Fall 2015 Shakespeare I: Team 1

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November 19, 2015
by kristin Lynch
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Mirrors and Foils for Hamlet

Characters in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet interestingly both, act as a mirror and a foil to the character prince Hamlet from Act’s 1 to 4. Minor characters Fortinbras, Laertes and Player queen express personality traits, physical actions and inner feelings both similar and extremely different from Hamlets.

Fortinbras is the first characters we (without even trying) can compare to Hamlet. Right away, in Act one, we discover Both young men share a passion for avenging their father’s death. After hearing from Ghost Hamlet, prince Hamlet makes it his mission to successfully carry out a plan for avenging the death of Hamlet1. Coincidently, this too is Fortinbrases plan (since learning of Hamlet 1 death). Fortinbras acting as a foil to Hamlet, Decides to handle his plan in a much more active, direct way; he attempts to fight for what his father lost. In Act one Claudius tells us, “Young Fortinbras…/ thinking by our late dear brother’s death/Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, /Colleaguèd with the dream of his advantage,/ Importing the surrender of those lands/ Lost by his father” (Scene2). Though Fortinbras does not go through with the attack on Denmark, the attempt serves as a foreshadowing for later acts by Fortinbras that even Hamlet closely evaluates concluding Fortinbras as something like him, but better.  Hamlet reveals his feeling in a soliloquy, “this army of such mass and charge/Led by a delicate and tender prince,/Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed/… How stand I then,/That have a father killed, a mother stained,/Excitements of my reason and my blood/ And let all sleep—  (Act4 Scene4).  Comparatively, Fortinbras is not the only son in the play who acts as a foil to Hamlet.

Laertes has similar issues with the situation surrounding his father’s death. Both Hamlet and Laertes share feelings of anger when it comes to how properly their father’s bodies were mourned. However, these characters are set apart untimely labeling Laertes as a foil for Hamlet as each of them handled their feelings of anger very differently. Hamlet talks aggressively to himself about the unfitting time period in which his father was mourned and Laertes addresses King Claudius directly and says, “No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,/No noble rite nor formal ostentation— That I must call ’t in question” (Act4 Scene5). Hamlet and Laertes also share the feeling of animosity when it comes to the sexuality of the women related to them. Hamlet has hostile feelings about his mother Gertrude’s sexuality as far as relations between her and his uncle (current King Claudius). As Laertes similarly feels uncomfortable with his sister Ophelia being sexually charged (he doesn’t know she is active) by Hamlet. Both characters feel similarly about this situation although again handle it very differently. Laertes tries to talk sense in to his sister by calmly talking to her. In Act 1 Scene 3 he says “Then if he says he loves you/ It fits your wisdom so far to believe it…. Fear it, my dear sister/ And keep you in the rear of your affection,/Out of the shot and danger of desire”. While as we know Hamlet causes a huge scene (Act3 scene4) yells at his mother, scares her and kills Polonius.

As it is clear there are some foils for Hamlet floating around, there also is some mirrors of Hamlets character throughout the play. I couldn’t help but notice the close similarity between player queens feelings about remarrying, Act3 Scene2, (in the mouse trap play) and Hamlets feelings about Gertrude getting hitched to Uncle Claudius. Player queen is pretty clear about how wrong it would be to remarry after player King dies as she says, “Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light…../ Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife / If, once a widow, ever I be wife!”. The actor playing an actor seems to share the exact feelings regarding this situation as Hamlet does.  In Act1 Scene2 Hamlet says,” Within a month/,Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears/Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes,/She married.”  These Characters help bring out traits of main character Prince Hamlet on several occasions throughout the play. By acting as both, direct foils and mirrors of Hamlets inner feelings, personality traits and physical actions, we are able to expand our observation of the plot and deepen our knowledge of character development for this piece.

