Hamlet, the torn child

When I first started reading this play, something started kind of niggling at the back of my mind, especially when I came to the scene in Act 3 when Hamlet is confronting his mother about remarrying so quickly and then is (or pretends to be) accosted by his father’s ghost. Up until this point, it’s pretty believable to the audience that Hamlet’s madness is feigned, and we have no reason to believe otherwise because his reasons, as they are revealed to us, seem as logical as they can be. Yet here, we see (or, rather, I saw) a very different side to Hamlet than the calculating decisions made in Acts 1-2 and the clearly disjointed actions and words in Act 4. Here, Hamlet appears to be very deeply disturbed–cutting off his address to his mother completely when simply acknowledging the presence of the ghost would have probably been good enough evidence for madness–beyond the behavior he displays elsewhere. This, of course, is speculation–it’s also entirely possible that the encounter with the ghost is something staged by Hamlet to further his façade from confusion of mind to violent psychosis, thus rationalizing the eventual murder of the King–but nevertheless, it stood out to me as being a deeper kind of breakdown than the rest.

This revelation got me thinking about children from broken homes (that is, from families whose parents are divorced or separated). One of the damaging side effects of divorce to children is the tendency of parents to pit their children against each other, so that the child is forced to choose sides in a fight that is not his or her own. This also sometimes occurs after parents remarry–the child is caught between the mother and Dad’s new girlfriend, etc, etc. Hamlet, despite coming to his dilemma through different circumstances, seems to be similarly plagued. Like the child caught between two parents, Hamlet is caught between the wishes of his dead father and the combined authority of his mother and the new King. To preserve his own freedom by refusing to do away with his uncle would be a direct betrayal to his father–damaging his own legitimacy as his father’s son and failing his father personally. Yet to murder the new king will not only hurt his mother, but also likely send Hamlet to his captivity and eventual demise–the murder will, if all goes as planned, affix to him a label of madness and brand him for captivity; if his feigned madness fails, it will send him immediately to execution as a murderer and traitor to Denmark. In this light, it doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch to read Hamlet’s accosting of his mother as a manifestation of the psychological turmoil of being placed in this position, and by extension, his hatred of her quick marriage to her brother-in-law as (partially) coming from the fact that his lose-lose situation is kind of their fault. I’m interested to see how the rest of the play works out in terms of how Hamlet deals with his challenge.

“To be or not to be”

Prior to this class I have had almost no experience with Shakespeare. I have heard of the famous line “To be or not to be” but did not have a clue to what play it was in, what it meant, or who exactly said it. The first time I was informed about its context was in this class. After initially reading Hamlet’s famous speech I automatically knew I had to read it again to try and fully understand what he was saying. My reasoning behind this was not only was this because of its length, but also because of its significance to the play and Shakespeare in general.

After rereading the speech it became obvious that Hamlet is reflecting about death. The question though, is whose death is he thinking about or rather why death? At the same time I started to think, is he talking about his own death? My initial reaction of the very first line “To be or not to be” leads me to believe so. He is clearly questioning if it is better to be alive or dead so I would not doubt that it is about his own life. Hamlet has to deal with so much, which shows by the crazy actions he does and things he says, so it would not surprise me if he were referring to suicide. He then ponders about what death is like. He compares it to sleeping and says, “To die, to sleep- no more- and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” (62-65). At first this does not sound like a bad idea to Hamlet. Everyone likes to sleep, right? But then, he connects sleeping with dreaming, which completely changes his mind on the entire idea. He fears that the dreams he will have from “sleeping” will be about his things he has done wrong while alive, so more like nightmares. This makes him think about almost everything that could possibly go wrong in life and goes on and on about what he or other men can suffer from. Some of them include, “The pangs of despised love, he law’s delay, the insolence of the office…” (74-75). These ideas then lead him back to the topic of death except this time he realizes why one would choose life over death. In line 85 he says, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.” Hamlet is basically saying that if you fear death you are a coward and nobody wants to be a coward.

Honestly, I sympathize for Hamlet. I would be pretty upset if I were in his position too. I cannot say I would go as mad as he does, but I understand the reasoning behind the things he says and does. What I got from this speech is that Hamlet is very confused. It is sad to think that he has come to a point where all he thinks about is death, but it is the state of mind he is in so there is nothing we can do, but hope for the best throughout the rest of the play.

