English Notes (Class 10)

CBSE Class 10 English Drama 2 Julius Caesar

Written by cbselearners
Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare

 

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare

 

Summary

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a tragedy believed to have been written in 1599. It is one of the several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history, which also include ’Coriolanus’ and ’Antony and Cleopatra’.
Although the title is Julius Caesar, Caesar is not the most visible character in its action, appearing alive in only three scenes.
 Julius Caesar is an icon of the political life of Rome. He has expanded the Roman Empire and bought booties for it. The play starts with Caesar wandering about in his night-gown and is kept awake by Calpurnia’s nightmares. She had been calling out in her sleep about supernatural omens that spelled disaster.
Calpurnia believes that such bad omens are a premonition of evil and some harm would befall Caesar. Caesar rebuffs her, refusing to give in to fear. Caesar deems the signs to apply to the world in general and refuses to believe that they bear ill for him personally.
Finally, Calpurnia convinces Caesar to stay at home. Decius Brutus jeopardizes (put someone or something into a situation in which there is a danger of harm) Calpurnia’s plan and forces Caesar to go to the Senate, where the senators were waiting to offer a crown to him.
On his way, Caesar rejects the petition of Cimber to revoke the orders for his brother’s punishment. This proves to be the last nail in his coffin. Immediately afterward, Casca and other senators along with Brutus stab Caesar. Caesar’s last words are, “Et Tu Brute?” which mean “you too Brutus?”
Mark Antony is too dumbstruck to see Caesar’s dead body in a pool of blood but tactfully restrains himself from making any statement. He requests Brutus for allowing him to make a funeral speech. Dismissing Cassius’ objection, Brutus allows him but only after he has himself addressed the people. Antony uses his excellent oratorical skills very cleverly and succeeds in inciting the mob to mutiny and wreak havoc against the conspirators. Brutus and others have to flee for their lives and Octavius Caesar arrives to clinch the victory for Antony and save Caesar’s honor.

 

Important Questions


Q. Caesar’s murder is rightly avenged by Antony. Comment.

A. Casca, Decius Brutus, Brutus, and conspirators killed Caesar on the pretext of him being ambitious. All the conspirators were actually jealous of his growing popularity. Only Brutus was the one who was actually concerned about the betterment of Rome. When Antony came to the Senate he saw Caesar’s body lying in a pool of blood.
He told Brutus to kill him also and with the same weapon with which he had killed Caesar. Brutus told him to join hands with them and agreed to be their friends but at heart, he was full of anger and wanted to take revenge for Caesar’s murder. He requested Brutus to allow him to give a funeral speech to the people of Pome.
Brutus allowed him to do so. Antony revealed to the mob how Caesar loved them and that he had given everything to the people of Rome in his will. His scathing and sarcastic speech drove the mob crazy. It enraged them and the masses set the house of conspirators on fire.


Q. Why did Caesar’s will infuriate the Romans?

A. Caesar’s will was the most powerful weapon in the hands of Antony against the conspirators who were saying that they had assassinated Caesar as he was ambitious. The revelation of the contents of the will be proved to be a turning point in the entire episode. According to the will, all the Romans were to get seventy-five silver coins from the property of Caesar and the private arbors of Caesar were to become a national property.


Q. How did Antony prove that Caesar was not ambitious?

A. Antony is a great diplomat and orated proved Caesar’s innocence very meticulously. He informed the Romans that Caesar refused to accept the crown thrice when it was offered to him on the eve of Lupercal.
If he had been ambitious, he must have accepted it. He also told the Romans that Caesar had bought many captives from the battlefield. Whatsoever amount, he got as ransom to set the captive free, he put it in the National Treasure. When the poor wept, Caesar also wept.
Reading the will of Caesar, Antony disclosed to the Romans that Caesar had left seventy-five silver coins for every citizen and the private arbors of Caesar were to become a national property. These evidences were adequate to prove that Caesar was not ambitious.


Q. How did Decius Brutus interpret Calpurnia’s dream?
A. The misinterpretation of Calpurnia’s dream b Decius Brutus proved fatal for Caesar. Otherwise, Caesar had made up his mind to remain at home on that unfortunate day. Decius Brutus said that Calpurnia’s dream that bold was coming out of Caesar’s statue signified that the Romans would get reviving blood.
It would be preserved as an object of reverence. It would serve as colors added o a coat of arms. So Decius Brutus succeeded in persuading Caesar to go the senate-house where his death was waiting for him in the daggers of the conspirators.


Q. How did justify Caesar’s assassination?

A. The shrewd, cunning and manipulating Cassius had been successful in poisoning the ears of noble Brutus. After Caesar’s assassination, Brutus told the Romans that he loved Caesar more than any RomAnswer. But he loved the democracy of Rome more than anyone and anything.
So he assassinated Caesar when he felt that the growing ambition of Caesar would be perilous to Roman democracy and he was not ready to accept it at any rate as he was a great patriot.


