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How do I plan and outline an essay that answers "Discuss how Shakespeare explores the...

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kharsa | Student | Salutatorian

Posted May 20, 2012 at 1:16 PM via web

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How do I plan and outline an essay that answers "Discuss how Shakespeare explores the theme of honor in the play Julius Caesar," with the following?

Five Paragraph Essay

1: Introduction

2: Thesis Statment

3:  Supporting Arguments 

4: textual proofs

5: Conclusion

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:04 AM (Answer #1)

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The first thing to do in order to compose an outline is to brainstorm on your topic to arrive at a thesis. Asking yourself What about it? (the theme of honor) will help you arrive at some opinions that you can organize into a thesis statement. Consider these ideas:

  • Because the tragic elements of Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar originate in the hearts of both Caesar and Brutus who subjugate their personal feelings and loyalties to what they perceive as honorable actions, you will want to formulate a thesis that is a statement of how Caesar and Brutus meet their tragic downfalls as a result of their misperceptions of the role that honor plays in their lives. 
  • Certainly, a confusion of the private self with the public self is at the center of Caesar's and Brutus's mistakes in judgment and their consequent deaths. Julius Caesar,who feels himself a "Colossus" as Cassius says, revels in his power after his defeat of Pompey and desires the crown offered him, believing that because the crowd proffers it, acceptance is the honorable action on his part.
  • Likewise, Brutus makes several fatal errors because of his strong belief in honor. First, he feels that for the sake of Rome, it is the honorable thing for him to join in the assassination conspiracy. Secondly, because of his honorable commitment to the people of Rome, Brutus refuses to confide his fears in Portia, who may have been able to reason with him.  Instead, his ignores his loyalties to his wife and to Caesar and acts with what Aristotle terms hamartia, an act of injustice committed because of his misperceptions. Because of Brutus's thinking that is clouded by his adherence to his noble principles (honor), he has difficulty making clear judgments.  He fails to listen to Cassius in Act IV when he tells Brutus,

Good reasons must of force give place to better.
The people 'twixt Philippi and this ground
Do stand but in a forced affection,
For they have grudged us contribution.
The enemy, marching along by them,
By them shall make a fuller number up,
Come on refresh'd, new-added, and encouraged;
From which advantage shall we cut him off
If at Philippi we do face him there,
These people at our back. (4.3.228-237)

  • Instead, Brutus commits fatal errors by having his army advance believing that "[T]here is a tide in the affairs of men" and he must not neglect this "tide." When he is faced with defeat, Brutus does what Romans considered more "honorable" and kills himself rather than be taken prisoner.

Once you have decided upon a thesis statement, you are ready to organize your essay.

Introduction

Perhaps you may want to pull a quotation from the play that  relates to Caesar's and Brutus's tragic valuing of honor over personal loyalties, such as

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (1.2.145-146)

that underscores how Caesar and Brutus undo themselves in their devotion to honor and their public selves. 

Thesis statement

Formulate your thesis on the role that honor plays in Caesar's and Brutus's lives. In the actual essay, you will attach 3 opinions of why or how honor supercedes individual loyalties to the general statement of the thesis.

Supporting arguments

These are the 3 opinions of the thesis. Find instances in which adherence to points of honor is detrimental to Caesar and Brutus.

Textual proof

(One has been given you with 4.3. Find others)

Conclusion

Tying together your proofs, restate your thesis.

Sources:

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