Ophelia’s Insanity

When I first read her speech I thought to myself this girl is crazy! But then as I finished reading her speech I thought about everything she has been through and now I actually feel bad for her. Ophelia has been through hell and back, Hamlet leads her on only for her to figure out that it’s all a game and he is only dragging her through the mud. He doesn’t care about her and on top of that she loses her father.

On page 1730, section 4 act 5 she says on line 24 “Say you? Nay, pray you, mark. (Sings) He is dead and gone, lady, He is dead and gone, At his head a grass-green turf, At his heels a stone. Oh, ho” I believe that she shares her sadness as her father died and the fact that he had such a secretive, quiet and unknown barrel makes it even worse. She goes on with her speech dreading her father’s death and observing such lack of respect for her father’s death. The fact that she is singing in a tree and is telling people to listen to her even though they are talking is quiet frightening.

After that, Gertrude then begins to explain to Laertes that Ophelia has drowned! The way Gertrude explains Ophelia’s death gives vivid details about Ophelia as a character, her feelings and how she couldn’t deal with everything that has happened to her. Gertrude says on page 1739, act 4 scene 7,

There is a willow grows aslant a brook

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.

There with fantastic garlands did she come

Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.

There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,

When down her weedy trophies and herself

Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,

And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,

Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds

As one incapable of her own distress,

Or like a creature native and indued

Unto that element. But long it could not be

Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,

Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.”

 

 

I love how she explains the different wild leaves being weaved together and Ophelia actually explains what each flower symbolizes in her mind. Ophelia    says on page 1734 act 4 scene 5

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts…..

And she goes on by saying

There’s fennel for you, and columbines.

—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me.

We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays.

—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.

—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets,

but they withered all when my father died.

They say he made a good end (sings)….”

 

Her body was in the water and all the flowers she made were also there as a memoir so everyone would remember her because she saw her father with an unmemorable death or burial so maybe she made those flowers so everyone will remember where she died. The fact that her clothes sunk her down to her death leads to my belief of her clothes symbolizing her problems and them being so heavy results in how much these clothes (problems) weighted on her. The clothes were so heavy they were the reason for her death. Her father’s death, Hamlet’s mean ways of treating Ophelia has forced her to commit suicide. She literally goes insane and takes her own life as her clothes fill with water and pull her down to her death. This speech she states gives so much detail to Ophelia’s character and state of mind.

 

 

 

Laertes even see’s the horrific change in Ophelia’s state of mind and says on line 25 on page 1736,

“And so have I a noble father lost,

A sister driven into desperate terms,

Whose worth, if praises may go back again,

Stood challenger on mount of all the age

For her perfections. But my revenge will come.”

 

 

 

Even Claudius says on line 49 act 4 scene 5

“Oh, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs.

All from her father’s death and now behold!”

 

I am glad I am not the only one that thinks Ophelia has gone insane. On the same hand, I feel bad for her and everything that she has been through but she has gone in the deep end because she commits suicide in the water!

Is it love?

We have seen many varying relationships between men and women in Shakespeare’s plays this semester. We’ve seen Hippolyta; a strong warrior woman, who is defeated and wooed by Theseus. Also the relationship between Caesario and Olivia is genuine but doesn’t continue under the same circumstances.

The relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia is quite different from  the relationships we have seen in plays this semester. The relationship is known but it seems like it hasn’t developed to the extent others, including the audience wish it would have. Gertrude’s words to Ophelia at her grave coincide with this belief, she says: “[S]weets to the sweet! Farewell./ I hop’d thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;/ I thought thy bridebed to have deck’d, sweet maid,/ [A]nd not have strew’d thy grave” (244-247). It is interesting that Hamlet’s mother was hopeful about their relationship, but Hamlet himself did not act appropriately. He realizes that his actions were inappropriate and did not show his true feelings. He claims: “I lov’d Ophelia. [F]orty thousand brothers/ [C]ould not (with all their quantity of love)/ [M]ake up my sum. [W]hat wilt thou do for her?” (280-282).

I think Hamlet acts the way he does because he knows this relationship will never work out. The influence Polonius and Laertes have on Ophelia is immense. Laertes warns her that Hamlet is only toying with her. He claims:

 

For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,

Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood;

A violet in the youth of primy nature,

Forward, not permanent_ sweet, not lasting;

The perfume and suppliance of a minute;

 

Polonius allows his daughter to confide in him about what Hamlet and her engaged in. She claims: “[H]e hath, my lord, of late made many tenders/ [O]f his affection to me” (109-110). Ophelia seems to have a response that always defends Hamlet when her father warns her she claims: “hath importun’d me with love/ [I]n honourable fashion” (120-121).

