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07_JULIUS CAESAR (DRAMA)_class 10

Summary

  • Julius Caesar is the story of a man’s personal dilemma over moral action, set against a backdrop of strained political drama. Julius Caesar, an able general and a conqueror, returns to Rome amidst immense popularity after defeating the sons of Pompey. The people celebrate his victorious return and he is offered the crown by Mark Antony which he refuses. Jealous of Caesar’s growing power and afraid that he may one day become a dictator, Cassius instigates a conspiracy to murder Caesar. He realises that in order to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the Romans, he must win over the noble Brutus to his side for Brutus is the most trusted and respected man in Rome. Brutus, the idealist, joins the conspiracy feeling everyone is driven by motives as honourable as his own. Ironically, Caesar is murdered at the foot of Pompey’s statue.

The Extract

  • Caesar wanders through his house in his dressing gown, kept awake by his wife Calpurnia’s nightmares. Three times she has called out in her sleep about Caesar’s murder. Calpurnia enters and insists that Caesar not leave the house after so many bad signs. Caesar rebuffs her, refusing to give in to fear. But Calpurnia, who has never heeded omens before, speaks of what happened in the city earlier that night, graves opened and yielded the dead, ghosts wandered the city, a lioness gave birth in the street, and lightning shattered the skies. Warriors, in proper battle formation, fought in the skies and their blood fell on the Capitol. These signs portend true danger and she urges Caesar not to ignore them.
  • Caesar counters that nothing can change the plans of the gods. He deems the signs to apply to the world in general and refuses to believe that they bode ill for him personally. Calpurnia says that the heavens proclaim the death of only great men, so the omens must have to do with him. Caesar replies that while cowards frequently imagine their death, thus dying in their minds several times over, brave men, refusing to dwell on death, die only once. He cannot understand why men fear death, which must come eventually to all.
  • Caesar maintains that he will not stay at home out of fear. Danger cannot affect Caesar, he says. Calpurnia begs himto send Antony to the senate in his place, finally Caesar relents.
  • Decius enters, saying that he has come to bring Caesar to the senate. Caesar tells him to inform the senators that he will be absent that day. Calpurnia tells him to plead illness, but Caesar refuses to lie. Decius then asks what reason he should offer. Caesar states that it is simply his will to stay home. He adds that Calpurnia has had a dream in which she saw his statue run with blood like a fountain, while many smiling Romans bathed their hands in the blood, she has interpreted this to portend danger for Caesar.
  • Decius disputes Calpurnia’s interpretation, saying that actually the dream signifies that Romans will all gain lifeblood from the strength of Caesar. He confides that the senate has decided to give Caesar the crown that day, if Caesar were to stay at home, the senators might change their minds. Moreover, Caesar would lose public regard if he were perceived to be so easily swayed by a woman, or by fear. Caesar replies that her fears seem unfounded. He calls for his robe. Cassius and Brutus enter with other conspirators and Caesar prepares to depart. Antony also joins them as Brutus laments the fact that not everyone in the company present wishes Caesar well.
  • The group enters the senate and Metellus approaches Caesar to request that his brother, PubliusCimber, who has been banished from Rome, be granted permission to return. Caesar answers that since Publiushad been banished by lawful decree, there is no just cause for absolving his guilt. Brutus and Cassius kneel at Caesar’s feet and repeat Metellus’s plea, Caesar answers that he will not change his mind, declaring himself to be as ‘constant as the Northern Star’. Cassius stabs Caesar first, and the others quickly follow, ending with Brutus. Recognizing that Brutus, too, has joined with the conspirators, Caesar speaks his last words:
    “Ettu, Brute?—Then fall Caesar”. He then yields and dies. The conspirators proclaim the triumph of liberty, and many exit in a tumult. Antony enters and sees Caesar’s corpse. He marvels how a man so great in deed and reputation could end as such a small and pathetic body. He tells the conspirators that if they mean to kill him as well, they should do it at once, for there would be no better place to die than beside Caesar. Brutus tells Antony not to beg for death, saying that although their hands appear bloody, their hearts have been, and continue to be, full of pity. Although they must appear to him now as having acted in cruelty, their actual motives stemmed from sympathy and love for the Roman populace. Brutus tells Antony to wait until the conspirators have calmed the multitude, then they will explain fully why they have killed Caesar. Antony says he does not doubt their wisdom and shakes each of their bloody hands.
  • Addressing Caesar’s departed spirit, Antony asks to be pardoned for making peace with the conspirators over his dead body. After Antony praises Caesar’s bravery, Cassius questions his loyalty. Antony assures Cassius that he indeed desires to be numbered among their friends, explaining that he merely forgot himself for a moment upon seeing Caesar’s body. He emphasises that he will gladly ally himself with all of the former conspirators, as long as they can explain to him why Caesar was dangerous.
