In the introductory scenes of Julius Caesar, Rome remains a democratic country. However, as the play progresses, rumour has it that Caesar is scheming to take a King’s crown and rule the empire. Through manipulation and skill, his popularity increases. He falsely impresses upon the masses that he is modest and has no such desires for power and domination of the people of Rome. Cassius is immensely passionate to conserve Rome’s democracy and he fears Caesar will rule over their freedom of speech. The Romans had expelled their monarchy centuries earlier. They enjoyed a democratic, republican system of politics.
Due to his fear, he writes to Brutus, a leading figure, for support in a conspiracy against Caesar. Cassius is fully aware that Brutus would give a moral standing, as, unlike himself, he is known for his rationality and calmness in such circumstances. Brutus is regarded as a loyal, devoted and well-respected man who can help to save Rome from its threatened tyranny. Through bravery and courage he surmounts Caesar before he can lay claim to the crown. Act 1, scene two creates a dramatic atmosphere. It erupts with a violent storm, deafening thunder and the most electrifying lightning.
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.
They were believed to be symbolic or mirrors of disorder in the country. As stated, Casca directly relates events in the sky to the “Gods”, who are likely to send “destruction. ” He believes that the supernatural happenings are “portentous”, that they can predict the future from them. Cassius becomes feared about Rome’s destiny, and presumes Caesar will rule if he does not react swiftly: “Ye Gods, it does amaze me/ A man of such a feeble temper should/ So get the start of the majestic world, / And bear the palm alone. ” (l. 2. 28-130) Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was roofless, performances took place in open air and daylight- scenes and their atmospheres were therefore effectively created through the speech of characters.
The night is made to seem hellish and horrifying, and also of ominous significance. The tempest is “dropping fire”, and there are intense descriptions of supernatural sights, a “lion” that “went surly by,” “ghastly women”, and “men all in fire. ” The world is stated to be “too saucy with the Gods”, so it “incenses them to send destruction. Act 1 reveals Caesar’s sheer ambition, power and political skill, and demonstrates, in addition to Brutus, how all men are born equal and should remain so. That no man should have total control or power over another. Cassius believes that a king was totally unnecessary. Moreoever, Cassius even stretches to the extreme of threatening suicide if Caesar should rule: “I had as lief not to be, as to live to be/ In awe of such a thing as myself. ” (l. 2: 95-96) Cassius speaks of Caesar’s cowardice, “his coward lips” (l. 2 122).
This hints at his contempt and hate towards him. He encourages Brutus to help him overcome tyranny and thus prevent Caesar gaining a mis-guided supremacy in the majestic Roman world. Cassius lays blame on Rome itself for allowing Caesar to act as a “big man”: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlinings. ” (l. 2 140-141) He feels ashamed and embarrassed of Caesar: “Like a colossus… we petty men/ Walk under his huge legs, and peep about/ To find ourselves dishonourable graves. ” (l. 2. 136-138).
He fervently believes the most gullible people of Rome are unwittingly accepting his fake, beguiling, charm over them. Casca, in Act 1, reveals Caesar’s manipulation of the crowd: “I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown, yet t’was not a crown neither, t’was one of these coronets; and as I told you, he put it by once: but all that to my vain thinking, he would fain have it. ” He takes a bitter attitude toward Caesar: “He was loath to lay his fingers off it. ” He tells Brutus how the crowd “clapped their/ chopped hands, and threw up their sweaty night-caps and/ uttered such a deal of stinking breath. (l. 2. 243-245)
He then continues: “I durst not laugh, for/ fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air. ” (l. 2,247) This language gives the impression Caesar is “testing the ground”, as an educated politician would. He refuses the King’s crown thrice in order to appear truly modest and humble. His crafted manipulations increase his popularity with the crowd and so Casca, Cassius and Brutus arrange to meet the next day. The sudden rattling thunder adds dramatic point to Casca’s speech. From Cassius’ reaction to the storm we also get an idea of Cassius’s character.
