Essay, Research Paper: Julius Caesar

Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

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William Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616. During his time, he wrote and
established many plays. Although he lived about 400 years ago, his themes still
have proven their universality today. A good example of this is in the play,
Julius Caesar. One of the themes in this play is that there are many methods of
manipulation, that persuade and influence people into a certain direction,
sometimes too quickly, without thought. Shakespeare distorts the views of people
to show that commoners or plebeians in the play, tend to change their minds
without thought or consideration. An example of that occurs in the play within
the beginning on a street in Rome. The Romans are gathered to celebrate two
events, the religious festival of Lupercal and the recent victory of Julius
Caesar. “We make a holiday to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph,”
says a cobbler, whom like most commoners had once supported Pompey. The
commoners have since changed their views toward Caesar, now that he holds the
power. Another example occurs later in the play. Brutus has just convinced the
commoners that what the conspirators did was only out of their love for Rome.
One commoner says, “we are blest that Rome is rid of him,” referring to
Caesar which statement is supported by the rest of the crowd. Once again, the
hearts of the commoners quickly changes again once Antony gives his speech.
After he finishes, the commoners run through the streets noting and searching to
kill the once glorified conspirators. This still applies today. For example;
Bill Clinton was a fairly respected and admired president, until the world
discovered about his mistress. Because of this, voters and people in office have
changed their views so quickly, we have lost sight that, disregarding his
personal affairs, Clinton has actually been a good president. Shakespeare shows
that the commoners change their minds too quickly, he also shows that methods of
manipulation, such as ridicule, can change the views of people. Ridicule is used
to persuade Casca to join the conspiracy, Cassius says, “so vile a thing as
Caesar! But O grief, where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this before a
willing Bondman!” Considering that Casca doesn’t like the idea of being a
subject to Caesar, he immediately becomes offended and joins the conspiracy.
Another example is the first scene of the play. Marullus says to the commoners
whom no longer worship Pompey, “You blocks of stones, you worse than senseless
things!” to try and influence them to stay loyal to the great Pompey. Even
today, we use ridicule as a way of persuading of influencing people to do
something. An example of this would be in the “Think. Don’t Smoke”
commercial. They are implying that when you smoke, you don’t think. Another
method of manipulation used in the play is when Portia is trying to uncover
Brutus’ secret. She says to him, “I should not need, if you were gentle
Brutus,” and, “ Giving myself a voluntary wound here in the thigh; can I
bear that with patience, and not my husband’s secrets?” Brutus realizing his
actions, he agrees to tell her his secrets. Another example that is used in the
play during the beginning, when Marullus is again trying to persuade the
commoners to stay loyal to Pompey. He not only uses ridicule towards the
commoners to persuade the once supportive commoners towards Pompey, but he also
uses guilt. He says: Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft Have you climbed
up to walls and battlements, To tow’rs and windows, yea, to chimney tops, Your
infants in your arms, and there have sat The livelong day, with patient
expectation To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome. Because guilt is a
universal theme, it is still used to entice and influence others. For example,
on television, there are many commercials that display babies and younger
children that live in less than sanitary conditions. They ask for donations to
help these children. On one of these commercials, Monica, from Touched by an
Angel, says, “if you don’t care, turn off the television, don’t call, and
turn your back on helpless children that need you and can only be helped if you
call right now.” Universal themes are all around us, including in this play
Julius Caesar. The overall theme in this play is that people are influenced and
persuaded by what others say and sometimes people are persuaded too quickly.
Because of Shakespeare’s talent as a writer, his plays will continue to go on
and prove their universality, long after the time they were written.
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