Is Julius Caesar a Political Play?

Julius Caesar is the play written by William Shakespeare. The critics are of the opinion about this play that Julius Caesar is the victory of Caesarism over Republicanism.

Dover Wilson

J. Dover Wilson is a renowned professor and scholar of Renaissance drama. The works of Shakespeare was his main focus. Dover quotes, “The play’s theme is a single one, Liberty versus Tyranny. Shakespeare undoubtedly points to the inevitability of Caesarism as the solution of the political problem of Rome. Shakespeare makes it clear that the situation of Rome requires the strong hand of a single master mind. He takes isolated hints from Plutarch and amplifies them and works them out in his conception of the situation. The plebeians are represented as fickle and violent, greedy and irrational. They have shouted for Pompey; they strew flowers for Caesar; they cheer when their favorite refuses the crown; they wish to crown his ‘better parts’ in his murderer : they will not hear a word against Brutus; they rush off to fire his house; they tear a man to pieces on account of his name and hold Caesar beyond parallel on account of his bequest.”

Where Does Cassius Stand?

Things are not too well with aristocrat Cassius. He is actuated by jealousy. He also confesses if Caesar was in his favor, or in his good graces. Surely, he would have been on Caesar’s side. Apparently, Decius and Casca are straining with servility.

The target of Cassius is Antony. He seeks to win him by a promise of providing him with an equal voice in disposing of the dignities.

Driving Principles of The Governing Classes

  • Envy
  • Ambition
  • Cupidity

The enthusiasm for freedom of the governing classes is equivalent to their enthusiasm for power, prestige and influence.

The Theme of The Play Julius Caesar

To be honest, it is not justifiable to state the theme of the play as Republicanism versus Caesarism.

Truly, Brutus and his comrades uphold the ideology of republicanism and speak very highly of it. However, it is nowhere portrayed as the dominant motive.

Actually, it is Cassius who goes on and on about the theme of republicanism in his endeavor to instigate Brutus to go against Caesar. Nevertheless, his jealousy of the greatness of Caesar is prominently evident.

It was Caesar’s lack of affection for him that turned him against Caesar. Surprisingly, Cassius went as far as to plot a conspiracy against him.

Confusion of Brutus

Evidently, the soliloquy of Brutus in the starlit orchard reveals his confused thinking. The only reason for him to go against Caesar is this hypothetical deduction. He assumes Caesar to be a threat to the freedom of Rome.

Brutus has no intention of affecting his kingship if Caesar is actually as good a monarch as he appears to be.

Therefore, it is extremely doubtful to infer Brutus has any viable republican sympathy.

Political Problem of the Play

Clearly enough, Shakespeare does not have any concerns with the political problems in the play. The main focus of the writer lies in the evolution of the characters.

It is apparent that Shakespeare focuses on the spiritual problems of the characters. His mind is engaged with the delineation of the subtle workings of the minds of the main characters.

Key Attractions of the Play

  • Evolution of characters
  • Subtle workings of the main characters’ mind
  • Spiritual healing
  • Sudden delineation or flip

The above-mentioned themes make the play more intense and attractive.

Character Analysis of the Play

Shakespeare has created such characters in this play that are more like pulsating individuals. All of his characters have paradoxical qualities.

Starting with Julius Ceasar, the main character himself. Caesar is majestic, proud and truly great. But he is not devoid of weaknesses. His drawbacks are his deafness, superstition and fondness for flattery. This way the character of Julius Caesar is humanized.

Cassius is jealous and irascible. But at the same time, he has a deep craving for love and friendship.

Brutus is amazingly noble, yet he is fickle minded. One can call him a confused intellectual. Despite being stoic, Brutus commits suicide in order to avoid capture.

These are the contradictions that make the characters in Julius Caesar vivid and human.

Leave a Comment