Julius Caesar is a highly successful leader of Rome whose popularity seems to model that of a king's. He has assumed that all Romans, including those partial to Caesar, will take up "a place in the commonwealth" cheerfully and lend a hand "in the disposing of new dignities" (III.ii.42; III.i.178) when, in reality, the people would prefer-or they need-a king. The New Historicism, pp. Theodore Mischel (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977), pp. Certainly none of these images captures the character of the man one sees in this play. The plebeians are celebrating Caesar's victory over the sons of Pompey, one of the former leaders of Rome. above the view of men" (I.i.73-74). Fraser del Ida 10 terms. Yet the critics who have most forcefully pronounced the death of the individual, who have questioned most thoroughly the privilege accorded to interiority by Romantic and modernist criticism, often see only an inescapable prison in those social bands and social bonds. Caesar was quite the blue blood. . Similarly, then, Shakespeare indicates the vulnerability of each by emphasizing the tenuousness of honor, as a concept and as a way of life. Not only does the twice-announced death of Portia fail to move Brutus but Caesar's ghost comes and goes before Brutus knows what has hit him: "Why, I will see thee at Philippi then. Both women beg their husbands on bended knee to honor their wishes. Not once in the play does Brutus acquiesce in another's judgment. In the orchard scene, Brutus argues that if murder is necessary to preserve the Republic, it must remain a murder worthy of the victim, the men who would commit it, and the Republic itself. One possible answer, to invoke a rather prominent cluster of images in the play, is that Brutus misjudges the "healthn of the Republic. SoGeorge Herbert Mead, Mind, Self; and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist, ed. 3SPhilip Edwards, "Person and Ofice in Shakespeare's Plays," Interpretations of Shakespeare: British Academy Shakespeare Lectures, ed. . In the face of Cassius's Realpolitik, Brutus argues that above all the conspiracy must avoid the appearance of a power-hungry group battling another for the state's power. . Brutus's firm commitment to his carefully fashioned personal/public identity leads me to question criticisms of a character who, somewhat like Hamlet and "being thus benetted round with villainies" (V.ii.29), fails but fails by working to maintain his name of honor, a name that clearly holds meaning for Brutus because it merges the public and the private, because it is a personal quality defined or achieved within a public or social context. hoped to retreat from, to ease their memories of, radical political failure-the researchers, writers, and theorists who contributed to this point of view about character or the self take little or no account of the social environment in which that self exists and acts, interested as they are primarily in the inner workings of a person's mind and body. 60n this issue see Jonathan Bate, Shakespearean Constitutions: Politics, Theatre, Criticism, 1730-1830 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989) and Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History from the Restoration to the Present (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1989). and find homework help for other Julius Caesar questions at eNotes Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. In such a situation, the hero's choices reinforce one or more parts of that identity, and hence those choices deny other parts of it. Brutus will direct the show and he, not Cassius, will define himself. 'Terence Eagleton, Shakespeare and Society: Critical Studies in Shakespearean Drama (New York: Schocken Books, 1967), p. 204. In this play it is not Falstaff but Antony who makes the point that honor is only a word, subject to slippage and manipulation: "For Brutus is an honorable man; / So are they all, all honorable men" (III.ii.82-83). "American Journal of Sociology 88, 6 (May 1983): 1280-87. One learns to take into account the opinions and expectations of others in one's group-for example, one's family members or one's co-workers. 139-69; Anselm Strauss, Mirrors and Masks: The Search for Identity (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1959); and Guy E. Swanson, "A Sociological Social Psychology? As the play concludes, Brutus isolates himself from his fellows. In short, Montrose urges us to theorize a relationship between subjects and social structures less "paranoidn-to borrow Frank Lentricchia's term15-than those theorized so far. 7H.A. English 2 Julius Caesar Act 3 & 4 Quiz Review 36 terms. Brutus believes that the Republic's "illness" is the result of one man's action and that only his sacrifice is necessary to "cure" the state. Get an answer for 'Identify and explain the cobbler's puns in Julius Caesar.' Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2. . 