He appears to lack genuine anxiety, as compared to Brutus and Casca: ” I have walked about the streets,/ Submitting me unto the perilous night;/ And thus embraced, Casca, as you see,/ Have bared my bosom to the thunderstone;/ And when the cross blue lightning seemed to open the breast of heaven, I did present myself/ Even in the aim and very flash of it. ” (l. 3 46-52) He invites the thunder to strike him, conveying and impression of bravery and fearlessness, By comparison to Casca, Cassius is revealed as the most courageous: “You look pale, and gaze/ And put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder/ to see the strange impatience of the heavens. (l. 3. 59-61)
However, he still fears Caesar is a threat and that he is becoming increasingly powerful and important. Cassius believes the storms are acting as omens and correspond with disorder in Kingdoms: “Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man/ Most like this dreadful night,/ That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars/ as doth the lion in the Capitol;/ A man no mightier than myself, or me,/ in personal action, yet prodigious grown,/ and fearful, as these strange eruptions are. ” (l. 3. 72-78) Conspiracy is a theme highlighted in Act 1.
Cassius suggests the Romans should not give up, they must persevere: “But, woe the while, our fathers’ minds are dead, and we are governed with our mothers’ spirits. ” He claims the “yoke” and “sufferance” shows them as “womanish”. This suggests their meek endurance of slavery was lacking and feeble. Cassius takes the noble Roman view; instead of submitting to tyranny, he would rather commit suicide: “I know where I will wear this dagger then: Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius. ” He is portrayed as a truly dauntless, intrepid man.
Cassius states life never lacks the means to dismiss itself, and he is able to shake tyranny off at pleasure. He vividly expresses his thoughts of Caesar. He believes he is “vile” and indeed, “worthless. ” He is aware Brutus is a leading figure, and he requires support for the conspiracy. Brutus would give them a moral standing. He is modest and speaks the truth. Cassius orders Cinna to send a number of letters to Brutus praising him and hinting at Caesar’s ambition. Anger and jealousy motivate Cassius. He forges notes to Brutus, in a clever, astute manner.
However, his dishonesty and craftiness is suggested as cunning and, deceitful. Brutus is obviously well respected: “His countenance, like richest alchemy, will change to virtue and worthiness” and so he is wanted for the conspiracy and to overcome tyranny. Through Shakespeare’s language we can derive the beginning of Act 2 is at night. As all Elizabethan performances were in daylight, Shakespeare had to use dialogue and candles to create a night scene. On this occasion Lucius is asleep.
Brutus refers to stars and tapers: “Get me a taper in my study, Lucius:/ When it is lighted, come and call me here. ” (l. 2. -8) ” Exhalations,” meteors, were believed to have been drawn up as vapours from the Earth by the sun. They are, a baleful light by which to read: ” The exhalations whizzing in the air gives so much light that I may read by them. ” This creates suspense and an ominous atmosphere. The meteors are obviously omens or supernatural hints to Brutus. The conspirators meet at Brutus’ house in disguise, as Caesar may be observing them closely. Scene 1 creates tension. It is a secretive, enigmatic scene.
Brutus is confused as whether to kill Caesar, and the conspirators have “half their face buried in their cloaks. Suspense is created in Scene two. Cassius is doubtful over whether they could proceed with their plan, that of killing him, as Caesar may not show himself: “Whether Caesar will come forth today or no; For he is superstitious grown of late. ” (2. 2. 196-197) He feels Caesar may be aware of the conspiracy due to the weather producing omens and meteors to warn him: “It may be, these apparent prodigies, the unaccustomed terror of this night, and the persuasions of his ugurers, may hold him from the Capitol today. ” (2. . 198-201) The fact time is pressing, results in urgency and suspense.
“Peace count the clock,” ” The clock hath stricken three. ” Cassius has grown paranoid. However, Brutus remains collected and advises them to act nonchalantly: “Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily. / Let not our looks put on our purposes, but bear it as our/ Roman actors do, with untired spirits and formal constancy. ” (2. 2 224-227) In Act Two, characters and the relationships between them are effectively established. Brutus appears troubled.
He is jealous of Lucius’ ability to sleep: “I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly. ” (2. 1. 4) He shares a soliloquy with us. This allows us to understand Brutus’ character directly. In Shakespeare’s time the convention in a soliloquy was that the character involved, spoke the truth. Hence, Brutus does and we become increasingly close and warmly intimate with him. The motive of his soliloquy is to reveal his dilemma and state of mental torment. He regards Caesar as a friend, but he is aware, if he were to gain power, Rome, which he dearly loves, would turn out for the worse.