 

 

November 18, 2015
by Alyssa Merritt
3 Comments

Revenge

Like the other tragedies we have read so far, there is a strong focus on revenge in Hamlet. In Othello, the only person seeking revenge was Iago based on the fact that Othello didn’t make him lieutenant. In Richard III, although they aren’t main characters, Queen Margaret and Lady Anne want revenge on Richard for the death of their husbands. In Julius Caesar, Marc Antony tries to take revenge on those who murdered Caesar. However, in Hamlet there are three main characters who are seeking revenge. First off, Hamlet, Fortinbras, and Laertes all want revenge for the deaths of their fathers. The revenge plot that should be focused on the most is that of Hamlet.
In act 1, the ghost of Hamlet’s father appears and talks Hamlet into taking revenge on Claudius for his death. After the ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius murdered him by poisoning him, Hamlet is eager seek revenge. However, he ends up having a difficult time carrying out the plan. Hamlet is stuck between wanting to take vengeance for his father and an inner struggle to do what is right. In act 2, Hamlet is not sure if this ghost is telling the truth because he could be the devil in disguise, so he devises a plan to make sure Claudius is guilty. Referring to his plan Hamlet states, “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” (II.ii.627-634). Hamlet plans to watch King Claudius’ reaction to the play, Murder of Gonzago. If he acts uncomfortable during the murder scene then Hamlet knows the ghost is telling the truth. Also in act 2, after watching an actor deliver a speech so convincingly, Hamlet questions why he can’t show more emotion for his father. The actor is able to portray an image so well, without even really knowing the character, yet Hamlet is unable to avenge his father’s death without second guessing himself.
In act 3 Hamlet has the chance to kill Claudius while he is alone in his chamber, but decides not to because he thinks he is praying. In his soliloquy, Hamlet expresses his reasons not to kill him right then, stating that he’d actually be doing him a favor. Instead of sending him to purgatory with his father, he’d be sent to heaven because he is praying. By deciding to postpone killing Claudius, Hamlet causes a lot of trouble for himself and others around him. The first person this affects is Polonius. While talking with his mother Hamlet mistakenly kills Polonius who is hiding behind a curtain. Yet he seems to show no remorse for killing an innocent person, he just drags him away and hides his body. Polonius’ daughter Ophelia is also affected because she becomes so distraught over her father’s death she ends up falling into a brook and drowning. “Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, / Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay / To muddy death.” (IV.v.178-181), this quote depicts Ophelia laying in the water with her dress becoming fully drenched, thus, pulling her into the water, to her death, all while she continued to sing. By describing her death this way it makes it seems as though she wasn’t even aware of what was happening. Ophelia had been so consumed with her song, she didn’t notice or care she was drowning.
With the ending of act 4 it seems as though both Hamlet and Laertes are going to get the revenge they were looking for. Although I have not yet read act 5 I feel certain Hamlet will kill Claudius and Laertes will kill Hamlet.

November 18, 2015
by Danielle Lown
12 Comments

Poor Ophelia

The end of Act 4 leaves readers with a heavy heart as we have seen the last of Ophelia. Ophelia is described as suffering a “muddy death” by Queen Gertrude, “But long it could not be/Till that he garments, heavy with their drink,/Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay/To muddy death.” (4.7.151-154). The fact that Ophelia’s clothing is what pulled her down and essentially drowned her into a muddy death is something that I found heavily ironic. In Twelfth Night we focused on the fact that Viola/Cesario could not marry Duke Orsino until she had her womanly clothes, as this was what gave her identity. Which if clothes equals identity, then Ophelia’s identity is what pulled her to her death, and that is something that does not sit well with me. A person lives in life trying their best to create an identity for themselves; an identity is what makes a person differ from the next. Ophelia deserved to have her own identity, but this identity, if clothes in fact mean identity in this play too, is what turned out to be Ophelia’s biggest downfall. I believe that we can connect clothes to identity in this play too, as Queen Gertrude could tell that it was Ophelia drowning due to the garments that she was wearing.

Further investigating the death of Ophelia based on our discussion from class, I was heavily intrigued by the emphasis of the flowers. Someone noted that the flowers present within the death of Ophelia were flowers that could be representing fertility, which is ironic in the fact with the death of fertility is also the “death” or end of hope for any chance of Ophelia reproducing, or being fertile. Ophelia in a sense marked her death as a monument, as she also hung flowers, which is something that people generally do on a loved one’s gravesite. It was almost as if Ophelia knew she was going to die. Another reason I truly believe Ophelia knew she was going to die because as she was out there she was singing away, which was described as “mindless singing” which people usually sing when they are joyful and can be considered a peaceful act. This was considered to be Ophelia excepting her fate, or giving herself away. The sense that Ophelia could be considered to be “giving herself away” is also saddening and leaves me with a heavy heart as when I think of someone “giving away” I think of a father bringing his daughter down the aisle and giving her away to the groom to be wed; which wasn’t going to happen to Ophelia as she was mourning the death of her father.

