Why does Shakespeare use thunder and lightning with his setting? Is he trying to suggest cosmic disorder? Explain.

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katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Shakespeare uses thunder and lightening to not only to complement his theme of fate vs. free will as well as to enhance the mood of the play.  Most of the storming occurs while Cassius is convincing Brutus to kill Caesar, and while Brutus is deciding whether or not to help.  It is a simple, but effective way, to heighten the frightening and conspiratorial atmosphere.

In addition, the way Shakespeare's characters react to the storming is important.  Casca is frightened of it and Cicero says no one should be outside in it--common reactions, especially in a time when people thought storms were the cause of the gods.  The only reason the gods would send a storm is if they were angry with something that was happening on earth.  Cassius, on the other hand, is defiant of the storm--in fact, he tempts the lightening to strike him if the storm is in reference to him.  This is Cassius's first misinterpretation--or unwillingness to interpret--of omens sent to warn him against his actions.  He is unable to correctly interpret omens until Act Five.

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