In the rising action of Act II, describe how Shakespeare creates and builds suspense during Scenes 3 and 4. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Suspense is created and built in Act II, Scenes 3 and 4 as Shakespeare employs the interplay of choice and fate, a motif that prevails throughout his tragedy, Julius Caesar. In Scene 3, Artemidorus, a teacher and, interestingly, a friend of both Caesar and the conspirators, has learned of the assassination plot and has written a letter to Caesar, advising him of this design against him.  When Caesar passes him on this day, the Ides of March, Artemidorus plans to hand him this letter as a suitor looking for a political favor, a regular action for the occasion.  As he waits on Caesar, Artemidorus suggests with his words the interplay of choice and fate:

If thou read this, O Caesar, thou mayst live;

If not, the Fates with traitors do contrive (2.3.14-15)

Then, in Scene 4, the anxious Portia, whom Brutus must have finally acquiesced in telling her what has caused him to be in their orchard in the night, sends her servant Lucius to the capitol with instructions to report everything he observes about Brutus. Here, however, there is also some comic relief injected as poor Lucius is unclear about what he is to do,

Madam, what should I do?

Run to the Capitol and nothing else?

And so return to you, and nothing else? (2.4.11-13)

When Portia espies the soothsayer, she rushes to him and inquires if he has any knowledge of harm inteded for Caesar.  To this, the soothsayer answers,

None that I know will be, much that I fear may chance.
Good morrow to you. Here the street is narrow,
The throng that follows Caesar at the heels,
Of senators, of praetors, common suitors,
Will crowd a feeble man almost to death.
I'll get me to a place more void and there
Speak to great Caesar as he comes along. (2.4.36-42)

Thus, the reader/audience wonders if the letter from Artemidorus and the warning from the soothsayer will reach Caesar, and if so, what affect either of these warnings will have upon him if he does receive them.

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