The Role of the Supernatural
In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Shakespeare uses the supernatural to show its importance to the Roman culture and the effect it has to the tragedy. The supernatural brings suspense and mystery to the unfolding events and influences the choices of the characters. The unnatural occurrences enhances the plot and foreshadow future events. It also shows the consequences of ignoring the supernatural, as seen with Caesar’s assassination. Omens help keep order in society and act as warnings to the characters of the consequences of their actions. The supernatural plays a dominant role in Julius Caesar as it serves as an important reminder to the audience of its power, and the chaos and misfortune that will result from underestimating it. The supernatural’s ability to foreshadow the future shows the audience how essential it is to the characters and the plot. This creates a mood of suspense and excitement, as seen when the soothsayer gives a warning to Caesar. While Caesar is celebrating his return to Rome, a soothsayer interrupts with a foreboding warning to, “[b]eware the Ides of March” (I.ii.18). The soothsayer’s message foreshadows Caesar’s assassination and the chaos that will follow. However, Caesar’s ignorance of this warning reveals his tragic flaw of excessive arrogance, which causes his downfall. The audience sees how the soothsayer’s warning comes true with Caesar’s assassination, and experiences the significance of the supernatural again when it appears to Brutus as the ghost of Caesar. Another illustration of the importance not to underestimate the supernatural takes place in the ominous warning to Brutus. As Cassius and Brutus prepare to confront Antony and Octavius on the plains of Philippi, the ghost of Caesar appears to Brutus bearing an important message. The mere appearance of a ghost is already a bad omen, as it shows that its spirit is seeking revenge to those who caused its death. At first, the ghost tells...
Cited: Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.
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