Q. Why did Julius Caesar deny the repeal of banishment of Publius Cimber?

A. Caesar was a great ruler and administrator. He was very disciplined and strict in taking a decision. He would take the decision in the welfare of Rome and RomAnswer. Giving a reply to the request for the repealing.
Caesar said that if he was moved by prayer on the point, one-day prayer would move him completely. He was as constant as the northern star. He was of the view that the repeat of banishment of Publius Cimber would not be in the interest of Rome.


Q. What convinced Caesar to go to the senate house?

A. Decius Brutus says that the dream of Calpumia has been wrongly interpreted. Actually, the Roman will get a reviving blood from Caesar’s body. They will get their handkerchiefs drenched in his blood and the same will be the future generations.
He also tries to entice Caesar by saying that the senators have decided to offer him the crown that day. If he does not go, they may change their decision.
 
 
Q. What is Antony’s speech more effective than that of Brutus?
 
A. The speech of Antony was far more effective than that of Brutus. In his speech, Brutus simply said that he and other conspirators assassinated. Caesar as his growing power was dangerous to the Roman democracy.
But Antony proved the statement very systematically and with adequate evidence. He succeeded in winning the favor of the people of Rome and infuriated them. After listening to his speech, the Roman citizens became so indignant and started taking revenge on the conspirators.
 
 
Q. How does Brutus convince the Roman mob that he was justified in murdering Caesar?
 
A. The shrewd cunning and manipulating Cassius had been successful in poisoning the ears of noble Brutus. After Caesar’s assassination, Brutus told the Romans that he loved Caesar more than any Romans. But he loved the democracy of Rome more than anyone and anything.
So he assassinated Caesar when he felt that the growing ambition of Caesar would be perilous to Roman democracy and he was not ready to accept it any rate as he was a great patriot.
 
 
Q. On what conditions was Antony allowed to speak on Caesar’s funeral?
 
A. After delivering his speech he wanted Antony to address the RomAnswer. But certain conditions were imposed on Antony. He was not allowed to blame any conspirators though he was allowed to praise Caesar.
He had to disclose the Romans in his funeral speech that he was speaking by the permission of the conspirators. Antony had to accept all the conditions as his position was weak at that moment.
 
 
Q. How did the Roman mob react to Antony’s speech?
 
A. Antony’s speech revolutionized the Roman mob. He had become successful in making the Romans realize that Caesar was not ambitious and the conspirators were guilt. So the mob became vindictive. They became ready to die with Antony. They also said that they would burn the dead body of Caesar at a holy place and using the brands they would burn the house of traitors.
 
 
Q. Which was the unkindest cut of all? Why was it called so?
 
A. The cut caused by the dagger of Brutus was most unkind. It was called so as Brutus was a very close friend of Caesar. Caesar trusted him blindly. He regarded Brutus as an angel. So Brutus was not supposed to think of harming Caesar. He was supposed to assist Caesar when the conspirators attacked him. As Brutus joined hands with conspirators and stabbed Caesar, it was an act of treachery. Hence, it was called the most unkind.
 
 
Q. Why did Calpumia try to stop Caesar from going to the Senate?
 
A. Calpumia had a very bad dream the previous night. She was also informed by the watchman that in his dream he had seen many unnatural things. A lioness had given birth to her little ones in the streets. Dead bodies were coming out of graveyards. A fierce war was going in air and blood was falling upon the capital.
Calpumia saw that blood was coming out of the statue of Caesar and lusty Romans were bathing their hands in it with smiling faces. All these were ominous and Calpumia thought that the life of Caesar was in danger.
 
 
Q. What did Caesar leave for the Romans in his will?
 
A. Antony brought the will of Caesar and read it to the people of Rome. According to the will, all the Romans had to get seventy-five silver coins from the property of Caesar. The private arbors of Caesar were to become the national property and every Roman would be enjoying there. There were the sufficient proofs to prove that Caesar was not ambitious.
 
 
Q. How did nature foretell Caesar’s death?
 
A. For nature, Caesar was a prominent person. So she gave a warning of danger in Caesar’s life. Calpumia saw in her dream that blood was coming out of Caesar’s statue and the lusty Romans with their smiling faces were washing their hands in it.
The watchman saw that lioness was giving birth to its little ones in the street. Dead bodies were coming out of the graveyards and warriors were fighting in the sky. These ominous signs were the nature’s foretelling of Caesar’s death.
 
 
Q. How and when did Caesar’s murder take place?
 
A. Julius Caesar was a great administrator. His name and fame were spreading by leaps and bounds. Cassius, one of the senators, was envious of the position of Caesar and he himself wanted to become the ruler. So he began to conspire against Caesar with the help of some cunning and wicked people.
Later on, he poisoned the ears of noble Brutus saying that the growing power of Caesar would be dangerous to the democracy of Rome. All the conspirators planned to assassinate Caesar in the senate-house. On the scheduled date, Decius Brutus persuaded Caesar to go the senate-house.
The conspirators requested Caesar one by one to repeal the banishment of Publius Cimber. But Caesar turned down their requests and the conspirators got an excuse to assassinate Caesar. Casca attacked Caesar first and he was followed by the other conspirators. Caesar could not believe his eyes when he saw Brutus attacking him. Ultimately, Caesar was assassinated in the senate-house at the feet of the statue if Pompey.
 