  • Brutus assures Antony that he will find their explanation satisfactory. Antony asks if he might bring the body to the Forum and deliver a funeral oration. Brutus consents, but Cassius advises him against granting permission. He tells Brutus that Antony will surely move the people against them if he is allowed to speak. Brutus replies that he will speak before Antony does, explaining to the public the reason for the conspirators’ deed, and then explain that Antony has been allowed to speak only by Brutus’s consent. He believes that the people will admire his magnanimity for allowing Antony, a friend of Caesar’s, to take part in the funeral, and that the episode will benefit the conspiracy’s public image.
  • Cassius remains displeased, but Brutus allows Antony to take Caesar’s body, instructing him to speak well of them since they are doing him a favour by permitting him to give the oration.
  • All depart, Antony remains alone onstage. He asks Caesar to pardon him for being gentle with his murderers. Antony prophesies that civil strife will follow Caesar’s death and lead to much destruction. As long as the foul deed of Caesar’s death is not avenged, he predicts, Caesar’s spirit will continue to seek revenge, bringing chaos to Rome.
  • Brutus and Cassius enter the Forum with a crowd of plebeians. Cassius exits to speak to another portion of the crowd. Brutus addresses the crowd, assuring them that they may trust in his honour. He did not kill Caesar out of a lack of love for him, he says, but because his love for Rome outweighed his love of a single man. He insists that Caesar was great but ambitious, it was for this reason that he slew him. He feared that the Romans would live as slaves under Caesar’s leadership. He asks if any disagree with him, and none do. He thus concludes that he has offended no one and asserts that the reason for Caesar’s death has been clarified, with both his virtues and faults in life given due attention.
  • Antony then enters with Caesar’s body. Brutus explains to the crowd that Antony had no part in the conspiracy but that he will now be part of the new commonwealth. The plebeians cheer Brutus’s apparent kindness, declaring that Brutus should be Caesar. He quietens them and asks them to listen to Antony, who has obtained permission to give a funeral oration. Brutus exits.
  • Antony ascends the pulpit while the plebeians discuss what they have heard. They now believe that Caesar was a tyrant and that Brutus did right to kill him. But they wait to hear Antony. He asks the audience to listen, for he has come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. He acknowledges Brutus’s charge that Caesar was ambitious and maintains that Brutus is ‘an honourable man’, but he says that Caesar was his friend. He adds that Caesar brought to Rome many captives, whose countrymen had to pay their ransoms, thus filling Rome’s coffers. He asks rhetorically if such accumulation of money for the people constituted ambition. Antony continues that Caesar sympathised with the poor: “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept”. He reminds the plebeians of the day when he offered the crown to Caesar three times, and Caesar refused three times. Again, he ponders aloud whether this humility constituted ambition. He claims that he is not trying to disprove Brutus’s words but rather to tell them what he, Antony, knows. He insists that as they all loved Caesar once, they should mourn for him now.
  • Antony pauses to weep. The plebeians are touched, they remember when Caesar refused the crown and wonder if more ambitious people have not stepped into his place. Antony speaks again, saying that he would gladly stir them to mutiny and rebellion, though he will not harm Brutus or Cassius, for they are—again—honourable men. He then brings out Caesar’s will. The plebeians beg him to read it. Antony says that he should not, for then they would be touched by Caesar’s love for them. They implore him to read it. He replies that he has been speaking too long—he wrongs the honourable men who have let him address the crowd. The plebeians call the conspirators traitors and demand that Antony read the will.
  • Finally, Antony descends from the pulpit and prepares to read the letter to the people as they stand in a circle around Caesar’s corpse. Looking at the body, Antony points out the wounds that Brutus and Cassius inflicted, reminding the crowd how Caesar loved Brutus, and yet Brutus stabbed him viciously. He tells how Caesar died and blood ran down the steps of the senate. Then he uncovers the body for all to see. The plebeians weep and become enraged. Antony says that they should not be stirred to mutiny against such ‘honourable men’. He protests that he does not intend to steal their hearts, for he is no orator like Brutus. He proclaims himself a plain man, he speaks only what he knows, he says that he will let Caesar’s wounds speak the rest. If he were Brutus, he claims, he could urge them to rebel, but he is merely Antony.
  • The people declare that they will mutiny nonetheless. Antony calls to them to let him finish, he has not yet read the will. He now reads that Caesar has bequeathed a sum ofmoney from his personal holdings to every man in Rome. The citizens are struck by this act of generosity and swear to avenge this selfless man’s death.
  • Antony continues reading the will, revealing Caesar’s plans to make his private parks and gardens available for the people’s pleasure. The plebeians can take no more, they charge off to wreak havoc throughout the city. Antony, alone, wonders what will come of the mischief he has set loose on Rome.