Lastly something that really caught my attention when rereading the lines of Ophelia’s death was a few specific lines, “Her clothes spread wide,/ And mermaid-like a while they bore her up;/which she chanted snatches of old tunes,/ as one incapable of her own distress” (4.7.146-149). The first part of that that caught my eye was the inclusion of referring to her clothes as spread wide, because that is quite a sexual reference and it was often noted or questioned as to whether the fact Ophelia still had her virginity or not. Secondly, the reference to a mermaid was intriguing because mermaids are often characterized as beautiful and something women often wish that they can be, so that fact that Ophelia is described as mermaid like moments before her death also doesn’t sit well with me because that isn’t something that should be considered beautiful. Lastly, the fact that she was incapable of her own distress, leads me to believe that she wasn’t sure of what she was doing, which is contrary to what I originally thought that she knew that she was going to die. Therefore, after reviewing the scene of Ophelia’s death numerous times, I am officially left confused as to whether or not Ophelia was in fact committing suicide, or her death was a horrible accident. One thing I know for sure is, after spending the semester heavily analyzing the women Shakespeare brought to us, I am officially out of hope for finding a happy ending, or a strong powerful woman, this semester.

November 18, 2015
by Sam Jacklitsch
2 Comments

Hamlet’s Views on Women

In the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare portrays the story of Hamlet, the son of King Hamlet who had his legal rights to be King due to his deceased father, stripped away from him because of the incestuous marriage between his mother and uncle. Throughout the play it is apparent that Hamlet may in fact be mad or he could be playing the role of a mad person. The main cause of these mad ideas, including seeing his father’s ghost, and mad actions all stem from the initial act of the marriage between Gertrude and Claudius.

Hamlet was shattered and disgusted by his mother’s choice to marry his uncle so quickly that he states her tears from his father’s funeral were not even dried up yet before jumping into bed with his uncle, “Within a month, Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her gallèd eyes, She married. O most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (1.2.155). It is clear that Hamlet becomes distrustful of woman in general due to this deception from his mother that he curses all woman in general which includes Ophelia, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (1.2.147). When Hamlet suggests that Ophelia go to a nunnery Shakespeare could be doing a play on words which could mean giving their souls to God, or a brothel. A nunnery in the first thought, is thought to have no influence of men and temptation, no children to bear or sexual encounters to be a “breeder of sinners” (3.1.124), he is suggesting that he does not want her to experience sexual corruption which he has seen firsthand regarding his mother and uncle. Besides Hamlet acting in this manner, Polonius also degrades his daughter Ophelia by using her as somewhat of a pawn or bait in wanting to find out if Hamlet is truly mad. Throughout the play, Ophelia is very much a pawn to Hamlet, her father, and her brother, Laertes which ultimately is half the reason for her suicide she committed later on in the play. Hamlet toyed with her heart not only to try and act mad but I also think deep down he was so scared and emotionally distraught from his mothers actions.

Hamlet has a strong dislike and utter distrust of woman because of his personal devastation he faced with his Gertrude’s quick decision and incestuous encounter. He feels betrayed by his own mother, the sole person who he believes should never cause him pain. He feel’s more hurt and anguish from this encounter rather than his father’s death it seems. Hamlet has a “bad taste in his mouth” in regards to all women which has greatly affected his encounters and actions thus far in the play and definitely can be viewed as his reason for becoming “mad.”

November 18, 2015
by Brianna Aldrich
2 Comments

Oh, Obedient Ophelia

With his name in the title itself, Hamlet sure does primarily focus on Hamlet. With revenge solely on his mind, Hamlet becomes a source that affects everything around him and anything that can get in his way. Loved ones, not so loved ones, even people he has no relationship to. Despite all the focus being on Hamlet, the one character that I find most interesting in the play is Ophelia. Ophelia is a short lived character in the play, but we are exposed to so much of her in such a short time. Ophelia seems to be known for obeying others. Whether she is loving on Hamlet, or listening to her father’s command, Olivia is a people pleaser, that is until the one she cares about most dies. While this may be a beautiful trait to hold, it is also very dangerous as we see in Ophelia’s case.

