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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

Julius Caesar

Updated: Aug 15, 2021

Setting: 44-42 BCE

Rome, Italy

Tragedy


"O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!"


My really abridged plot summary: Julius Caesar is basking in the glory of his recent triumph against his rival, Pompey. A soothsayer warns him "beware the ides of March", but he ignores him and continues celebrating. Brutus and Cassius are buddies and are close to Caesar. Brutus is afraid that Caesar will become king and overturn the Republic, and Cassius agrees. Cassius convinces Brutus to join in a plot against Caesar under the agreement that Mark Antony will be spared (because Brutus is honorable). Portia, Brutus' wife, tries to get Brutus to confide in her but he refuses. Calphurnia warns her husband, Caesar, not to go to the Senate because she had a nightmare about his fate, but he ignores her. These men really should have listened to their wives. Now, I would say *spoiler alert* here but this is literal ancient history by now, so if you don't know how this story goes, that's on you. The conspirators stab Caesar to death, and this is where we get "et tu, Brute?". Mark Antony grieves for Caesar but convinces Brutus to let him speak at the funeral. Brutus justifies his actions to the people of Rome, but Antony ultimately wins the crowd over ("friends, Romans, countrymen..."). Octavius, Caesar's successor, and Antony go to war with Brutus and Cassius. Brutus and Cassius have a big fight in the famous tent scene but then they make up. Portia *dies* herself at some point by "swallowing fire" and we literally never see her again, or Calphurnia for that matter. The ghost of Caesar haunts Brutus that night. Cassius sees the battle not going in his favor and *dies* himself (literally one minute too early because he was actually doing good... #tragic). Brutus also *dies* himself (did you forget this was a #tragedy?). Antony and Octavius find his body. Antony says Brutus was "the most noblest Roman of all" because the other conspirators acted out of ambition, but he did it for the benefit of Rome, it was his duty. The End :(


My favorite quotes:

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.

~Brutus, III.ii

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves.

~Cassius, I.ii


Ratings:

  • Overall Impression: 9- This play is so freaking good!!! The sheer political chaos!!!

  • Use of Language: 9- It is SO GOOD!!! Especially THE tent scene. This play has too many iconic lines to count.

  • Protagonist Arc: 10- Brutus. Brutus. Brutus.He is arguably as interesting of a protagonist as some of Shakespeare's greatest. His sense of ethics and duty to his country are so interesting to watch clash with the ambition of those he is surrounded by. It is very apparent that he operates very differently from Cassius, but you cannot help but be so drawn into their relationship. Also, can we talk about his response to Portia's death?!?! He is unable to properly grieve for his WIFE because he is in the middle of preparing for a battle that he is probably not going to win. I don't think his lack of reaction is because he is "cold", but rather he is forced to be stoic about it because he has a responsibility to his troops. Again, he is placing duty about his own well-being.

  • Female Characters: 8- I'm going to start off by saying that I love Portia and Calphurnia, but it is their lack of stage time that is losing them points. Portia appears to speak twice and Calphurnia only once. While their roles in the action are incredibly important, they are both high key dismissed by their husbands, regardless of the fact that they were right. Also, what the heck happens to Calphurnia? I wish we got one more scene between Portia and Brutus before she died.

  • Fits Genre: 10- Brutus and Cassius' deaths are so tragic. AND Portia's death too holy cow. Yeah and the what Mark Antony says when he finds Brutus' body is just too good. There's a lot of death here.

  • Overall Enjoyment: 9- #Bloodonstage!!! The political intrigue is awesome and there are some great heated arguments. I just wanted more for my girl Portia.

  • Hype Worthy: 10- This is such a great read and I think it deserves to be on the same hype tier as Hamlet & Co.

  • Emotional Impact: 10- Brutus and Cassius' deaths were really impactful, but their goodbye was devastating.

Total: 75/80

Average: 9

*5 out of 5 stars*



Fun Fact: Shakespeare wrote this play as a response to political anxiety surrounding Elizabeth I's decline and the end of her rule. The events of this play are made to parallel the shift in politics in Elizabethan England in 1599.

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