Theme in Shakepeare's Julius Caesar

By Brian Kim

Theme: Power; William Shakepeare's tragedy, Julius Caear, shows power through the corrupt and fear in the Roman council through rhetorical devices and foreshadowing.

William Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar shows the reader the effects of power and how corrupted and feared it was through characterization, soliloquies and asides. We can first see the description of power and its corruption in Brutus’s soliloquy. In Brutus’s soliloquy, he quotes, “He would be crown'd: How that might change his nature, there's the question. It is the bright day that brings forth the adder, [...] And therefore think him as a serpent's egg Which, hatched, would, as his kind, grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell. (Act II, sc. i, 14-32)

He compares Caesar to a serpent’s egg and how they should stop him before disaster breaks out (Simile). This lead to Brutus to turn on his dear friend, Caesar, for he was the last of the Roman Council to be convinced to betray Caesar. They believe they must kill Caesar, not because he is a tyrant, but because he will become one. Also, they believe killing Caesar was for the greater good of Rome; for the people to be free from Caesar’s rule and to die as free men and not slaves.

Quotes

“He would be crown'd: How that might change his nature, there's the question. It is the bright day that brings forth the adder, [...] And therefore think him as a serpent's egg Which, hatched, would, as his kind, grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell. (Act II, sc. i, 14-32)
Brutus: But 'tis a common proof / That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, / Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; / But when he once attains the utmost round, / He then unto the ladder turns his back. (II, i, 21-25).

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