The Tragedy of Julius Caesar WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 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 English 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: 1. 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 imagery. 2. 3. 4. Shakespeare’s Language Annotations Rhetorical/literary devices in Julius Caesar Anaphora Alliteration Apostrophe Aristotelian Appeals Chiasmus Hyperbole Inversion Litotes Metaphor Metonymy Paradox Personification Pun Simile Synecdoche Chiasmus 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 Inversion Reversal of subject-verb-object order of usual English sentence “Rarely had she felt so awkward.” [She had rarely felt so awkward.] “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 Litotes Type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite “It was not a pretty picture,” to describe a horrific accident. “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. Metonymy 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 works. Synecdoche 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 Toe.” 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.” (I.ii.132-35).