Which theme describes this scenario best?
Since Cassius’ temperament and character starkly contrast with Brutus’, he is considered Brutus’ foil. Where Cassius is cunning, strategic, immoral, and power hungry, Brutus is idealistic, honest, ethical, and justice seeking.
To PINDARUS upon learning of BRUTUS’ “death”
Guide thou the sword.
PINDARUS stabs him
Caesar, thou art revenged,
Even with the sword that killed thee.
Runs on his sword
Caesar, now be still.
I killed not thee with half so good a will.
Were Cassius’ and Brutus’ deaths the work of fate or free will? Explain the ways that their deaths address the theme of fate vs. free will.
Students may discuss that the deaths of Cassius and Brutus, being suicides, are based on free will. Students may also argue that their deaths are a matter of fate because they were bound to die anyway as a result of being Caesar’s murderers: they simply did what Octavius’ army would have done later. Students might also argue for both fate and free will in that their deaths would be the natural retribution for having killed Caesar, but they still choose to take their own lives.
Mark Antony and Caesar
Mark Antony and Octavius
Brutus and Caesar
Cassius and Caesar
The effects of power
Betrayal and friendship
Honor and integrity
Fate vs. free will
Choose one of the above universal themes and explain the ways that The Tragedy of Julius Caesar develops it.
The effects of power: Students should discuss the ways that power was explored in the play including the conspirators’ reasons for the assassination, Caesar’s behavior in acts 1 through 3, Brutus’ and Cassius’ reactions to Caesar’s assassination, Mark Antony’s ascent to the Second Triumvirate, and the ways that the pursuit of power led to the Battle of Philippi.
Betrayal and friendship: Students should discuss the value of friendship to the Republic, the role of friendship and betrayal between Brutus and Caesar and Brutus and Cassius, the destruction of friendship noted in Brutus’ assassination of his friend, Caesar, and the destruction of friendship as evidenced by the argument between Brutus and Cassius in act 4. Friendship is sacrificed with Caesar’s death.
Honor and integrity: Students should discuss the role of honor and integrity among these men, particularly as it guides Brutus in his actions throughout the play.
Fate vs. free will: Students should discuss the ways that the events of the play highlight both fate and free will. Students may discuss Brutus’ stoicism, evident in his reaction to Portia’s death, and his own fate at the hands of Octavius’ army; Caesar’s acceptance of death despite the soothsayer and Artemidorus’ warnings; or Brutus and Cassius’ suicides.
Brutus’ story does not impact the play.
Brutus is the villain of the story.
Brutus’ story is the focus of the play.
Brutus is a minor character.
Round characters are one-dimensional characters with less important story lines; flat characters are multifaceted with story lines that are essential to the plot.
Flat characters are one-dimensional characters with less important story lines; round characters are multifaceted with story lines that are essential to the plot.
Flat characters usually have complicated story lines so that they can become the hero of the plot.
Round characters, like the servant, often have minor story lines.
Brutus and Mark Antony are both protagonists because they do not cause problems for each other.
Cassius is the antagonist; Mark Antony is the protagonist.
Only Octavius is an antagonist to Brutus; Mark Antony plays a minor role in the play.
Mark Antony poses problems for and works against Brutus, who strives to live the Republic’s ideals.
The soothsayer is an archetype because he represents a symbolic pattern: the Wise Old Man. He shares his wisdom with Caesar, trying to warn him to “beware the ides of March.” Though the soothsayer looks out for Caesar’s life, Caesar ignores his wisdom and is assassinated.
(Traits of the Tragic Hero archetype: noble heritage or elevated status; relatable to the audience; hubris or other tragic flaw hamartia; downfall leads to recognition.)
Brutus: Born of noble parents, Brutus is a Roman senator and a well-respected rhetorician (noble status). His naivete and idealistic approach to life motivate him to participate in the assassination plot (tragic flaw), yet his intense internal dilemma and his quest to preserve the Republic’s ideals make him relatable. Faced with Caesar’s heir, Octavius, and surrounded by the destruction of the Republic’s ideals, he takes his own life, realizing that Rome is now worse than it was under Caesar’s reign (recognition).
Julius Caesar: Caesar was the dictator of Rome (elevated status) who possessed great ambition, power, and pride (hamartia) but still was loved by the plebeians (relatable). As a result of his status and power, senators of the Republic planned his assassination to thwart him from gaining more power and to end what they considered tyranny. His death, however, brought forth the worst tyranny Rome had ever seen (recognition).
Rome enjoys great success and peace.
Brutus becomes the rightful king of Rome.
Cassius becomes the king of Rome.
Rome turns to rebellion and tyranny after his death.
Brutus and Cassius
Julius Caesar and Brutus
Caesar and Mark Antony
Lepidus and Mark Antony
Caesar is one dimensional: everyone adores him. His story line is essential to the plot.
Caesar is multifaceted: he is stubborn and proud, and the plebeians adore him, while the senators hate him. His story line is essential to the plot.
Caesar is one dimensional: everyone adores him. His story line is not essential to the plot.
Caesar is multifaceted: he is stubborn and proud, and the plebeians adore him, while the senators hate him. His story line is not essential to the plot.
Cassius stabs himself due to the information that Brutus has been killed; Brutus is killed by Octavius.
Cassius and Brutus are both killed by Octavius.
Cassius and Brutus are both killed by Mark Antony.
Cassius asks Pindarus to kill him with his own sword; Brutus runs onto his own sword, which is held by Strato.
Caesar’s tragic flaw is his ambition; Brutus’ flaw is his idealism.
Caesar’s tragic flaw is his shyness; Brutus’ flaw is his ambition.
Caesar’s tragic flaw is his idealism; Brutus’ flaw is his manipulative anger.
Caesar’s tragic flaw is his anger; Brutus’ flaw is his manipulative nature.