 
Q. Under what condition does Brutus allow Mark Antony to make the funeral speech?
 
A. After the assassination of Caesar, Brutus wanted to justify the actions of the conspirators. After delivering his speech he wanted Antony to address the Romans. But certain conditions were imposed on Antony. He was not allowed to blame any conspirator tough he was allowed to praise Caesar.
He had to disclose the Romans in the funeral speech that he was speaking by the permission of the conspirators. Antony had to accept all the conditions as his position was weak at that moment.
 
 
Q. Why did Metellus Cimber kneel before Caesar?
 
A. The brother of Metellus Cimber had been given the punishment of banishment by Caesar. So the conspirators asked Metellus Cimber to request Caesar to forgive his brother. They knew it well that Caesar would not forgive Publius Cimber.
Then the conspirators would also make a request and if it was turned down by Caesar they would get proper excuse to attack and assassinated Caesar.
 

Character Sketch

  • Julius Caesar – Caesar, the protagonist of the drama ‘Julius Caesar’, was indeed a towering personality. He possessed a series of virtues which had made him a great ruler of the contemporary world. Under his world regime, the Roman Empire expanded greatly and earned good name and fame in the entire world. In the battlefield, he was a warrior of warriors and under his leadership, Rome had won many battles. Rome had never seen a great patriot like him.
Caesar was an epitome of bravery and courage. When Calpurnia implored her not to go to the senate-house, he said ‘Cowards die many times before their death’. He was so confident of his courage and strength that he said that he was more dangerous than danger. Being a strict and able ruler, he never altered decision under pressure. as he was not a great diplomat, he failed to guess the motive of the conspirators. The Romans remained indebted to him and took revenge on the conspirators. History rarely sees such great personality.
 
 
  • Marcus Brutus – A high-ranking and well-respected Roman, husband to Portia, and one of Caesar’smurderers. An intelligent and self-possessed stoic, Brutus is respected by friend and enemy alike, and even by Caesar as Brutus kills him. Ironically, it is Brutus’s admirable qualities—patriotism, reason, self-control—that cause him to participate in Caesar’s murder, once these qualities are abused by Cassius. Brutus loves Caesar but is so opposed to Rome having a king that his reason demands Caesar’s death. Brutus’s strict moral code also brings about his own undoing, since he refuses to kill Antony, as the more Machiavellian Cassius suggests they should.
 
  • Caius Cassius – Instigator of the conspiracy against Caesar. Cassius had served beside Caesar in many wars and even once saved his life. Unlike Brutus, who loves Caesar but is opposed to the idea of a monarchy, Cassius seems more motivated by jealousy, even hatred, of Caesar than by any political ideology, as he first professes. Indeed, Cassius begins to exhibit many of the bad qualities for which he initially argued Caesar must die, like ambition, dishonesty, and greed.
 
  • Mark Antony – Caesar’s friend. He desires to make Caesar king and virtually single-handedly brings about the undoing of the conspirators after Caesar’s murder. Described as a passionate man who loves art and music, and teased even by Caesar for staying out late at parties, Antony is the opposite of the coldly logical Brutus. He was not sharp enough to suspect the plot against Caesar, but it is Antony’s masterful speech to the plebeians that stir them up against his killers. Antony can also be devious when necessary, planning to cheat the people by altering Caesar’s will and to eliminate his ally Lepidus. It is the combination of these qualities that make him a better all-around politician—and replacement for Caesar—than either Brutus or Cassius.
 
  • Portia – Wife of Brutus, daughter of the famous Roman statesman Cato. She is proud of her identity as a member of two famous Roman families, and takes her role as wife seriously, demanding that Brutus keep no secrets from her, or exclude her from any aspect of his life. Despite this pride, she still respects Roman gender roles enough to subordinate herself to her husband. Portia seems ashamed of being a woman, and identifies more with the idea of the fearless Roman man, stabbing herself in the thigh to prove she can keep secrets, and eventually killing herself in an unnecessarily painful way, by swallowing hot coals.
 
  • Octavius Caesar – Caesar’s nephew and adopted heir. He is young and inexperienced when he returns to Rome as an ally of Antony’s after Caesar’s death—he protests Antony’s plan to betray Lepidus and is initially outmaneuvered by Brutus at Philippi. After the events of Julius Caesar, however, Octavius eventually overcomes both Lepidus and Antony and rules alone and very successfully as Augustus Caesar.
 
  • Casca – One of the conspirators. Casca is a cynic—a personality type Shakespeare contrasts with the stoicism of Brutus and the Epicureanism of Cassius—and is therefore sarcastic and rude. He seems to want to kill Caesar not out of jealousy like Cassius, or out of concern for Rome like Brutus, but because he thinks Caesar is a phony. Casca is the first one to stab Caesar.

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