The Role of Women in the Tragedy of Julius Caesar

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Women play a minor role in the overall plot of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare but without them, two of the main characters: Brutus and Caesar would be incomplete and certain language could not be used. Shakespeare uses the two women: Portia and Calphurnia to show the audience the other side(s) of Brutus and Caesars characters and as R. Moore says in his article Women in Julius Caesar "They also provide elements of love and loyalty in a play that is largely concerned with death and intrigue."(1) Portia is Brutus's wife and a very strong character, she shows us firstly that not all women follow the stereotype and are "womanly" as most men seem to assume. We know men of that time assumed this because it is considered a great insult to be called "womanly" and the insult is supposed to be directed at your strength of character. This is shown through out the play and Cassius uses it more than necessary an example of this is when he states, "Our father's minds are dead/ And we are governed by our mother's spirits." (I. ii. 82-83. Shakespeare). Portia, as the wife of Brutus and the daughter of Cato, is different and she sees herself as such. She is a stoic and a very strong woman both physically and mentally and she proves this many times in the play. The first time is when she stabs herself to show Brutus that she is capable of bearing his secret. She does this as she equates strength of body with strength of mind which would mean since she could stab herself she could bear Brutus's secret. Although Portia is in that way more "manly" she still retains the qualities woman possess, "I have a man's mind but a woman's might." (II. iv. 8. Shakespeare) illustrates that point exactly. By using her "womanly qualities" she implores Brutus to tell her his secret after failing to do so with her more "manly virtues". It is not clear in the play whether or not Brutus tells her but by showing us these scenes with Portia we have more of an idea of what type of...
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