291 likes. The Julia family firmly believed that they were relatives of the gods. of Chicago Press, 1980). Can I use appear to, may, and many students have … When William Shakespeare first staged his Roman tragedies Julius Caesar (1599) and Coriolanus (c. 1608), he did not introduce his audience to new stories. . Hochschild goes on to argue that like behavior and thought, emotion, too, is subject to standards established by and within a social group. The Julius Caesar problem concerns cross-categorical identities such as “3 = Julius Caesar”. we tend to devalue the public and to elevate the private. Sometimes, it is easy for one to assess the degree of another's involvement in a role; at other times it is not so easy, and one may find oneself, as Othello does, "as tenderly . As a priest not only had to be of patrician stock, but married to a patrician, Caesar broke off his enga… This essay suggests that they are not mutually exclusive theatrical genres, and thus can be combined in one … Given the recent questioning of the Romantic project by critics such as H.A. One must remember, as Cassius emphasizes again and again, that the legal status of the Republic is at issue here, not the character and deeds of Caesar. According to this view, letting Antony off the hook is either the sad, ironic result of Brutus's idealism or the sad, likely result of his simplicity, an inability to keep up with or to judge the times. Press, 19831, p. 148). . What villain touched his body that did stab, This lack of self-consciousness, Brutus's failure to relish "love" (or even lost love), is what leads critics to judge him so harshly. shaunaritchey. And really, Brutus decides quite easily that "it must be by his death." Press, 19631, p. 62). The notions of sortal and category are introduced. . "35 In such a critical milieu it is perhaps not surprising that a reworking during the 1960s and 1970s of the received opinion captured in a volume like Twentieth-Century Views should suggest (also disapprovingly) that Brutus's pursuit of honor actually supports personal rather than purely public aims. . Deciding that belonging to the priesthood would bring the most benefit to the family, he managed to have himself nominated as the new High Priest of Jupiter. As Hugh, M. Richmond explains, Brutus's "very useful virtues of integrity disrupt the ruthless efficiency of Cassius's plot, at the same time as their popular appeal makes that plot possible. "Who is it," Lear wonders, "that can tell me who I am?" 105-23, 106. Brutus's second decision, how to murder Caesar, involves an opposition between the role demands of the politician and the requirements of the dominant strand in his identity, of the style that cuts across his various social roles-his honor. The problem and its significance to some Fregean projects are explained. 73. The History Of Julius Caesar. The tribunes, Marullus and Flavius, break up a gathering of Roman citizens who seek to celebrate Julius Caesars triumphant return from war. Brutus is the character in Juliw Caesar who is so tested. Weimann thinks an understanding of this dialectic is essential to our understanding of Shakespeare's art, for "it is only when these two points of reference-the self and the social-are seen as entering into a dynamic and unpredictable kind of relationship that the most original and far-reaching dimension in Shakespeare's conception of character-the dimension of growth and change-can be under~tood."~. In Renaissance studies, the dethroning of the individual, and its consequent redefinition as an inescapably constrained subject, came into focus with Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance SelfFashi~ning.~, Greenblatt's well-known project was "to understand the role of human autonomy in the construction of identity. Smith found, 2. was 'n Romeinse militêre en politieke leier en een van die mees invloedryke figure in die klassieke geskiedenis. If Brutus is honorable and thus useful to men like Cassius, as well as domineering and thus dangerous to men like Cassius, he is also, it seems, a "gentle" man. In playing her role as wife to Brutus, one may imagine that Portia is like the boy Lucius, who tries to keep pace with his insomniac lord because 'it is my duty" (IV.iii.260). We behold, on the one hand, the implacable code, and on the other, the slippery signifier-the contemporary equivalents of Predestination and Fortune. The decision to spare Antony seems especially perplexing since Cassius does not allow Brutus to ignore this threat. If, through service and ability, as in Caesar's case, one man rises to think he may subdue the state, to make it rise and fall according only to his effort, the citizenry must deny his challenge (else "Romans are but sheep"). Press, 1974), p. 55, Lawrence Danson explains that this is "the question . kmd_dancer. tags: eulogy, mark-antony. Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. Reinforced by a century of work in behavioral or psychoanalytic psychology, such an understanding of character or the self originates it seems in the Romantic's emphasis on his individuality; his attempt to assert the judgment of the individual above that of the group; his sense, as Terence Eagleton puts it, that "real living. Having sacrificed Caesar to his self, to his honor, Brutus finds no more threats in the actions of men: His self is beyond reproach and perhaps beyond reach. Characters, like human beings, develop identity, a sense of self, within a context that is defined by the group; thus empowered, the character, like the individual, may affect the context in which he or she finds himself or herself. Kenneth Muir (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), pp. The point, he insists, is that the conspiracy heal "the sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse" (II.i.l15), not abuse the state in its own turn. But if what one learns is above all social, it becomes (a part of) an individual's psychology, thereby empowering the individual to influence society.lg As George Herbert Mead explains, "the fact that all selves are constituted by or in terms of the social process . All these critics share my sense that Brutus acts to maintain his sense of himself as honorable. The play suggests that for him at least such an end is more than satisfactory. 