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Please explain Calpurnia's dream in Act II, Sc.2 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

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shweta15 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 5, 2009 at 5:20 PM via web

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Please explain Calpurnia's dream in Act II, Sc.2 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 5, 2009 at 10:24 PM (Answer #1)

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Calpurnia, Caesar's wife appears only once in the play in Act II Sc.2. She is presented as a very troubled and anxious lady deeply concerned about the safety of her husband. She pleads with Caesar not to go to the Senate because there have been reports of very bizarre happenings in Rome and she herself has had  a terrible dream. Just then Decius arrives to accompany him to the Senate, and Caesar narrates to him Calpurnia's dream and tells him that he won't be coming to the senate:

"Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home;
She dreamt tonight she saw my statue,
Which like a fountain with an hundred spouts,
Did run pure blood, and many lusty Romans
Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it.
And these does she apply for warnings and portents
And evils imminent, and on her knee 
Hath begg'd that I will stay at home today."

Calpurnia foresaw in her dream the assasination of Julius Caesar. She saw in her dream the statue of Julius Caesar being transformed into a fountain from which spouted not water, but blood and the Roman citizens smilingly washing their hands in his blood.

Inspite of Calpurnia's brief appearance, her role and character are important because:

1. To contrast the private, domestic life of Caesar with his public political life: Caesar makes his first appearance on the stage in a "nightdress" and the very first lines that Caesar utters refer to his wife, "Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out/'Help ho! they murder Caesar." From the beginning of the play till now all that we have heard about Caesar relates to his warrior like and statesman like qualities. But, Shakespeare foregrounds his first appearance on the stage by presenting him as a worried and anxious husband who is ready to please her initially by agreeing not to go to the Senate,"and for thy humour I will stay at home."

2.To contrast fate and human will: Calpurnia's  intuitive fears,"O Caesar these things are beyond all use/And I do fear them,"  are contrasted with Caesar's self confidence, "It seems to me  most strange that men should fear/Seeing that death a necessary end/Will come when it will come."

3. Calpurnia's  interpretation of her dream is brushed aside and Decius' interpretaion is accepted by Caesar to emphasise the significance of the public and the political over the private and the domestic, "How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia."

4. Calpurnia represents the fear and the superstitious beliefs of the  contemporary Elizabethan audience concerning the supernatural.

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 24, 2013 at 11:12 PM (Answer #4)

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Caesar is surrounded by men who are behaving in the most friendly fashion, but Calpurnia's woman's intuition must have made her sense subconsciously that there was something not quite right about their friendliness. She must have picked up subtle exchanges of glances between some of the many visitors. She should have known, of course, that Caesar was not universally beloved, that he had many enemies, and that he had offended many important people. The very fact that everything seemed to be going so smoothly may have warned her subconsciously and intuitively that there was grave danger.

Dreams have a way of telling us truths of which we are not consciously aware. Calpurnia's dream was a prophetic one. Shakespeare based this part of the scene on Plutarch's Life of Julius Caesar, and evidently Caesar's wife actually did have more than one prophetic dream in which she foresaw her husband's assassination. Caesar himself was apprehensive about going to the Capitol that day, but his ambition overruled his own good judgment, his wife's bad dreams, the warnings of the soothsayer who had told him to beware the Ides of March, the findings of the augurers, and all the bizarre phenomena on the streets and in the sky, of which Calpurnia tells him:

When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

Sources:

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michaelthenew | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted July 10, 2013 at 6:50 AM (Answer #5)

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Calpurina's dreamed that julius caesar statue at the capitol, was bleeding blood and his body was full of staps. This dream is counted as one of the major superstiton which didn't had a great effect in the play. As caesar didn't actually bothered himself and ignored it, as he ignored the loving and caring of his wife, chosing his pride and reptiton between the romans, and his lust for the throne.

The dream explanation in details

Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home;
She dreamt tonight she saw my statue,
Which like a fountain with an hundred spouts,
Did run pure blood, and many lusty Romans
Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it.
And these does she apply for warnings and portents
And evils imminent, and on her knee 
Hath begg'd that I will stay at home today."

a fountain with an hundred spouts, the 'fountain' is an exggaration in which shakespear had used to describe that the blood which was coming out from caesar's statue was alot and was flowing smoothly.

Shakespear didn't just added a dream to the play irrationally, but it was for a many numerous reasons.the first was to unveil calpurina's love to her husband and shows that she really loved him, secondly, to show how caesar ambitions conquered his mind and heart, unallowing him to feel, like a straight tough rock without any expressions.

One another important point, was to show that caesar actually cared about his life,to show that caesar was so stubborn,lusty,arrogant and only cared for himself.

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Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 28, 2014 at 3:57 PM (Answer #6)

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Calpurnia dreamed that Caesar’s statue had blood pouring from it. It drizzled blood on the capitol. This is definitely a foreshadowing for his assassination in the Capitol.

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corandan | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 3, 2011 at 10:27 PM (Answer #3)

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she dreams that the statue of cesar is broken and it is spilling blood so that interprets that he is going to die

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