Essay Assignment 1: Julius Caesar –language, character, theme
Virtue and Ambition in Julius Caesar
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a play which displays the contrasting themes of ambition and virtue. The background of this renowned play is set in republican Rome, where the importance of virtue is at its peak. Virtue embraces honour, nobility, love and responsibility for their nation. The Romans believe that truly virtuous men are consistent in their private and public political life. Ambition, on the other hand, has no place in Romans’ virtues. In the play, when Caesar begins to display signs of power-hungry, arrogance, increasing ambition and even the idea of tyranny, which clashes with the Roman republican virtues, the tension is built. While Shakespeare shares his definition of virtue through Brutus, as a role model of republican virtue, he creates the tension in the story as Brutus conflicts with ambitious characters like Caesar, Cassius and Mark Antony. Shakespeare begs to question whether virtue or ambition makes a successful leader. In the following essay, I shall discuss the contrasting themes of virtue and ambition in the play. At the play’s end, Antony concluded Brutus’s life honoring him as “the noblest Roman of them all”. Brutus stands firm on his set of virtuous principles. Throughout the play, he struggles to maintain Rome as an idealistic republic. He makes all his decisions only based on what is best for his nation, striving to put aside all personal emotions and desires. Yet, every time he takes the virtuous path which he believes in, he ironically hurts the very idea he seeks to protect. We are put in doubts, of why such constant principles and true virtue can go wrong. Making use of Brutus’s nature, Cassius easily convinces him Caesar’s ambitious nature as a great threat to the republic and must be assassinated. Cassius manipulates his “honorable mettle may be wrought From that it is disposed”, tactfully...
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