The way each of the them act toward one another is not loving nor even friendly. Hamlet seems to be testing Ophelia but his intentions are blurred by his madness. Ophelia does not understand his actions and seems to feel sorry for him. It takes the death of her father Polonius to her open her eyes to how serious this is. Ophelia’s death is very interesting because her intent to kill herself was not there from the get-go. As she laid in the stream after falling she realized she could die. I think Ophelia was looking for an escape all along but couldn’t find one until that very moment.

The love between Ophelia and Hamlet is forbidden and clouded by the events that take place in this play. Hamlet seems more concerned about killing his uncle rather than tending to his lady. We don’t get a snapshot of their relationship outside of this period of time and that makes it difficult for the audience to believe whether they loved at all. Hamlet has his moments where he portrays his love and reflects on his actions. Is this love really true? Or is a façade? Is Shakespeare trying to say something in particular about forbidden love? I’d say.

 

Connecting Pippin and Hamlet

As I have said in a previous blog post, I enjoy making connections between the text and other shows, movies, etc. that I am familiar with. Last time I was able to draw ties between Richard III and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. While reading Hamlet I could not help but think about the show Pippin that I saw two years ago on Broadway.

Pippin is about a prince, named Pippin, who seems to lack a passion or meaning in life. He wants to please his father, King Charles or Charlemagne. Pippin’s father has remarried and Pippin now has a stepmother, Fastrada, and a stepbrother named Lewis. I thought that it was interesting how the roles in Hamlet are reversed. Hamlet’s father, Hamlet I, has been murdered and now Hamlet has a new stepfather, Claudius. In Pippin it does not explicitly state how his mother passed away or how much time has passed before Charlemagne remarried, but we know that Gertrude remarried extremely quickly. Not only did she remarry quickly, she married her husband’s murderer, who happens to be his brother!

Charlemagne and Lewis bond over war and going to fight against the Visigoths. Pippin has never really formed a connection with his father because interested in education, rather than war. Pippin, being determined to prove that he is his father’s son, says that he is also going to war. This is similar to how Hamlet wants to prove that he is his father’s son and do the thing that he asked of him, which is to kill Claudius. Hamlet is uneasy about this task, just as Pippin is uneasy about going to war against the Visigoths.

Fastrada does not really care about Pippin, or really her husband for that matter. She only thinks about her and her biological son, Lewis. Lewis is an excellent fighter and she hopes that Pippin and Charlemagne will die in combat. While in Hamlet, Claudius kills his brother because he wants to become king; Fastrada plots Charlemagne and Pippin’s demise so that her son can be crowned king. After a little convincing, Pippin decides to lead a revolution against his father’s tyranny. Fastrada comes up with a plan for Charlemagne’s murder, telling Pippin that he will be praying at Arles. Pippin goes through with the act of murder, even though at first he was unsure if he should go through with the task because it is wrong to kill him during prayer. This is different than when Hamlet had the opportunity to murder Claudius while he was ‘praying.’ Although Pippin considers not committing the act because Charlemagne is praying, he still does it. Hamlet did not want to kill Claudius in this moment. “To take him in the purging of his soul/ When he is fit and seasoned for his passage? No” (3.3.86-89). Although Claudius was not really repenting for his sins because he is glad to be king, Hamlet wants him to go to purgatory.

Pippin is now the new king and soon realizes that it is extremely hard to please all the people. Being put in the place of power, he understands why Charlemagne did the things that he did. This again is of course different than Hamlet because Hamlet will never understand why Claudius did what he did, other than the obvious fact that he wanted to become king. Pippin even goes as far as to beg for his father back. Of course, because this is a musical, and going even farther to say that Pippin is a musical within a musical; Charlemagne is casually brought back to life.