After the Extract:

  • Antony instigates the mob to revenge. He then sits down with Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar’s nephew, coldly calculating how to purge any future threat. Brutus and Cassius fall apart as the idealist in Brutus is outraged by Cassius’ practicality. The armies of Octavius Caesar and Antony clash with those of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi and Sardis. Brutus and Cassius are defeated and both commit suicide.

 

 

Questions & Answers

 

Q.1    What does the upheaval in the sky indicate? How does Calpurnia’s nightmare come true?

Ans.   The upheaval in the sky indicates that something undesirable is going to happen. Thus the murder of Caesar is foreshadowed by the upheaval. Caesar’s murder at the Capitol by some senators proves Calpurnia’s nightmare true.

 

Q.2    Why doesCaesar insist on going out to the Senate? What aspect ofCaesar’s character is revealed by his action?

Ans.   Caesar insists on going out because he has to attend the Senate. Secondly staying at home dueto Calpurnia’s forewarning would indicate that he was cowardly and superstitious. His action reveals that Caesar is a proud, haughty, over-confident and power drunk ruler.

 

Q.3    What does Caesar mean when he says, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once”?

Ans.   Caesar means that cowards ever remain full of fear and it kills them on many occasions in their lifetime. However, the brave being fearless die just once in their life when they depart from this world. Since he is himself a brave man, if death is to visit him in the near future he need not fear it.

 

Q.4    What events or developments foretell the murder of Caesar?

Or

          How was Caesar’s death forwarned?

Ans.   Shakespeare makes frequent use of the supernatural in his plays. In “Julius Caesar” also it is very effectively used to foretell Caesar’s death. Calpurnia in her dream sees Caesar murdered and three times in her sleep she cries out, ‘Help ho, they murder Caesar’. There are evil omens all over. A lioness is seen giving birth to her young ones, graves open wide and ghosts screamand utter shrill cries in the streets.

 

Q.5    Why does Calpurnia say that Caesar’s ‘wisdom is consumed in confidence’?

Ans.   Despite Calpurnia’s arguments that in view of her nightmare and unnatural occurrences witnessed by the watchman, he should not take the risk of going out, Caesar insists upon going to the Senate. She then comments that his overconfidence was overshadowing his wisdom. She then advises him to be practical.

 

Q.6    How does Decius Brutus interpret Calpurnia’s nightmare?

