Comment on the absence of women in Act iii Scene ii of julius Caesar

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this scene, Brutus and Cassius are in the Roman Forum with a crowd of common people. Brutus tries to convince the crowd that he killed Caesar because he loved Rome more than he did Caesar. He tells the people he did it for them because Caesar would have made them slaves. Then Mark Antony enters the Forum with Caesar's body and gives his terrific speech that totally turns things around. At the end of Antony's speech, the crowd is ready to drive Brutus and Cassius out of Rome.

There are no women in this scene. I believe there are two reasons. First, women were not expected to be out in public, in the Forum, especially when plebians were about. They really could not take part in the governmental affairs of men (although during some parts of the Republic, they were allowed to vote). The scene with both Antony and Brutus speaking, however, would not have been appropriate for women. Secondly, Caesar's body is brought into the Forum. It is all bloodied and his wounds are visible. This could have been another reason for keeping women away. Too gory. They might have swooned.

That said, Roman women probably had more rights than Elizabethan women. Even though the British had a woman for a queen at this time, the roles of women were very limited in Elizabethan society and they were not allowed to participate in affairs of government. There were no women in the Parliament at the time. So the lack of women in this scene could have been more about the sensibilities of the Elizabethan audience than to Roman history.

What do you think? Read about the play here on enotes.

Perhaps some editors will have other ideas on this issue.

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Julius Caesar

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