Which theme do Brutus and Cassius explore in saying farewell to each other before they begin the battle with Octavius’ army?
honor and friendship
Which rhetorical appeal does Mark Antony use in the above excerpt?
Mark Antony uses an appeal to pathos by first recalling the memory of Caesar’s military success and then showing his body stabbed by the conspirators.
How does The Tragedy of Julius Caesar explore the theme of betrayal?
As the tragic figure in the play, Brutus’ involvement in Caesar’s assassination, in which Brutus murders his friend, eventually leads to his downfall.
What is the difference between a major and a minor character?
A major character plays a big role in the plot, while a minor character has a less important story line.
How does Shakespeare use language and dialogue to create a sense of anxiety and frenzy among the conspirators just before the assassination?
The conspirators exchange short bursts of one-syllable words, which shows their urgency and fear that the assassination might not succeed.
In these lines from act 3.1, the conspirators are preparing to carry out their assassination plot. How does the dialogue between these characters reflect their emotions?
The short, quick exchanges suggest their urgency and anxiety about the plan.
How is the soothsayer an archetype in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar?
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.
Discuss the reasons the people sided with Mark Antony. Explain your answer by discussing each speaker’s use of persuasive language, including the appeals to pathos and logos as well as the rhetorical devices.
Brutus uses logos to explain logically and rationally the reason for Caesar’s assassination. He appeals to reason using epimone—that any Roman would want freedom for the Republic over Caesar’s dictatorship—to defend the assassination of Caesar, a man he did indeed love.
Mark Antony relies on the rhetoric of pathos, including using Caesar’s stabbed corpse, memories of his military career, tears, and heavy, emotional language to provoke the crowd. He manipulates them to turn against the conspirators by using subtle attacks against Brutus’ reputation. His rebuttal of Brutus’ claims calls into question Brutus’ honor and integrity. By the end of his speech, the Romans are rioting, calling for the deaths of Caesar’s murderers.
How do the poetic forms of Brutus’ and Mark Antony’s speeches reflect their characters?
Brutus’ speech is written in prose, which is used to show rational thought. Mark Antony’s speech uses blank verse, which matches his passion and emotion.
How does this exchange show the tension between Mark Antony and Octavius?
This exchange shows disagreement over military strategy; it recalls the disagreement between Mark Antony and Octavius in act 4 over Lepidus’ suitability for a role in the Second Triumvirate. It also foreshadows the future downfall of Rome as a result of their disagreement and hostility.
Caesar utters, “Et tu, Brute?” or “And you, too, Brutus?” when Brutus stabs him in the Senate. Based on what you learned about the relationship between Caesar and Brutus, explain Caesar’s reaction to Brutus’ action.
Caesar’s reaction singles out Brutus due to the magnitude of his betrayal. Caesar dearly loved Brutus and promoted him within the government; he didn’t suspect him of such treachery. His reaction shows surprise followed by resignation that the time of his reign is over and he should die
How much time has passed between the end of act 3 and the opening of act 4? In that time span between acts 3 and 4, what events occurred in ancient Rome?
Almost two years pass between acts 3 and 4. In the two years after Caesar’s death, Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavius formed the Second Triumvirate. They also recruited an army that would take on Brutus and Cassius’ army.
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.
Responses may vary but should include some or all of the following information:
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.
How do the tensions among the characters of the play also reflect the themes of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar?
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar deals with the themes of fate, betrayal, and honor, among others. The chief conflict of the play centers on the conspirators’ hatred of Julius Caesar’s increasing power, which could lead to his becoming king and to the dissolution of the Republic. This tension is about power, one of the play’s themes. Also, the men who will assassinate Caesar are his friends, and the play explores the limits of that bond as it is tested by ambition and power.
How does Caesar’s description of himself support or conflict with his past behaviors with other characters?
Caesar describes himself as “constant as a Northern Star,” meaning that he is reliable and consistent. He believes that he is the guiding light of Rome and his leadership is necessary. Yet, the audience notices from his interactions with Calpurnia and Decius that he is greatly affected by flattery. He changes his mind on a whim but especially if it will garner him more praise.