Ans.   Very keen to take Caesar to the Senate house Decius Brutus interprets Calpurnia’s dream to his own advantage. He calls the dream a favourable and a fortunate one. He says that Caesar would give life energy to the Romans and they would flock around him and get relics and mementos from him.

 

Q.7    Why doesDecius Brutus interpret Calpurnia’s dream the way he does?    

Or

          How does Decius Brutus explain Calpurnia’s dream to the conspirators’ advantage?

Ans.   Decius Brutus is keen to take Caesar to the Senate where the conspirators are waiting to assassinate him. Hence he gives a twist to the interpretation of the dream so that Caesar would brush aside Calpurnia’s fears and leave for the Senate.

 

Q.8    Why is Decius more successful in persuading Caesar than Calpurnia?

Ans.   Calpurnia’s arguments could just appeal to Caesar’s emotions but Decius’ arguments were logical and matter-of-fact. Ambitious as Caesar was, the mention of an opportunity to be a king appealed to him and he could not resist the temptation of going to the Capitol.

 

Q.9    Shakespeare makes use of aside in his plays. What is an aside? What is its function in a drama?

Ans.   An aside is a literary device in which the speech, usually an utterable thought, of a character is supposed to be heard by the audience but not by other characters. ‘Asides’ are frequently used in drama to acquaint the audience with certain facts and thoughts that are not to be shared with characters present on the stage.

 

Q.10  What petition did Climber bring to Caesar? Why wasit rejected? What happened immediately after that?

Or

          What is the petition put before Caesar by the conspirators? How does Caesar respond to it?

Ans.   According to the conspirators’ planMetellusCimber approaches Caesar and requests him to cancel the banishment of his brother, PubliusCimber. But Caesar who is too stubborn and arrogant refuses point blank as he considers himself as ‘constant as the northern star’. However, these words prove very ironic as immediately after this, the conspirators attack and assassinate Caesar.

 

Q.11  What reasons did the conspirators give to justify the killing of Caesar?

Or

          What reasons does Brutus give for murdering Caesar?

Ans.   The conspirators, through Brutus, justify Caesar’s assassination on the ground that he was ambitious and wanted to be the Roman Emperor. According to Brutus, Caesar was a tyrant who wanted to treat the Romans as slaves and that Roman liberty and democracy were under threat from Caesar. The conspirators also disliked Caesar’s egoistic behaviour.

 

Q.12  Soon after the murder of Caesar, why does Cassius send some of his fellow conspirators to announce ‘Liberty, freedom and enfranchisement!’ at public places?

Or

          In the moments following Caesar’s death, what do the conspirators proclaim to justify Caesar’s death?

Ans.   Soon after the murder of Caesar, Cassius sends some of his fellow conspirators to announce ‘Liberty, freedom and enfranchise-ment’ at public places to justify Caesar’s murder. This announcement is made to convince the Romans that with his murder democratic rights would be restored to them.

 

Q.13  Seeing the body of Caesar, Antony is overcome by grief. What does he say about Caesar?

Ans.   Overwhelmed with grief, Antony addresses the powerful Caesar and bids him farewell saying that despite all his achievements he had been brought to a lowly position and reduced to a little space on which his body was lying.

 

Q.14  What prediction does Antony make regarding the future events in Rome?

Ans.   Mark Antony curses the conspirators for shedding Caesar’s blood and prophecies over his wounds that there will be civil war in the country. Bloodshed will become order of the day and mothers will only smile to see their babies done to death. Caesar’s spirit and Ate, the goddess of revenge, will avenge Caesar’s killing.

 

Q.15  Antony calls the conspirators butchers, yet he ismeek and gentle towards them. Why?

Ans.   Antony acts very cautiously on finding Caesar assassinated. Being his close friend and associate,Antony fears that the conspirators might try to murder him, too, whereas his survival was necessary to avenge Caesar’s death. Therefore he is meek and gentle with them to please and appease them.