30Honigmann, p. 45. The Social Const7zlction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Garden City, NY: Anchor-Doubleday Books, 1967), Danson, for example, maintains that the social self is one that winds its way through a "dizzyingly endless process . led by th'nose / As asses are" (I.iii.395-96).22, Sometimes circumstances require a person to lay his self on the line, and in the theater, especially Shakespeare's theater, "a dramatic personality is wasted until his private qualities are successfully (or otherwise) tested in public," as Weimann suggests.23 In Shakespeare's tragedies, one might argue, the self s coherency. But my argument is that Brutus does reveal a good deal about his self when he chooses between the requirements OFhonor and those of friendship or Realpolitik. On his way to the arena Caesar is stopped by a stranger who warns that he should Beware the Ides (15th) of March. He was killed … A person learns to judge herself by virtue of the judgments others make of her and by virtue of the standards others use to judge her. Although each of the major characters (except, interestingly, Portia) describes at least once a deep relationship between the two men, Brutus's responses to Caesar on the whole reveal the same formality and distance that characterize his relationships with other friends and lovers. Tim hurried through his example. Caesar's confiding to Antony at Lupercal indicates that he trusts Antony and looks upon him as a friend in return, perhaps even as a protégé. . He does not "bungle" his attempt to save the Republic because of idealism or simplicity, but because, the play reveals, he will not choose to lose this aspect of self in any effort-not for friendship, not for citizenship, not even for the Republic.''. Brutus chooses to align his self with honor and he accepts the consequences of that choice, but unlike other Shakespearean heroes-Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, Antony, or Coriolanus- he never understands that in a situation like his, in which the very components of self oppose one another, one gains only by losing. is something beyond and above the actual processes of life in ~ociety. As the orchard scene shows, Brutus directs the conspiracy, defines its nature, and indeed, one may suggest, uses it for his own purposes. ", Really it is Cassius who has had the idea for the plot; but he feels the need of a co-author-Brutus-to give the production the kind of prestige and styling that will make it a hit with the audience, the Roman populace. What Brutus does is align himself with honor, the dominant strand in his identity and, as Michael Platt observes, "the principle of the Rep~blic,"'~not with the demands of the politician's role he is playing currently (and as he thinks, temporarily). Weimann's conception of character in Shakespeare challenges what until recently has been a deeply seated assumption that the aim of criticism is less to show "the very age and body of the time / his form and pressure" (HamletIII.ii.22-23)4 than to illumine the self as a secret and personal locus of human consciousness. Julius Caesar Act 4 17 terms. "17 Instead, they argue, what one learns through action and interaction is social for the most part, the expected responsibilities and rights of membership in society, of the roles one plays in society. As a result, a hero finds himself suddenly "at war" with his fellows and, more importantly, as Brutus, Hamlet, Lear, Othello, Macbeth, Antony, and Coriolanus know well, with himself. In Act II, Brutus continues to reveal his inner struggle between his personal feelings for Caesar and his feelings towards protecting his public. In this scene of Act II, Brutus discusses the plot to kill Caesar with the other conspirators. . Click EDIT to add/edit tags. '6Symbolic interactionism is the school of sociology that develops out of pragmatist philosophy. "~ may have wished to, For whatever reasons-some uphold the requirements of science, and some, as Eagleton suggests, wished to criticize the alienation they saw attached to industrial capitalism, and still others, as Jonathan Bate and Gary Taylor ~uggest,~. For me, a focus on Brutus is justified by the support it lends to Weimann's thesis that the testing of private qualities in the public arena, a testing "as a process in time," is, in fact, "the dramatic source of character". But Brutus's firm, terse response to Cassius's initial approach reveals his power to dominate. Thus if in reading or watching a Shakespearean play, one becomes aware, as Lear does, that "unaccommodated man is . . A neo-Fregean argument to the effect that every object belongs to a unique category is criticized and an … Although Caesar is loved and supported by his citizens, some begin to grow wary of his increase in power. After all, Lear is not long on the heath, for he must soon gather what he can of his racked self to plunge again into what is the situation of human beings: not alone and not separate, Lear-like us-is related in many ways to many other people and even is, as he sees, responsible for them (III.iv.28-36). 