 

From the beginning of the play, we see that Olivia is the example of the perfect daughter any father could wish for. This is first seen when Olivia pleasantly obeys her father’s command of staying away from her love, Hamlet. Unlike any other rebellious teen, Olivia simply replies, “I shall obey my Lord”(Act 1, Scene 3, line 145) to her father’s command of straying from Hamlet. It is evident from this line that Ophelia shows the upmost respect for her father, agreeing that he knows best, despite her heart’s desires. Ophelia is generally a pleasant character in general, even when she seems to lose her mind.  Compared to the other women in the play, for example Gertrude, we see her innocence shine through and she is a light in the darkness. When Hamlet mocks her and makes a fool of her, she does not even disrespect him back, she often answers with “yes, my Lord” respecting him despite how little he is respecting her with his sexual taunts and comments. Ophelia’s part in the play seems to be minor in comparison to others, however her mark that she leaves is haunting.


Having such strong ties and respect for her father, it is only logical that Ophelia would go as insane as she did at his sudden murder. Polonius gave Ophelia structure in her life by giving her rules and guidelines, so for him to be suddenly gone left her life chaotic and out of order. Ironically enough, we can’t help but love Ophelia for how gracefully she makes going mad look. Despite her insanity, Ophelia is still pleasant to those around her, unlike Hamlet. During this time, Ophelia sings everywhere she goes, although it is about the devastation around her, and she even dies dressed as a goddess (which ironically is what causes her death). Ophelia of all things is hanging flowers as she falls into the brook. The flowers of Ophelia can be interpreted in many ways as we discussed in class. One perspective we talked about and that I like to use is that the cut flowers Ophelia has represent her lost potential, with the flowers uprooted from the ground, there is no possible way to grow. Hope is lost, and all that is left for the flowers, and Ophelia, is death.  Although Ophelia leaves the play in a saddening way, Ophelia throughout Hamlet is portrayed to be a character full of love who dies unchanged, despite the terrible circumstances around her. From Ophelia, we can take that while it is a magnificent thing to be obedient to others, it is more important to respect yourself and make decisions of your own as well; something that Ophelia unfortunately was not able to learn in time.

November 4, 2015
by Sam Jacklitsch
2 Comments

Antony’s Effective Speech!

In the play Julius Caesar, Anthony presents a noble and honest speech with the addition of three props that are designed to win the crowd over and make them realize for themselves that Caesar’s murder was anything BUT honorable. Antony’s speech was not only effective and cleverly worded, but by adding the evidence of the significant props won the crowd over to make them realize that the conspirators not only lied to the people of Rome, but also killed their King. Antony’s techniques of repetition, emotion, and powerful language posed very effectively by the way he addressed his speech.

The first piece of evidence that Antony “teases” the crowd with, is nothing other than the physical will of Julius Caesar. The delivery he suggests by first broadcasting this piece of evidence makes the crowd extremely curious and then when he quickly puts it back in his robe and not read it to them, the crowd only wants it more and causes them more interest “The will, the will! We will hear Caesar’s will” (3.2.39). In a contemptuous way, Antony constantly repeats the fact that Brutus and Cassius are honorable and good men “But Brutus says he was ambitious, And Brutus is an honorable man” (3.2.85). Antony is almost conducting a little reverse psychology with the people because they need to realize for themselves that this murder was not honorable as they are being told. The will is such an important prop in this scene because it allows for the people of Rome to see they Caesar was giving his money to everybody and it also proved how much Caesar loved and cared for the people. “Have patience, gentle friends. I must not read it. It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you” (3.2.140).

The bloody cloak is also essential to use as a prop for allowing the people to physically see that not only one stab wound was present, but three! The cloak was the one that Julius Caesar wore on the day he overcame the Nervii warriors. As Antony is showing the people the three bloody stabs, the crowd is becoming more and more furious. As he is showing them the stab wounds and discussing who did each one the final wound is the one that essentially kills Caesar and it is done by his beloved friend, Brutus which really overwhelms the people. “For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him! This was the most unkindest cut of all” (3.2.175). The cloak is significant because it shows not only was Caesar stabbed once, but three times, suggesting how brutal is really was.