 

Q.16  Give a brief account of the contents of Caesar’s will?

Or

          According to Mark Antony what did Caesar’s will include?

Ans.   Mark Antony highlights Caesar’s love for Romans by giving the details of his will. Caesar had left seventy-five drachmas for each Roman. Moreover he willed all his walks, private gardens and newly planted orchards on the banks of Tiber to the Romans for their pleasure and recreation.

 

Q.17  How does Antony prove to the crowd that Caesar was not ambitious?

Or

          Give two reasons that Antony gives to prove that Caesar was not ambitious?

 Ans.  Antony reminds people that the public treasury was filled with the amount charged for the release of those whom Caesar brought to Rome as captives. He wept in the miseries of the poor. Thrice he refused the crown on the feast of Lupercal. All this proves that he was not ambitious.

 

Q.18  Who says ‘Et tu Brute?’ When are these words spoken? Why?

Ans.   These words were spoken by Caesar when along with the other conspirators, Brutus also stabbed Caesar. Caesar had always had very warm relations with Brutus and had always considered him to be a gentleman of principles. Hence when he also stabbed him, Caesar uttered these words out of shock and disbelief.

 

 

Q.19  Whom does Antony call ‘the choice and master spirits of this age’? Why?

Ans.   Antony calls the assassins of Caesar the choice and master spirits of this age. He uses this expression sarcastically as they have killed the choicest and the most powerful man of Rome. Moreover he uses these words of praise as he wants to give them the impression of his friendly attitude, so that he would get an opportunity to avenge Caesar’s murder.

 

Q.20  How do Brutus and Cassius respond when Antony asks them to kill him with the same sword that they killed Caesar with?

Ans.   Brutus very politely tells Antony not to ask them to kill him. He clarifies they had no intention of killing him and they killed Caesar in order to save democratic spirit. Cassius promises to give Antony an equal say in the governance and asks him if he would support them or be hostile towards them.

 

Q.21 Who says, ‘Let him be Caesar’? What light does this throw on the speaker?       

Or

          What is ironical about one of the commoners sayingaboutBrutus, ‘Let him be Caesar’?

Ans.   These words were uttered by the third citizen after hearing the impressive speech made by Brutus who claimed that he killed Caesar for the good of the Romans. The mob was so impressed by these words that the third citizensaid that Brutus should be given the status of Caesar. The statement brings out the speaker’s ignorance who inadvertently refers to the killing of Brutus by saying, ‘Let him be Caesar’.

 

WORKSHEET

 

  1. Short answer Questions in about 30-40 words:
  2. What commotion is noticed by Calpurnia? What is suggestive of her?
  3. Highlight two most important qualities of Caesar‘s character and substantiate

them from the text.

  1. ‘How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia’? Bring out the irony behind Caesar‘s statement.
  2. What does Caesar mean when he says ‘Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant never taste of death but once?
  3. How does Decius persuade Caesar to go to the senate in spite of Calpurnia‘s best efforts to dissuade him?
  4. Why does Cassius object to Antony‘s speaking to the Roman Mob? How do his fears come true?
  5. Explain why Antony calls Caesar a ‘bleeding piece of earth’?
  6. What were the contents of Caesar‘s will? Why did Antony elaborate upon them?
  7. How does Brutus justify the assassination of Caesar?
  8. How was Antony able to provoke the Roman mob through his speech?
  9. Antony disproves the conspirators‘ claim about Caesar‘s ambition with three

examples. What are they?

 

  1. II) Long Answer Questions in about 100-150 words:

 

  1. Bring out the significance of the words- ‘Et Tu Brute’.
  2. Compare and contrast the funeral orations of Mark Antony and Marcus Brutus.
  3. Write the character sketch of Julius Caesar.
  4. Do you think Brutus is close to being an honourable man? Why?Why not?
  5. Mark Antony emerges as the true friend to Caesar. Comment with reference to the Play.
  6. Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!

Who says the above lines? How does he succeed in instigating the people  of Rome against the conspirators ?

 

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