Hamlet’s internal struggle is a little bit deeper than Pippin’s because he has to deal with the fact that his mother is now in a relationship with his father’s murderer, seeing the ghost of his father, and of course mourning his loss. Hamlet decides to start behaving differently. “As I perchance hereafter shall think meet/ To put an antic disposition on” (1.5. 173-74). This suggests to the reader that he is putting on an act, which happens to be genius. If Hamlet murders Claudius it will be considered treason and he will be put to death, if he is considered sane. If Hamlet is considered mad, then he could technically be “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

I find that it is really helpful when reading a Shakespearean work to find connections between the text and something that I am familiar with and enjoy. Although Pippin and Hamlet have both similarities and differences, it is helpful to remember what the plot is if I have something to refer to. This also proves that Shakespeare will and always will be relevant in society.

(Sorry this post is a little long, I really enjoy writing about Broadway!)

The Unused Wife

Something that stood out to me while reading Julius Caesar was Brutus’s almost dismissive treatment of Portia, even after she has proven her devotion to him by physically injuring herself and suffering the pain in silence. At this time, of course, I suppose one wouldn’t expect to see women taking an incredibly active role in their husbands’ jobs. However, women carry subtle but strong power in many of Shakespeare’s plays, and Julius Caesar is no exception–we see even the great Caesar ready to skip an important Senate hearing when Calpurnia begs him not to, citing bad omens. Although they may not carry the outward influence of their male counterparts, women make important contributions when it comes to swaying important decision-makers and causing behind-the-scenes change.

Why, then, does Brutus keep Portia at an arm’s length? Portia herself asks this question directly in 2.1, when Brutus dodges her questions of his emotional health:

“Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,

Is it excepted I should know no secrets

That appertain to you? …

…If it be no more,

Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.” (278-286)

and

“Think you I am no stronger than my sex,

Being so fathered and so husbanded?

Tell me your counsels; I will not disclose ’em.

I have made strong prof of my constancy,

Giving myself a voluntary wound

Here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience,

And not my husband’s secrets?” (290-301)

Many people in the class talked about the role of women versus men at the time, and that politics was almost more important than “insignificant” domestic affairs. When I read it, I think that Portia is, in a way, marketing herself as an asset of sorts. Emotionally speaking, she is there to support Brutus, to hear his worries, and to proffer advice when needed. However, she also brings her background knowledge of politics into play. Though she is “just a woman,” she comes from a long line of well-known political figures, and not only knows the value of loyalty and secrecy, but also proves in a shocking display of self-harm that she is, in fact capable of hiding crucial information even at great personal expense. In this way, Portia elevates herself above the others of womankind, claiming that she can be of much more use to Brutus if he begins to see her as a individual and not simply as a woman–and, while it isn’t clearly established that she could have prevented her husband’s downfall, one wonders whether or not Brutus might have made different decisions had he relied on her counsel and included her in his decision-making as she had requested. I think that this dichotomy between Portia and Brutus reflects the anti-monarchy criticicms present in this play insofar as it mirrors the fears the Roman people begin with of the Caesar–he fails to consider the needs and contributions of others and becomes blinded by his own ambitions.

Continuing our discussion on monarchy versus republic

Yesterday in class we all had the opportunity to discuss in our small groups whether we think the type of government in Julius Caesar is a monarchy or republic. I know that my group in particular had a hard time agreeing on an answer as we all had different opinions. Although both sides could be easily argued and I am still not 100% confident with my answer, I would say that it is a monarchy rather than republic solely based on the rhetoric used throughout the play. Within my blog I will clearly side with the idea of the government being a monarchy, but if necessary, will counter my notion and make sure to recognize both sides. The purpose of this blog is to further the discussion of the question asked in class yesterday and to provide reasoning as to why I am convinced it is more so a monarchy rather than republic. Feel free to agree or disagree, as I am interested to see what others have to say!

From the beginning of the play certain characters demonstrate powerful authority. Antony makes Caesar’s authority clear by saying, “I shall remember: When Caesar says ‘Do this’, it is performed” (1.2. 11-12). The reason people had such negative opinions about him was because he was so controlling and gaining too much power. If this was not a problem he would not have been such a threat and maybe not even killed. A republic is form of government in which supreme power is held by the people and has an elected president or leader. Why would the people choose Caesar if they were afraid of him? To counter this idea one could easily argue that he became greedy and changed over time, but I still believe something could have been done to prevent this from happening. Regardless of what happened before his death, Caesar was still feared based on his fast rise of unpopular power.

