Book: Julius Caesar
Author: William Shakespeare
Summary: Julius Caesar has returned from successful campaigns in Gaul(France)and Hispania(Spain)and has also deposed his most powerful ruler Gnaius Pompey. He has also secured Egypt thereby ensuring a constant grain supply for Rome and is now the most powerful man in the city. Jealous of his success, a group of powerful conspirators led by Cassius, Casca and Metellius Cimber plan to assassinate Caesar before he secures his power fully. To do this they win over Marcus Brutus, Caesar's close friend and ally by convincing him that it is in the best interests of the Roman Republic that it remains a Republic; with the power in the hands of the citizens and thus the senators; rather than an Empire with all the power in Caesars hands. Being an idealist who idolizes the Republic, Brutus is swayed and accedes to aid them in their plot and agrees to assassinate Caesar in the Senate building, where traditionally the entrants are required to doff all armour and remove weaponry. Meanwhile, Caesar is unaware of the grim fate awaiting him and confident in his power and popularity among the people, he pays little heed to the bad omens perceived by his wife Calpurnia and to the warnings of a Soothsayer who bids him to 'Beware the Ides of March'. As Caesar enters the Senate, the conspirators fall upon and assassinate him by means of daggers concealed in their garments, Caesar dies after mortal blows to his body and upon perceiving the treachery of Brutus whom he considered among his closest friends. Next, Marcus Brutus speaks to the clamouring citizens who demand to know of the cause of death of their beloved hero. Brutus tries and explains to them how killing Caesar was necessary for the Republic and how his ambition threatened its continuity. Brutus's speech is followed by Marc Antony, another one of Caesar's closest friends who questions the motives of the conspirators in public and moves them to grief over the assassination. He subtly sways the crowd and by the end has the crowd mobilized against the conspirators. The next acts describe the hunting down of the conspirators one by one by Antony and Octavian: Caesar's nephew and successor culminating in the Battle of Phillipi before which the ghost of Caesar appears and taunts Brutus. The play ends after Antony pays tribute to the deceased Brutus, lauding him as the noblest Roman of all because he alone had acted out of patriotism for the Republic rather than personal motives.
Book Reviewed by Sayan Mukherjee
Get this e-book now at a very low price.
Social/Historical context: The play is set in 44 BC starting at the time of the great Feast of Lupercal. A festivity in Rome honoring the god Pan. It concludes after the Battle of Phillipi. The source of the play is the histories written by Plutarch. Shakespeare has dramatized many elements and added lines such as the now famous: "Et tu Brute? Then fall Caesar!". The play was written around 1599, a time when the aging ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth had not yet named a successor and the nation was teetering on the verge of civil war. The drama and emotions voiced here reflect much of the tensions of the common people of those times and hence struck an instant chord with the audiences.
Writing Style: The language is very typical of Shakespeare and each line has been written for a specific effect. The plot advancements are broad; as is to be expected from someone writing for the uneducated masses of the time; however each character has been scripted with a sufficient complexity to enable a realistic portrayal of characters and not mere caricatures.
My Thoughts: Being an avid fan of Julius Caesar and the Roman empire in general, I did not find the play particularly enlightening in my youth. However, upon subsequent readings in later years I grew to appreciate the masterful adaptation of hard facts and cold historical events in a way so as to move an uneducated audience without cheapening or detracting from the original in any way. The Bard at his best.
Got an opinion on this book?
Did you read this book too? Got an opinion on it? Share it!
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
yes it was Not rated yet
it dealt with the reality of life and relationships between human when it comes to the matter of power and authority...
yess Not rated yet
it was a book worth reading,and the review is awesome
yes Not rated yet
This was one of the best by shakespeare.I simply love the writing in old english.
Click here to write your own.
Write a Book Review and get a web page dedicated to yourself! Click Here
To read other Classic book reviews, Click here