The Dramatic Significance of the Supernatural in Julius Caesar

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The Dramatic Significance (or Purpose) of the Supernatural in Julius Caesar

“Beware the Ides of March” (I. iv. 52). This familiar line by the Soothsayer in Julius Caesar reflects the presence of omens and ghosts in the play. What exactly is the significance of these supernatural references? The supernatural establishes mood, develops character, and foreshadows the plot.

First, the supernatural creates mood in the play. The most important mood is impending doom which gradually increases until the scene of Caesar’s assassination. This mood is first introduced with the scene of a terrible storm on the night before Caesar’s murder. Many supernatural things happen during this storm, including men on fire and lions walking on the streets of Rome. Tension is further created as Casca describes his unearthly visions. The feeling of doom continues as Calphurnia’s dream is revealed when Caesar says, “She dreamt tonight she saw my statue, / Which, like a fountain with a hundred spouts / Did run pure blood, and many lusty Romans / Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it” (II.ii.1.76-79). The audience feels that something is about to happen and that the dream is an omen that foreshadows Caesar’s demise. Tension builds once again as Caesar is warned repeatedly by the soothsayers to beware the ides of March. The supernatural events which occur in the play clearly help to create the mood which keeps the audience’s interest throughout the rest of the play.

A second purpose of the supernatural is to reveal characters. Julius Caesar is a self-confident, conceited man when he ignores the warning of the Soothsayer in his statement, “He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass!” (I.ii.1.22-24). His words show that either Caesar does not believe in omens, or he is trying not to appear superstitious in front of the crowd to keep up his public image. Caesar is not the only character in the play who can be assessed by the way he reacts to...
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