Calpurnia’s Desperation, Decius’ Cleverness
One of the most pivotal moments in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was when Decius, a conspirator against Caesar, convinced Caesar to leave his house by reinterpreting Calpurnia’s horrific dream. Originally, Caesar planned to stay home because of his wife’s plea. However, Decius arrived and successfully convinced Caesar to depart to the Senate. Shakespeare uses different appeals, details, strategies, and understandings of Caesar to make Decius’ argument more persuasive than Calpurnia’s in convincing Caesar whether or not to go to the Senate. After a flood of strange events from the preceding night and her nightmares of Caesar’s murder, Calpurnia insists that Caesar heed to the Soothsayer’s prophecy to beware the ides of March. Calpurnia emphasized the grimness of the omens by using alliteration, parallelism, logical appeals, and a terrified tone. She interprets the comets lighting up the night sky seen as a prophecy of his death, reasoning that the heavens proclaim the death of only great men. She envisioned lustful, smiling Romans washing their hands in Caesar's blood. Though it failed to work because her language and tone did not suit Caesar’s way of thinking. Caesar firmly believed that while cowards imagine their death frequently, brave men die only once. Therefore Caesar thought that listening to his wife and staying back was the act of a coward, which he never wanted to consider himself to be. Engulfed by his stubborn pride, Caesar maintains that he will not stay home out of fear. Despite failing to convince Caesar with logic, Calpurnia tries again using an emotional approach by desperately begging him on her knees and requesting him to send Antony to the Senate in his place. Caesar relents and agrees not to go to the Senate to ease Calpurnia’s worry, not because of her argument. However, Decius soon arrives and manages to trick Caesar into going to the Senate house. He laces his arguments with alliteration (to...
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