After watching Antony perform his oration it confirmed my personal opinion of the government being a monarchy over republic and is perfect evidence to support this idea. Before Antony gave his speech Brutus spoke to the crowd of people and convinced them that Caesar’s death was a good thing and that they should all happy it is over with. It does not take much to persuade them, which backfires on him once Antony is given the chance to speak. Antony knows exactly what he is saying and what needs to be said to get the crowd to be on his side. When reading the play it did not occur to me that he was being tricky, but after watching it, it could not have been more obvious. He was also sneaky by flaunting Caesar’s will knowing it would reel everyone in. I view this part of the play to be Antony’s way of controlling the people of Rome without them thinking anything of it. They might think they have their own opinions and are in control of everything when in reality Antony is.

Focusing on Caesar’s Character

I am used to enjoying Shakespeare’s comedies but Julius Caesar is just such a tragedy!  Julius Caesar is thought of as a superstitious man. This play contains a mixture of superstitions, misinterpreted omens, and ironic religious symbolism. One main character in Julius Caesar is Caesar himself, he continually ignores, misinterprets, or exploits leading to his own death and horrible ending. From almost the moment he enters the scene, we know Julius Caesar is a superstitious man. For instance,  after Casca silences the crowd (1.2.2), Caesar addresses his wife, Calpurnia, and tells his friend, Marc Antony to touch her so that she may be cured of her “sterile curse” (1.2.8). Here we see not only Caesar’s superstition, but his tendency toward using it to make himself look better. He always wants to be perceived as the best and that he is great at everything which in reality he really wasn’t the best!

When Caesar publicly called Calpurnia sterile, he tries to ensure that their inability to have children is attributed to her physical weakness, not his. He basically bashes her and blames everything on her which is a shame. I think this shows a great chunk of Caesars personality and how he thinks of Calpurnia.

I find it fascinating that just a couple lines down in the play, Caesar is hailed by a soothsayer that alarms him to “beware the ides of March” (1.2.18). But Caesar only reacts by brushing his words away and calling him “a dreamer” (1.2.24). This is unsurprising for Caesar to say these types of things because he thinks of himself so highly and everything he doesn’t agree with he just disregards it.

I can see clearly that Caesar’s superstition is super selective.  Maybe he did not pay close mind to the soothsayer because he was in the public eye but he still shouldn’t of have said what he did. I know he avoids showing himself as a weak or fearful character so he will say anything to keep the public eye from knowing how he really feels.

At one point, Shakespeare sharing a part in the play where Caesar privately chats with Antony and says “I rather tell thee what is to be feared, than what I fear; for always I am Caesar” (1.2.210). This shows that Caesar does have fear but will do anything to keep it a secret and hidden from the public eye. He plays his character as a fearless master that is on a higher level than everyone else but what he shares with Antony doesn’t really support that theory.

I also found another example of Caesar’s superstition when he decides to request advice of the auguries’ priests to help him choose whether to go to the senate or not (2.2.5).  This doesn’t really go with the character he claims himself to be!  I honestly find this to be odd because he is okay with being influenced only from good vibes and omens.  His wife also shares these same features as she begs him not to attend the Senate, because of her having a dream that she had (2.2.50) which is strange because the soothsayer tells him advice and Caesar disregards it saying the soothsayer is a “dreamer”. In the end Caesar says that he will stay home for only her sake (2.2.56).

All in all, Caesar plays a huge part in this play but focusing on his character really shows how superstitious he is and how he shares some of these qualities with other characters in the play as well. I think if Caesar wasn’t the way he was and didn’t handle or act in the ways he did maybe he would of lived and not have been killed.

Feminine Weakness in Julius Caesar

Over the course of the semester we have spoken a lot about the ways in which Shakespeare portrays his female characters in his works. Unfortunately there are very few examples of powerful women in the works that we have read and I am not sure if there are going to be that many more as we continue reading his plays.

While the women so far in Julius Caesar can definitely be described as loyal, I think it is important that girls have strong and independent literature role models.

One woman in particular stood out to me so far while reading, Brutus’ wife Portia goes as far as stabbing her own thigh to show that she too can be strong. “Giving myself a voluntary wound/ Here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience, /And not my husband’s secrets?” (2.1.309-311). Although it is important for men to view women as just as strong and capable as them, I think that there are definitely other ways to go about getting this message across. For example, Olivia in Twelfth Night stands up for herself, not allowing men like Duke Orsino control her. Swearing off men after the death of her brother is a pretty independent thing to do, since so many women in Shakespeare’s works rely on having a man tell them what to do. While Portia stabs herself to show that she can handle the secrets that Brutus is keeping, he almost brushes her off and does not really care about the fact that she just injured herself. Portia is willing to make sacrifices to be viewed as a confidante, but really it is just another example of feminine weakness in Shakespeare.

