English 2 Honors
4 January 2013
Traditional vs. Modern Drama
In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun themes, symbols, and characters can be compared. Both A Raisin in the Sun and Julius Caesar were written for the stage; therefore their characters become more obvious and more thoroughly portrayed than in a book, for example. Even though, these works were written by far different authors and in different centuries their similarities and differences are evident. In both A Raisin in the Sun and Julius Caesar themes, symbols, and character development are consistent. Comparing character development in Julius Caesar and A Raisin in the Sun is beneficial in learning more about each and every character. One of the major characters in A Raisin in the Sun is Mama; a character she can be compared to in Julius Caesar is Calpurnia. Despite Mama has a bigger role in Hansberry’s work and Calpurnia’s role in Shakespeare’s work is not as powerful as Mama, similarities are still evident. One way they are similar is in their authority over one person or a few people in general, their families to be more specific. In A Raisin in the Sun, Mama has a strong opinion regarding her beliefs. She stands up for them and stresses respect. Mama is also the head of the Younger household. She reminds everyone who is living with her the difference between right and wrong. However, Mama seems to be a bit more concerned with what Walter is always doing. Walter is her eldest son. In the same way, Calpurnia stresses what she believes in. Similar to how Mama watches out for her son Walter, Calpurnia tries to warn her husband, Julius Caesar, against evil and something awful that has a potential of happening. Mama shows her authority over Walter when she gives him the responsibility of putting away a share of the money, “Listen to me, son. I say I been wrong, son. That I been doing to you what the rest of the world been doing to you. (She turns of the radio) Walter—(She stops and he looks up slowly at her and she meets his eyes pleadingly) What you ain’t never understood is that I ain’t got nothing, don’t own nothing ain’t never really wanted nothing that wasn’t for you. There ain’t nothing as precious to me…There ain’t nothing worth holding on to, money, dreams, nothing else—if it means—if it means it’s going to destroy my boy. (She takes an envelope out of her handbag and puts it in front of him and he watches her without speaking or moving) I paid the man thirty-five hundred down on the house. That leaves sixty-five hundred dollars. Monday morning I want you to take this money and take three thousand and put it in a savings account for Beneatha’s medical schooling. The rest you put in a checking account—with your name on it. And from now on any penny that come out of it or go in it is for you to look after. For you to decide. (She drops her hands a little helplessly) It ain’t much, but it’s all I got in the world and I’m putting it in your hands. I’m telling you to be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be” (Hansberry 106-107). In a similar way Calpurnia takes authority over Julius Caesar, “Alas my lord, your wisdom is consumed in confidence. Do not go forth to-day; call it my fear that keeps you in the house, and not your own. We’ll send Mark Antony to the senate-house; and he shall say you are not well to-day; let me, upon my knee, prevail in this” (Shakespeare 2.2). Both Calpurnia and Mama take authority over someone. Due to the fact that both tasks were not taken seriously both Walter and Caesar run into turmoil later in the literary work. In Walter’s case, he doesn’t do as Mama says and loses his and Beneatha’s money as well as people’s trust in him (Hansberry 127-128). In Caesar’s case, him not staying home and returning to the senate against his wife’s will, Caesar is greeted with his death (Shakespeare 3.1). In both works of literature, symbolism is...
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