Julius Caesar pp

The Tragedy of
Julius Caesar
Shakespeare and His Times
 List everything you already know about Shakespeare
and the Elizabethan Era.
 List the Shakespearean plays you have read in or
outside of school.
 Why do we read Shakespeare?
Wrote/produced 37 plays over a 20-30 year period
Considered the greatest English language playwright in history.
Coined hundreds of words/phrases still used in modern
Shakespeare and His Times
 When William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was
born in Stratford-on-Avon, England was in
the midst of its Renaissance. Queen
Elizabeth I was the ruling monarch. It was
a time of national strength and wealth, and
the prevailing attitude was that life was
exciting. It was an age of exploration, not
only of the world but also of human nature
and the English language.
Ideas that Characterize the English Renaissance
 Humans had potential for development.
 The Protestant Reformation paved the way for rapid
advances in art, science, and philosophy.
 This was a time for heroes. The ideal Elizabethan
man was a talented courtier, adventurer, fencer,
poet, and conversationalist. He was a witty and
eloquent gentleman who examined his own nature
and the causes of his actions.
 The Medieval premise that the world is a preparation
for eternal life was questioned.
 People began to see everyday life as meaningful; an
opportunity for noble activity.
“Natural Order”
 While some medieval notions were being reevaluated and
discarded, others remained. Elizabethans still maintained
a firm belief in the “Natural Order.”
A hierarchy that set God above humans, humans above animals,
animals above inanimate living things like plants, and plants above
non-living things like minerals.
Originated with Plato and expressed the notion that there is a
proper order within all things, based on complexity, from the
tiniest grains of sand to heaven and God. When everything was in
its proper position, there was harmony.
“Great Chain of Being”
 Like the Natural Order, it was reflected in the social
structure, in which royalty, nobility, gentry, and
peasantry were not mere social classes but
considered almost different species.
 If the chain was broken, everything was upset and
everyone suffered.
 Any upset in the great chain was portended by signs
and divinations in nature– signs in the stars, the
weather, unusual behavior, etc. Shakespeare makes
mush of these signs in his plays.
The English Renaissance cont’d
 Elizabethans still believed in the Divine Rule
of Kings- that the reigning monarch was
God’s agent. To rebel against a reigning
monarch was to rebel against God and upset
the great chain, and disastrous
consequences followed.
 The English army was in Ireland attempting
to suppress a rebellion.
Features of Shakespeare’s Use of Language
Blank verse
Shakespeare’s essential pattern in his plays is BLANK VERSE (unrhymed
iambic pentameter)
Shakespeare shifts his language from poetry to prose, rhymed to unrhymed,
pentameter to tetrameter to create mood or establish character, or some
other notable dynamic.
Be aware of shifts in language such as these:
Commoners speak in prose. When Marullus speaks to commoners, he
switches to prose as well (Act I, scene i).
Casca speaks in prose when he relates the scene of Caesar’s refusal of the
crown (Act I; scene ii).
Brutus’ speech to the crowd is in prose (Act III, scene ii).
Use of figurative language (especially simile and metaphor) to amplify
Shakespeare’s Language Annotations
 Rhetorical/literary devices
in Julius Caesar
Aristotelian Appeals
 A statement consisting of two parallel parts in which
the second part is structurally-reversed.
 “Susan walked in, and out rushed Mary.”
 “The land was ours before we were the land’s”—
Robert Frost
 The Sun came up upon the left,/ Out of the sea came
he!”—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 Reversal of subject-verb-object order of usual English
 “Rarely had she felt so awkward.” [She had rarely felt so
 “Lying beside the road was the injured collie.” [The injured
collie was lying beside the road.]
 Effect: Calls attention to sentence element that is out of
conventional order and so creates a special kind of emphasis.
Makes tone more formal and self-conscious
“Ask not [do not ask] what your country can do for you; ask what you
can do for your country.”—John F. Kennedy
 Type of understatement in which an idea is expressed
by negating its opposite
“It was not a pretty picture,” to describe a horrific
“He’s no fool,” to imply wisdom.
“Not uncommon,” to mean “frequent.”
Effect: The surface denial serves, through ironic
contrast, to reinforce the underlying assertion.
 Substituting the name of one object for another
object closely associated with it.
 “The throne” is a metonymic synonym for “the king.”
 “Shakespeare” is a metonym for the playwright’s
 Using part of an object to represent the entire object
 A fleet of ships may be described as “forty sails.”
 Athletes have been nicknamed “Muscles” and “the
 In Act I of Julius Caesar, Cassius says of Caesar, “Ay,
and that tongue of his that bade the Romans/ Mark
him and write his speeches in their books,/ 'Alas!’ it
cried, 'Give me some drink, Titinius,’/ As a sick girl.”