The last piece of evidence Antony reveals is Caesar’s actual dead body which is the most powerful prop of all. The people of Rome cherished Caesar as their leader and physically seeing their beloved King dead in front of them suggests that, they have no form of power in that most. Nobody is leading them or keeping them safe, which the crowd craves.

Antony suggests the conspirators are “honorable” men and that they must have had good reasons for doing what they did, but what Antony is really suggesting is that they had no reason at all and this murder was malicious. The ironic words and repetition Antony uses makes the people of Rome turn on the conspirators and seek revenge of them! The crowd, with the huge help of Antony is a genius way, realized for themselves that Caesar’s murder was anything but honorable and that they loved and respected Caesar even more which caused them rage.

Shakespeare rarely used props in his play so when readers see physical props being used such as Desdemona and Othello’s bed, and the handkerchief used as Iago’s evil tool, and Caesar’s props, it suggests that they are very significant and mean something and it could also suggest that “seeing is believing”

November 4, 2015
by Danielle Lown
3 Comments

The Significance of Calpurnia and Portia

As I have focused thoroughly on the treatment and portrayal of women within Shakespeare’s plays thus far I was heavily intrigued by the characters of Portia and Calpurnia. However, the death and suicide of Porta by swallowing coals is something that was disturbing and made me curious as to why Shakespeare would include something like this within his play. That being said, I decided to further my research on the two characters as a whole.

One interesting thing I found was within a literary critique by Mary Hamer, “The news of Portia’s suicide comes to us at the close of a quarrel between her husband and his friend and on the eve of the battle between men that will take up the whole last act of the play. Portia’s death cannot be separated from the struggles for power that take place between men: it is a disturbing fact that Brutus and Cassius, who had been quarrelling between themselves, make their truce over Portia’s dead body, or its representation” (4). Portia’s death is essential to the plot sequence because this is a play lacking the presence of females to begin with. We also know that one of the female characters are barren and the other does not have any children; therefore the play is also lacking reproduction. This is something that I was surprised to hear upon beginning to read the play and was curious to see how the lack of reproduction would have an effect on the play as a whole. Unfortunately, this meant that the women would yet again be somewhat irrelevant, proving that they were not even necessary or important to the plotline by the gruesome death of Portia. One thing that I was left wondering is whether or not Brutus cared about the death of Portia since her death was recorded within the play twice:

BRUTUS: No man bears sorrow better. Portia is dead.

CASSIUS: Ha, Portia?

BRUTUS: She is dead. (4.3.151-143)

 

Also, Shakespeare including Calpurnia’s dream was something that intrigued me, because at first Caesar seemed to believe her and was not going to go out because of the dream and Calpurnia worrying for him. This is something that excited me because thus far we have not met a husband who was willing to do something for their wife; however yet again Shakespeare disappointed the female readers by Caesar changing his mind. Hamer too critiques this move, “Caesar doesn’t ask Calpurnia what she thinks her dream means, although it is such a specific warning, unlike the generalized threat they both perceived in the thunder and lightning. Caesar never treats Calpurnia’s dream as a form of perception or as an opinion that she is offering about the world, maybe because the dream is produced not out of a book but out of her own woman’s body, like her voice” (4). It is almost as if Calpurnia knew something was going to happen and foreshadows the fate of Caesar later on in the play, but as usual, because this is coming from the voice of the women it is not taken seriously by Caesar.

As our time left in the semester is dwindling down, so is my hope of finding a female character who is taken seriously and has a strong, positive effect on the play. Portia and Calpurnia seem to be some of the weaker female characters represented by Shakespeare thus far in the fact that their characters didn’t even seem to have a crucial role to the play as a whole; meaning the outcome still would have been the same with or without them. Although, Calpurnia tried her best to warn Caesar, death seemed to be his fate. Although I still do not understand the complete significance or meaning of Portia’s death by swallowing coals, Hamer’s critique certainly gave me some insight on things that I had not considered.

