Literary Analysis Of The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar
This passage in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar stood out to me as profoundly meaningful, as it symbolizes the arrogance and complacency of Caesar and how those flaws lead to his downfall as a leader. This extreme arrogance inhibits Caesar to realize the impact of his actions and the plot forming against him. The only thing that seemingly slowed down this arrogance and indomitable attitude was a feminine presence.
The first thing that stood out to me in this passage was the powerful, alpha male tone. The implication of being more dangerous than danger itself, the comparison to lions, and the ignorance of fear are all pieces of this passage that portray Caesar as a most compelling and influential figure. Dominant statements like “No, Caesar shall not,” and “And Caesar shall go forth,” also convey his assertive, self-absorbed nature because they show how he decides what he wants to do, no matter what warnings or opinions may exist. Although phrases like, “Caesar should be a beast without a heart / If he should stay at home today for fear,” are inspiring, motivational and gutsy, they are also naive. Such phrases are ignorant to the possible consequences of not being insuperable. In addition, the repetitive use of referring to himself in the third person is interesting. This is a sign of Caesar’s public image and his private persona becoming one. This has a negative impact on his mindset as even when he is home in this scene, he feels pressure to be the fearless leader, acting as he would amongst senators and esteemed personnel. This is impactful because the arrogance and confidence that he exudes in public is now a part of his life at all hours, making him blind to his impact on others and others’ actions. An example of this is on his way to the Senate, when the citizen Artemidorus gives him a letter warning about the conspirators and Caesar refuses to read it. Caesar responds arrogantly to Artemidorus, like he is invincible, “What touches us ourself shall be last served.” (III. I. 8) If not arrogant, at the end of Caesar’s life, he turned comfortable – in his standing with the people and with the Senators. This comfort caused Caesar to step out into a dangerous situation with no situational awareness, and he paid the price for it.
The context of the passage I chose comes during a bedside conversation between Caesar and his wife, Calpurnia. Immediately after this passage, Calpurnia actually convinces the brash and bold Caesar not to go to the Senate today. Caesar decided to go out only after Decius twisted Calpurnia’s dream into a positive message and mocked Caesar’s feminine decision to stay in. As I read this passage, I noticed that this female presence calmed Caesar and gave him more perspective on the situation. Instead of being fully driven by power and ego, he cared about the safety of his wife and himself for a few moments. This exchange shows the power of a feminine understanding of the situation, and displays how a woman like Calpurnia has the ability to slow the reckless, ego-driven motor of men like Caesar. Calpurnia and Portia, Brutus’ wife, both show concern over their husbands’ political endeavors and both give advice that would have kept them safe and out of harm’s way. But because of the widespread belief that women were untrained in reason with no perspective on politics, their opinions were ignored and dismissed. Perhaps if Julius Caesar and Brutus had valued the opinion of women and welcomed a feminine presence to counter their strong masculinity, they would have ended up in better positions than buried in the ground, with Rome crumbling above them.