Brutus feels he should kill Caesar for the people of Rome: “I know no personal cause to spurn at him but for the general. ” He likens killing Caesar now, to killing a serpent when it is an egg, rather than waiting until it is fully grown: “Therefore, think him as a serpent’s egg/ which hatched would as his kind, grow mischievous,/ and kill him in the shell. ” (2. 1. 32-34) Brutus puts Rome before himself; this proves him a honourable man. He stays calm, weighs up the situation of Rome and how the people need to keep their democracy.
Many generations had democracy, Brutus does not want to jeopardise this and admit defeat to tyranny. We feel obliged to sympathise with Brutus; he is in a situation many have been in. It is a possible dilemma anyone could face; he must kill someone he loves to save the country he loves. Brutus states his situation is like a “phantasma”, or a “hideous dream. ”
The conspirators intrude on Brutus’ soliloquy and are “all welcome”. They form a close relationship. Cassius thinks Antony should be killed at the same time as Caesar: “Let Antony and Caesar fall together. (2. 2. 161) Brutus feels Antony is the only person that loves Caesar. He is also passionate about killing them both: “Let’s’ kill him boldly, but not, but not wrathfully; let’s carve him as a dish fit for the Gods. ” (2. 2. 172-173) However, Brutus feels there is no need to kill Antony. He believes Antony would commit suicide. “If he love Caesar, all that he can do is to himself, take thought, and die for Caesar. ” (2. 2. 186-189)
“For Antony is but a limb of Caesar. ” Brutus disagrees with killing Antony: “Let us be sacrifices, not butchers. (2. 2. 166) He wants to kill the principle of tyranny, not Caesar and Antony. From, (2. 1), we understand Brutus and Portia have a close relationship. Portia obviously is concerned about Brutus’ phantasmas: “ stole from my bed: and yesternight at supper you suddenly arose, and walked about musing and sighing, with your arms cross. ” Brutus clearly cares for her too: “Portia! What mean you? Wherefore rise you now? / It is not for your health thus to commit/ your weak condition to the raw, cold morning. ” (2. 1. 34-337) However, lines 240-247, he is described as having been out of character, hostile, and impatient toward her. He stared upon her with “ungentle looks” and “too impatiently stamped his foot. ”
Portia evidently wants Brutus to share his problem, so they can fight it together: “Dear my Lord,/ make me aquatinted with your cause of grief. ” (2. 1. 255-256). They are married and Portia expects them to share their troubles: “Within the bond of marriage, tell me Brutus,/ is it expected I should know no secrets/ that appertain to you. ” (2. 1. 80-283) Portia brings to Brutus’ attention, she is Cato’s daughter and of special worth: “I grant I am a woman, but withal a woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter. ” (2. 1. 292-295) She is also of noble worth as she stabbed herself: “I have made strong proof of my constancy/ giving myself a voluntary wound/ here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience/ and not my husband’s secrets? ” (2. 1. 299-301) This implies Portia, similar to Brutus, is of a noble character.
There are many aspects of these two scenes which relates to later scenes in the play. However, 5. onwards, is in my opinion of most importance. Cassius orders Pindarius to kill him: “Here, take thou the hilts, and when my face is covered, as tis now, guide thou the sword- Caesar, thou art revenged, even with the sword that killed thee. ” Earlier, Cassius stated he would rather choose death than defeat: “I know where I will wear this dagger then; Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius. ” This reflected his noble and patriotic nature. In Act 5 scene 5, Brutus is haunted by Caesar’s ghost: “The ghost of Caesar hath appeared to me… I know my hour has come. ” He knows it is time for him to die.
He is troubled by his actions, of stabbing Caesar in the Capitol. For Cassius did not encounter Caesar’s ghost, only Brutus, therefore, he feels he is the guilty one. Brutus’ friends refuse to kill him. This shows the great love they had for him. Proving he was a loyal and worthy man. Brutus feels he “shall have glory by losing this day” (5. 5 6) implying he has done right by his country. The irony of the play is highlighted as Brutus was “the noblest Roman of them all. ” Antony only, unfortunately, realises this at the end , after his death. Even though the play is titled Julius Caesar, Brutus appears the victorious one.