar less and Rome more.” I believe that moment to be my lesson and understanding that Brutus is a tragic hero because even after killing Caesar he could be remembered for his noble convictions.
In my opinion, tragedy is defined by a deep pain, grieving an incomprehensible loss, misfortune and death! When I researched tragic events throughout history, it always ended with death, like the JFK assassination, John Lennon assassination and Jesus crucified. Shakespeare provides notions of tragic circumstance and emotional catastrophe throughout. Julius Caesar is an example of fine art which is both fascinating and perplexing. I guess the most tragic element to this story is the senate robbing Rome and it’s people of ever knowing if Julius Caesar and his leadership would have been noble and honourable while leading the empire into future prosperity.