32Michael Platt, Rome and Romans According to Shakespeare, rev. Brutus states that while he would rather not kill Caesar, Caesar’s death is the only way to ensure the well-being of Rome. .down" ("Jonsonian Comedy and the Discovery of the Social Self," PMLA 99, 2 [March 19841: 179-93, 181). Like “Of all the wonders that I have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing death, a necessary end, Will come when it … I distinguish epistemic, metaphysical and semantic versions. The problem with such a line of argument is that it describes a well-intentioned man acting to save his country who fails because of idealism or simplicity or both. Brutus admits openly, "I know no personal cause to spurn at him" (II.i.11, 19-21, 28-29). Remove redundancies. Somewhat to Cassius' distress, Brutus takes his function very seriously and overrules his partner on a number of points which later turn out to be crucial.26. Julius Caesar. Brutus states that while he would rather not kill Caesar, Caesar’s death is the only way to ensure the well-being of Rome. Rose 24. Choice thus intensifies a hero's relation to a part or parts of his or her identity; generally, choice defines a hero's identity more narrowly. (Lanham, MD and London: Univ. In incident after incident he brushes love aside" (p. 94). Wilson Knight, The Imperial Theme (London: Methuen, 1965), pp. 154- 551). and the slippery signifier" requires us to rethink our modern and postmodern understanding of relationships between subjects and social structures. The relationship between self and society is thus one of (potential) mutual dependence and influence, not one of (necessary) confrontation or determinism. Brutus describes the nature of the "insurrectionn he faces when in reference to Caesar he declares to Cassius, "I would not [have him king]; yet I love him well" (I.ii.82). Iulus was the son of the Trojan prince Aeneas, who was believed to be a direct descendant of the goddess Venus. Or to put it differently, with which parts of self does the assassination align him? These growing feathers plucked from Caesar's wing, Who else would soar above the view of men. carried on to mask an emptiness" and thus is one "you can never, in fact, pin . Always Cassius's "Good reasons must of force give place to bettern-those of Brutus (IV.iii.203). If Cassius holds up a mirror to Brutus, if Cassius invites him into the play, Brutus reveals immediately to Cassius that he is not one to be played with, not a pipe to be played on. and the slippery signifier" requires us to take seriously Weimann's sense that personal autonomy and personal identity are inseparable from social relations and institutions. . Brutus takes his "authorialn responsibilities seriously because, to extend the metaphor, he will be a leading character in the play he writes. equation the privileging of the subject's feelings and consciousness is a relatively recent phenomenon, and second, begin to consider how subjectivity (or autonomy) might be formed when we take into account the subject's location within a social structure, his or her roles, and the rights and obligations associated with them, rather than just his or her feelings and personal consciousness. . '"~, Thus although Shakespeare allows many of his characters-heroes and villains alike-to express some sense of separation from roles, from public activity, from definition by the group, he defines character as occurring and developing within and because of a context of others. Along these lines, Frederic K. Hargreaves, Jr., maintains that Wittgenstein's work also "calls into question the traditional view of emotions as private, subjective experiences which are named by emotion words and which give these words their meaning" as it emphasizes "again the fact that reference to private experience must be subject to some public criteria for the words to have meaningn ('The Concept of Private Meaning in Modern Criticism," CritI7, 4 [Summer 19811: 72746, 729, 729-30). At other times, one only goes through the motions in a role society provides, and thus distances oneself from it, since it expresses a part of self only poorly. shaunaritchey. Can anyone imagine a man in Caesar's-or Lear's-position not associating his self with his role? As Louis Montrose explains, "against the beleaguered category of the historical agent, contending armies of Theory now oppose the specters of structural determinism and post-structural contingency. The Historia Augusta suggests three alternative explanations: that the first … My essay also points out how foreign such an approach is to literary critics, who tend to see roles as unreal or fictitious, a mere mask (or set or succession of masks) hiding the true inner self. H. Aram Veeser (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. Whether it begins in Caesar or in Cassius, Brutus must oppose the "politic" course that would wrap unjust and dishonest means or ends in an appealing package. 'Xertainly, too, Brutus's response to news of Portia's death indicates that some distance and formality characterize their relationship. Julius Caesar Birth Date c. July 12, 0100 BCE Death Date March 15, 0044 BCE Did You Know? Personally, Brutus loves Caesar, but he admits here that his loyalty is to the Roman public. That is, the conspirators "stand up" not against the particular man, Julius Caesar, a friend and colleague who has a barren wife and the "falling sickness," but against the role itself that he would play, a role that is, one might note, bodiless and bloodless until someone begins to play it, to take it on as his own: And in the spirit of men there is no blood.