How is the role of women a motif in Julius Caesar?
The role of women is something that occurs more than once like when Brutus would not tell Portia why he is in a bad mood the early morning of March 15th. (II, i, 298-304)
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The women of Julius Caesar serve primarily as powerless supporters of and wise advisers to their husbands. In Act II, Scene 1, Brutus's wife Portia longs to soothe her anxious husband, but she cannot get him to be forthright with her. Similarly, in Act II, Scene 2, Calpurnia desperately tries to warn Caesar of imminent danger and cites the previous night's storm and her dream all to no avail. The women want what is best for their husbands, but they are powerless in keeping their husbands safe. In each situation, just as the women have almost convinced their husbands to listen to them, a male character enters the scene and reduces the women to inferior positions.
Shakespeare also characterizes the women as offering wise advice to their husbands based on their intuition. Portia has observed her husband and the activities in their household and knows that Brutus is troubled. She advises Brutus to consider the changes in his behavior and even gets him to ponder how he got such a noble wife. Portia certainly has the intelligence to advise her husband well, but he does not give her an opportunity to do so. Calpurnia, too, realizes that all signs point to a tragic end for Caesar, but none of her means of persuasion prevent Caesar from following Decius's advice over hers. Like Portia who stabs herself in order to prove her loyalty to Brutus, Calpurnia offers to be Caesar's excuse for his not going to the Senate; she doesn't care if she's blamed for upsetting the Senate's plans for the day. Unfortunately, both men ignore their wives' concern and willingness to sacrifice for them.
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