 

Hamer, Mary. “Portia and Calpurnia.” William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar. Plymouth, U.K.: Northcote House Publishers Ltd., 1998. 30-41. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. Vol. 74. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

November 4, 2015
by Alyssa Merritt
3 Comments

It’s A Man’s World

In all of the Shakespeare plays we have read thus far, the women have a very different role than the men. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream we are introduced to Hippolyta, an Amazon warrior, who gets defeated in a battle against Theseus, resulting in their marriage. Shakespeare, is making sure it’s well known that men can and should have control over even the strongest, and fiercest of women. In Twelfth Night Viola must disguise herself as Cesario in order to lead a more fulfilling life because she doesn’t have a man to help her. In Othello both Desdemona and Emilia are killed by their husbands. Both murders happen because of jealousy. The men assume all women are promiscuous therefore Othello and Iago believe their wives have cheated on them. In Richard III we are introduced to Lady Anne who is easily persuaded by Richard to marry him even though he had killer her husband. Lady Anne also ends up dying at the hands of Richard. In each of the plays women are seen as objects that are stepping stones to help them gain power.

In Julius Caesar however, it women seem to play an even less significant role. In the first four acts there are only two female characters in the play. There is very little mention of these women because the plays main focus is on politics. Women are excluded from politics because they were seen as weak and inapt. In general being a women is seen as a bad thing in Julius Caesar. Telling a story about Caesar, Cassius states he begged for water “like a sick girl”, thus implying being a woman is a bad because it means you are weak and incapable of ruling.

Both Brutus and Caesar seem to ignore their wives and consider them to be annoying and cumbersome. For instance, Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, says “Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home. / She dreamt tonight she saw my statue, [. . .] / And these does she apply for warnings and portents / And evils imminent, and on her knee / Hath begged that I will stay at home today.” (II.ii.75-82). Yet Caesar does not listen to her pleas and goes out anyway. After Decius convinces him her dream is actually a good thing, Caesar calls Calpurnia’s fears foolish and states that he was ashamed he was actually thinking of staying home.  Although, Caesar neglected to fully listen to her warnings and fears, Calpurnia’s dream predicted what was to come for Caesar. Therefore, it would have been in his best interest to listen to her and not leave. But what does she know? She’s just a girl.

Portia has a similar struggle with her husband Brutus because he refuses to confide in her. She tries so hard to be a part of Brutus’ world but he keeps excluding her. Unfortunately, Portia also talks about women as if they are less important and weaker than men. For example in act 2 she states, “I grant I am a woman; but withal / A woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter. / Think you I am no stronger than my sex, / Being so fathered and so husbanded?” (2.1.317-325). In this passage Portia is saying that she knows she’s just a girl but she if from a noble family, therefore, she just as strong as other women because of her father and her husband. It’s sad that the only reason Portia sees herself as a strong woman is because of her noble family, aka her father, and her husband. In this passage there is no mention of being strong in the sense that she is independent and self-confident. It’s actually quite the opposite. She is only strong because of the men that she depends on.

In most of Shakespeare’s plays women seem to be portrayed as feeble and irrelevant. Even when they try to take a stand for what they believe in they seem to be shut down immediately by a man. Thus, making women appear even more irrational than they did to begin with. I’d like to say I hope women are portrayed differently in some of Shakespeare’s other plays, but I think, at this point, it’s safe to say that’s not going to happen.

November 4, 2015
by kristin Lynch
0 comments

The Walking Shakespeare; a comparison of main characters

 

Julius Caesar is a play that presents a competition between two forms of government. Caesar represents the monarch way of doing things and Brutus and his crew represent the democratic way of deciding the fate of the people. As I got two know each character throughout acts 1-4 I began to analyze each man’s character and characteristics of leadership roles. I could not help but to draw parallels between these two men’s leadership characteristics and that of Shane and Rick from AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead. Two men; one no better than the other. Both have faced violence and war. Both see each other as a brother or close friends. Both have very different ideas about what is best for the people.

Shane like Caesar is viewed by the people as more then capable to rule. He appears just as modest as he needs to and has kept them safe so far so, he must be a great ruler. Both Caesar and Shane consider themselves more valuable than any other person and are said to become irrational and feared when given positions of power.  Both characters make decisions with personal intent and to subtlety manipulate the people in to thinking they are genuinely modest. Like when Shane went crazy and broke the chain on the barn (because he was mad). But, made it look like he was just oh so eager to protect the people. Comparatively Caesar pushed the crown aside in front of a crowed three times, appearing to be thinking about what is best for the people. But, clearly thinks he would be the best to rule; he refers to himself as something like a god. Both characters will go to great lengths to save face and prove their leadership. For example, Caesar trusts his wife when she tells him not to go to the capital. However, he ignores his wife’s prophesy to prove his capability of receiving the crown. Both characters become a target as soon as some of the people closer to their environment start to catch on to how fake they are. One by one, the group of high ranked folks in both Shake spears play and the TV series see the men as completely arrogant and weekend from power. At the moment of death for each character we see a very calm approach to their extinction. Rick slowly removes his gun and starts handing it over to Shane as a way of manipulating Shane in to thinking he can trust him while obtaining a position to kill. The conspirators do the exact same. The men (except Brutus) kneel down in front of Caesar and plead for the release of someone. It is then, when the heads of men without brains are the biggest they are the weakest. Both Caesar and Shane are stabbed by a friend for the greater good.

