Thesis Statment

A tragedy Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare shows the reader the threat that can bring to power and betrayal through the use of literary elements such as foreshadowing and rhetorical devices.

Power of Power?

Brutus decides to murder his friend, Caesar, because he is afraid that he is to become corrupt. Brutus believes that when Caesar is headed for absolute power, he becomes a threat to the traditional ideals and values of the Roman Republic. However, Caesar hasn’t shown any evidence that he is headed to a direction of absolute power. When Caesar says “En tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar” as he is painfully and slowly dying, Caesar is shocked by Brutus’s betrayal which directly translates “and you too, Brutus?”. Note that Brutus is only killing Caesar just in case he becomes corrupt. As a result of Caesar’s death, it leads to a civil war. Antony cleverly convinces the conspirators of his desire to side with them: “Let each man render me with his bloody hand” (III.i.185). However, under the guise of their friendship, Anthony decides to revenge on the conspirators. Brutus speaks to the people of the Rome and justifies the killing of Caesar. Antony likewise wins the crowd’s favor, using persuasive rhetoric.

As Shakespeare dramatizes the historical circumstances of Caesar’s assassination, he asks series of rhetorical questions that are relevant to his sixteenth century audience – How should a state be governed? What makes a good leader?

Literary Devices

Foreshadowing & Rhetoric Devices
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Shakespeare uses many different literary devices to further explain the theme of Julius Caesar. For example, he uses foreshadowing to indicate Caesar’s assassination when the Soothsayer states "Beware the ides of March." (Act I, Scene II, line 23). A soothsayer warns Caesar about his assassination, however Caesar brushes off the soothsayer’s words and does not worry about it. Because of his ego, he is unable to realize the warning when it is given to him all of a sudden.

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Rhetoric Device- Rhetorical Question

In Brutus’s speech after the assassination of Caesar, he asks series of rhetorical questions such as “Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men” (Act III, Scene II, line 24-26). Brutus uses this question to persuade the Plebeians that he only killed Caesar to save the Roman Republic and do good for all. He justifies the killing of Caesar by informing the people of the Rome that they would be free from Caesar’s tyrannical rule.