Julius Caesar Essay
The play _Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare_ includes many references of superstitions and omens. These references played an important role in the development of the plot and characters. Shakespeare used elements such as weather, old beliefs, and people's visions to portray messages to the audience. Through the use of superstitions and omens, Shakespeare foreshadowed Caesar's death, exposed the changes in various characters, and allowed the characters' true intensions to reveal themselves through the misinterpretations of omens.
The superstitions and premonitions added by Shakespeare were used to foreshadow the death of Caesar. By doing this, Shakespeare to made it obvious to the audience that Caesar was going to die and there was nothing anybody could do about it. On the night before the Ides of March, there was a large thunderstorm that took place. The storm foreshadowed the assassination of Julius Caesar and it's negative repercussions. Shakespeare's audience treated the kings as the gods' representative on Earth. So when Casca and Cicero met on a Roman street. Casca points out:
"Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
Incenses them to send destruction." (1.3.11-13)
Casca's words leave an undertone that even the heavens are upset with the plans to murder Caesar. Because Caesar's death would break one of the human laws, this disturbed a natural law, resulting in a thunderstorm. Casca continues to point out to Cicero things he saw that were clearly omens:
"Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glared at me and went surly by,
Without annoying me…
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noon-day upon the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking." (1.3.20-28)
Obviously these things don't just naturally happen, so they were put there by Shakespeare to foreshadow Caesar's assassination. Caesar's servant and wife didn't want him to leave on the day of his death. Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, had a bad dream that his statue was spewing blood and many Romans were bathing their hands in it. Similarly, Caesar's servant cautioned him from leaving his house:
"They would not have you stir forth today.
Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast." (2.2.38-40)
These two phenomena occurred on the same day, right after the night of the storm and Casca's strange visions, on the day of Caesar's death. Shakespeare strategically placed them to foreshadow an upcoming tragedy.
The use of superstitions and the supernatural shows the development and changes within the important characters throughout the play. Julius Caesar starts off the play being very superstitious and he allows these beliefs to dictate the way he makes choices. He makes this evident in his conversation with Antonius:
"Forget not in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia, for our elders say
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse." (1.2.8-11)
Here, two friends speak to each other about a race that takes place on the Feast of the Lupercal. Caesar tells Antonius to touch Calpurnia because he believes it will make her able to bear children, giving attention to omens and superstitions. Unfortunately, Caesar eventually disregards omens and superstitions entirely leading to the day he dies. He believes he is stronger than the supernatural, as he says to his wife, Calpurnia:
No, Caesar shall not. Danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he.
We are two lions littered in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible.
And Caesar shall go forth." (2.2.44-48)
In this quote by Caesar, he is expressing his disregard for the bad omens that everyone is experiencing, which pertain to him. As well, Caesar's words demonstrate his change in attitude. Earlier in the play, Caesar was less ambitious which caused him to pay more attention to what was occurring...
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