Julius Caesar Summary Essay
Julius Caesar, popularly known as ‘The tragedy of Julius Caesar’, is one of the most famous plays by William Shakespeare. It is assumed to be penned by Shakespeare in sometime around 1599. He is known to have read various plays based on true events derived from ancient Roman history along with Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra. Julius Caesar happens to be one of those most sought-after plays. Another interesting concept used by Shakespeare is in the play’s title. He uses the name of a character as its title who has quite less role to play in the whole story which actually revolves around his death and its aftereffects. There are other various significant characters such as Brutus and Antony who are not given credit in the title but used to their utmost best ability in the story. The centre idea of the play summarises Brutus’s struggle between right and wrong along with ethical dilemma and true friendship and loyalty.
This play comprises five acts which are subsequently divided into various scenes are required by the storyline.
In the first scene, the play opens up with a crowded and boisterous street of people in Rome as Julius Caesar is returning from battle. Pompey was the previous king who used to rule Rome with the along Julius Caesar. Both of them were tribunes but they arrive at an indisputable argument about running of the entire nation. Thereafter, Pompey is defeated brutally in a battle and hence, assassinated. Julius Caesar worries that Pompey’s family and supporters should not strike back and due to this fear, he battles with the latter’s sons chasing them till Spain and defeats them too. In the current scenario, Murellus and Flavius come across a group of common people who are making haywire in the street on Sunday morning when they should be working instead and enquire about the same. They find that people are celebrating the fall of Pompey and the rise of Julius Caesar. Both of the talk about how people are not grateful towards their leader. They say that these people should get ready for whatever evil is coming their way now. They were always supportive of Pompey when he rode out and now they have forgotten everything and celebrating his fall. They both dismiss the crowd and decide among themselves that they shouldn’t let Julius Caesar become a true tyrant.
Caesar and Brutus gather along with their wives and other folks in public place and prepare to celebrate the feast of Lupercal which is an annual tradition. Everybody is excited about this festival because of its boons. We find that Antony, Caesar’s friend, will be running at this time in the festival. Caesar tells him to touch his wife, Calpurnia, to remove her barrenness which is one of the boons. After he is done with his business in the street, Julius Caesar encounters a soothsayer or a fortune teller who calls out to him in the crowd. He tells him the famous yet dangerous warning to be beware of the Ides of March. Caesar ignores the warning directly. Later Cassius speaks to Brutus who seems preoccupied with his thoughts which he doesn’t share with Cassius who in turn praises him for his nobleness and says that he is not flattering him. Never the less, Brutus gets the hint of treachery in his tone as Cassius suggests that Romans would rather have someone like him instead of Caesar. Brutus says that he loves Caesar but hopes that the people haven’t crowned him the king which Cassius slyly complies with.
Cassius’s point is brought home as the crowd outside renders violent making Caesar the king. Cassius implies that they shouldn’t make him the king since they are not inferior to be his subjects. Casca comes there and narrates how Caesar has refused the crown while the people still rejoice that how their leader is noble and generous enough to refuse the crown which has been offered three times in a row. Cassius thinks that he will use Brutus to assassinate Caesar.
Later on the eve of Ides of March, the supporters of Pompey and enemies of Julius Caesar meet up and reveal that they have forged the letters to gain the support of Roman people so as to importune Brutus into joining their conspiracy. In the next scene, Brutus reads the letters and after a lot of debate on morals, values and ethics, Brutus hesitantly decides to join the group of conspirators. He intends at stopping Julius Caesar from doing anything wrong or against the people of Rome if he is forced to take the crown. Brutus feels the need for the preservation of Rome as a Republic and hence, takes the drastic decision of going against his own best friend.
Later, Caesar’s has few bad premonitions which she shares with her husband also reminding him of the soothsayer’s warning about the Ides of March. However, Caesar does not pay heed to any of her worries calling her off as a silly superstitious wife. He goes to the Senate where is tricked by a fake petition on behalf of Metellus Cimber’s banished brother. Just as Caesar rejects the petition, he is stabbed by Casca, Cassius and all others, Brutus being the last. Then, he utters the famous dialogue ‘Et Tu Brute’ and then falls down.
Later, the conspirators talk to the public and clarify that they have done this assassination for the good and betterment of Rome. They do not attempt at fleeing the scene very wisely by making Brutus a shield from the wrath of people. Tricked and blindfolded by the conspiracies, Brutus makes a great speech explaining his ideology behind the act of Caesar’s murder. Just for that moment, the crowd seems satisfied and gullibly admit the assassination. However, Mark Antony makes a subtle and sarcastic speech after taking the podium following Brutus. He stands over the carcass of Julius Caesar and delivers an oration that is highly applauded by the public. With added fun and humorous irony, he makes the masses realize the efforts and achievement of Julius Caesar and how it is an unpardonable act to assassinate such a leader. In his rhetorical speech, apparently supporting Brutus, he reminds the public of all the good deeds done by the now deceased Caesar. Antony talks about Caesar’s sympathy with the poor, his refusal of the crown at the Lupercal and how easily Brutus’s incorrect judgment of character has cost them an apt ruler.
After that, Mark Antony allows the mob to have a look at Caesar’s bloodied body and then goes on to reveal Caesar’s will. The public is deeply anguished to realize that Caesar has left seventy-five drachmas (Roman currency) to each one of the people from his will. Therefore, he uses this opportunity to instigate the mob and drive the assassinates away from Rome.
In the next scene, Brutus realizes his fault and the truth behind the forged letters. He then confronts Cassius and attacks him for his treachery. However, Cassius does not budge from his stand and later on, Brutus reconciles with him because his wife commits suicide due to his absence from Rome. He agrees to go on for a fight against Mark Antony and Caesar’s adopted son.
In the next scene, Brutus sleeps at night and in his dreams, he witnesses Julius Caesar who challenges him of bad premonitions and dares to meet his army in Rome.
Next day, during the battle, Cassius and Brutus realize that they shall be killed on noticing the situation going out of hand. On the first day, Cassius is killed by his servant following which his best friend commits suicide. Brutus, though winning the next stage of the battle, is struck by realization and feels guilty for betraying and killing his best friend. He thinks of the last words of Julius Caesar and how he had looked in the dream seen by him the previous night. Hence, drowned in deep guilt and remorse, Brutus kills himself by running his own sword, the same one he used to kill Caesar, down through himself.
In the final scene, the play ends with Mark Antony pays his tributes to Julius Caesar and proclaims him to be the noblest of all men ever to have led the armies of Rome. Then a sequel, or a much-hyped continuation of play, is hinted which was later penned down by Shakespeare titled ‘Antony and Cleopatra’.
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