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Does Shakespeare present Caesar as an evil tyrant or as a flawed ruler who does not...

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loramyers | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:14 PM via web

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Does Shakespeare present Caesar as an evil tyrant or as a flawed ruler who does not deserve the conspiracy against him?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 3:31 PM (Answer #2)

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Caesar, in Shakespeare's play named after him, is certainly revealed to have flaws--he's superstitious and vulnerable to flattery and a bit arrogant, and he also makes a bad decision or two--but whether or not he is evil, or even what the level of ambition he possesses is, is not revealed. 

Readers, as well as the conspirators, do not know what kind of a ruler Caesar would have been.  He's killed before the plot reaches that point.  He may have become a tyrant, but we'll never know. 

So Caesar certainly isn't presented as an evil tyrant, since he never gains power.  What's important in the play, is that the conspirators don't know, either--but they still assassinate him. 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 10, 2010 at 1:27 PM (Answer #3)

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I agree with dstuva on this one. One of the key aspects of the play is that the conspirators kill Caesar not based on what he is, but on what he might be. This is why Brutus seems to have to persuade himself of the potential future danger of a Caesar who is crowned if nothing is done. This aspect of the play suggests that the assassination is more about the ambition and envy of the conspirators rather than a genuine love of Rome and fear of the terrors a tyrannical Caesar might unleash, however much they protest otherwise. Therefore it is hard to answer your question - we don't really know enough of Caesar to say he is either completely, though he does show potential to be both.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 10, 2010 at 5:28 PM (Answer #4)

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Shakespeare viewed Caesar as an evil buffoon from the fact that Shakespeare probably had personal feelings of the Romans invading England at the time and generally not doing great things for the English people. Shakespeare wanted to maintain this personal dislike of Caesar by portraying him as a buffoon and one who never makes the right decisions about anything.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 11, 2010 at 7:00 PM (Answer #5)

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Shakespeare viewed Caesar as an evil buffoon from the fact that Shakespeare probably had personal feelings of the Romans invading England at the time and generally not doing great things for the English people. Shakespeare wanted to maintain this personal dislike of Caesar by portraying him as a buffoon and one who never makes the right decisions about anything.

This is a cogent point, indeed, as the other leaders, Antony, Brutus, Cassius, and Octavius Caesar waiver and make poor decisions, as well.  Antony, of course, encourages the "civil strife" which is worse that rule under Caesar; the others are inconsistent in their moods and beliefs.  At first, for instance, Cassius scoffs at Brutus for thinking that he destined not to rule.  Yet, later in Act IV it is Cassius who is so superstitious that he brings about his own demise.  Brutus, who is so easily persuaded by his brother-in-law Cassius to assassinate Caesar, then will not listen to his good advice on the battlefied. 

If Shakespeare disdained Romans, then, this chaos makes sense and dispensing with Caesar as a "buffoon" just furthers it.

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i-am-urmi | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 25, 2010 at 2:47 AM (Answer #6)

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I agree with the previous posts and add one more point:

Julius Caesar was an arrogant man and tended to do what he thought was right, which indicates that he might turn out as a tyrant after all. His is superstitious and told Antony to touch his wife during the race, yet moments later, he ignores the soothsayer and labels him as a "dreamer". His stubbornness in going to the meeting the day he was murdered also highlights this point.

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