The parallels between Brutus and Rick are also pretty cool to explore. Brutus and Rick know how they truly feel about their hot headed friend, but they wait for other friends to bring it up to them before they start making plans to do something about it. These characters are ultimately pushed to the point of killing for the greater good, but they don’t want to at fist. Rick has to (kill) now that he sees Shane for as violent as he feared anyone would become. Brutus feels he has to (kill) because he knows what Caesar is capable of and has to make a move before he gets the crown and possibly does something stupid. Both Rick and Brutus are known for being honorable and it is ultimately their honor (Caesars to Rome/the people, Ricks to Lori/the people) that causes them to kill not in cold blood but in sacrifice to assure fairness for everyone. Brutus tells Antony in Act3 Scene1, “Why I, that did love Caesar when I struck him, Have thus proceeded”. This line pin points the emotions of Ricks and Brutus’s  character so well. These men are not killers. They loved their friend, but he was corrupt. As Brutus puts it something like I love Rome more, Rick says something like I killed my best friend for you people!

November 4, 2015
by Brianna Aldrich
2 Comments

Brutus the brute.. or the Innocent?

In Julius Caesar, we come across many power hungry males who are all fighting to do what they think is best for their people. With this desire for power comes selfish ambitions for many of the males, however, one who I believe really desires the best for the people and gets caught up in the battle is Brutus. While Brutus’ actions may make him seem harsh, his intentions stay true throughout. Brutus seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place throughout the entirety of this play. We see that in ways he is easily swayed as a character and notice time after time that he doesn’t always think for himself, however, he always puts the people first.
Brutus is a generally honorable character, which is what makes his betrayal to Caesar so difficult for him. From the very beginning of the play, we know that Brutus second guesses the moves that Caesar makes for his people, however, he does not act upon going against him and his ways up until the moment that he is persuaded by the conspirators to take Caesar down, for the people of course. He has known that Caesar needs to go, justifying it because he knows the crown will change him as a person, but it is the letter from Cassius and persuasion of the conspirators that allow Brutus to take in on the action. We see the pain that Brutus wears as he toasts with Caesar before his murder. There is a part of Brutus that doesn’t want Caesar dead and we can see it from his lines, however, he genuinely is killing him strangely enough from the good of his heart. He says to the other conspirators, “Grant that, and then is death a benefit. So are we Caesar’s friends, that have abridged His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop, And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords. Then walk we forth, even to the marketplace, And waving our red weapons o’er our heads Let’s all cry, “Peace, freedom, and liberty!” (Act 3 Scene 1 lines 113-120). In other words, Brutus is telling the conspirators that because they are Caesar’s friends, they are doing him a favor by taking his life away while he is still at a young age, this way, he won’t have the struggle of waiting to die one day. He then victoriously tells them that they will smear Caesar’s blood on their swords to symbolize the new way of life their people will have now that they are free of Caesar. With this being said, I think it’s important to notice that little does Brutus understand the fact that he would have been persuaded to make the actions towards Caesar by Cassius, despite his good intentions in doing so anyways.
Another place where we see Brutus’ attempts for “good gone wrong” is during his and Mark Antony’s speeches after Caesar has died. Brutus argues that Antony can be trusted in speaking on Caesar’s behalf, however, after Brutus woos the audience with his earnest intentions in the situation, Antony uses his time to sway the people into seeing the brutality behind Brutus and the conspirators.
It is hard to not feel sympathy towards Brutus as a character because I think he is most definitely the most complex of them all, and it is sad to see him so easily taken advantage of and put into bad situations. Although no one forces him to make the decisions he does, I believe he is an innocent character because of the good intentions he has behind all of his actions.

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