It is important to note that during this time period, women were viewed as second-class citizens and that is why Shakespeare characterizes women in this way. Being that I am studying to become a teacher, I always look at works from the viewpoint of a teacher, specifically one that teaches younger students. I think that it is important for students to learn about the history that surrounds works that they are reading to gain a better insight on why the author wrote in a certain way. Just like how it is essential for teachers to explain why Othello is called borderline racist names, it is also important to discuss the portrayal of women. Teachers should also supplement reading works where women are viewed as dependent on men with works that display strong feminine characters.

Calpurnia is another woman in Julius Caesar whose thoughts and insights seem to be disregarded and laid out to dry. She tries to warn Caesar about going to the Senate on the Ides of March after she has a nightmare. At first, he listens to her advice and agrees. “Mark Antony shall say I am not well, / And for thy humor I will stay at home” (2.2.55). Just when we think that finally a man in Shakespeare will actually heed to a woman’s advice, Decius Brutus comes along and changes his mind. He tells Caesar that Calpurnia misinterpreted her dream and of course Caesar does not even try to stand up for his wife and her interpretation. I think it is evident that he listens to Decius Brutus’s words because he is a man and Caesar thinks that means that he knows better. This once again proves that women were viewed as weak minorities that are not even worth listening to.

Although I am still hoping to find evidence of strong female characters in Shakespeare, as we get further along in the semester my hopes are waning. I think that it should be noted that if women were regarded just as highly as men, things such as Caesar’s death would not have happened. I am excited to keep reading and to see what happens in the next few acts.

Loyal Wives and Their Instincts in Julius Caesar

Shakespeare tends to portray women as figures who are loyal to men whether they are their fathers or their husbands. The play Julius Caesar is no exception. The wives of the main characters Brutus and Caesar express this virtue in different ways.

Portia; Brutus’ wife claims “[I] should not need, if you were gentle Brutus. /Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,/ Is it excepted I should know no secrets/ That appertain to you? Am I yourself/ But, as it were in sort or limitation,/ To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed, /And talk to you sometimes?“ (108- 113). Portia depicts her tolerance for Brutus’ evil intentions by wounding herself. I feel that this gruesome act displays Portia’s devotion for her husband despite the fact he has the intention to commit an act of murder. Portia has a womanly instinct; which is later strengthened by the sloothsayer. She believes her husband is up to no good. Despite her feelings she is more than willing to keep his secrets. Unfortunately he does not confide in her and instead ignores her acts of desperation. This seems to encourage Portia to later commit suicide by swallowing fire. I wonder if Brutus shared his plan with Portia would she still have engaged in the same act. She was encouraging her husband to confide in her instead she was left a mushroom in the dark as others threatened to take power in Rome.

Calpurnia; Caesar wife expresses her loyalty in a different way she shares a dream with her husband that leads her to believe he could potentially be murdered. Calpurnia claims “[F]iecre fiery warriors fight upon the clouds, / In ranks and squadrons and right form of war, / Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol; / The noise of battle hurtled in the air, Horses did neigh and dying men did groan,/ And ghosts died shriek and squeal about the streets. / O Caesar! these things are beyond all use, / And I do fear them.” (994-1001). Caesar seems to consider his wife’s dream yet, Dectus Brutus convinces him that the dream has a different meaning. Dectus Brutus claims the dream “[S]ignifies that from you great Rome shall suck/ Reviving blood, and that great men shall press/ For tinctures, stains, relics and cognizance./ This by Calpurnia’s dream is signified” (1068-1072). He claims that the blood signifies that Caesar will bring life to Rome. Calpurnia’s words are disregarded as are Portia’s. If Caesar listened to his wife he may have spared his own life.

The women in this play are loyal to their husbands yet they are seen as desperate or anxiety-ridden characters. These women each have an instinct that is ignored by all male figures. In many of Shakespeare’s works women’s voices are excluded or disregarded. The voices of women in these plays are ones of concern and insight. If the Brutus and Caesar listened to their wives the fate of Caesar and Portia may have been different.