Compare and contrast Calpurnia and Portia in Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare.
Calpurnia, Julius Caesar’s wife, loves her husband. When she is first mentioned in Act I, Scene ii, Caesar wants Antony to touch her in his race of the Feast of fertility. Caesar wants an heir by his wife who has no children.
The next time Calpurnia is seen comes in Act II, scene ii. She has a terrible dream. Her dream seems so real that she begs Caesar not to go to the Capitol. The dreams describes Caesar’s statue with a hundred holes which had pure blood coming from them. There were Romans smiling and bathing their hands in the blood. Actually, Caesar is stabbed thirty three times; and, the conspirators do bathe their hands in Caesar’s blood.
Calpurnia begs Caesar not to go to the Capitol. She fears that the dream will come true. After listening to her, Caesar agrees to stay at home. Unfortunately, Decius Brutus comes to make sure that Caesar does go to the Senate. He reinterprets her dream and makes it into a positive. Calpurnia’s wishes are swept aside.
Portia, Brutus’s wife, shows frustration. She knows that something is going on with Brutus. He has not been sleeping and does not communicate with her. She believes that if they are husband and wife, there should be no secrets. If not, then she is no better than a whore.
When Brutus refuses to confide in Portia, she takes issue with his secrecy. She further points out that her father was a great man; her husband is a great man; then, why will Brutus not trust her?
I grant I am a woman; but withal
A woman well-reputed, Cato's daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd and so husbanded?
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose 'em…
To prove her loyalty and strength, Portia stabs herself in the thigh. Brutus is impressed and promises to share his dilemma with her. He is not able to tell her about his joining the conspiracy because the conspirators show up to see if Brutus will join them. Immediately, they leave to go to Caesar’s house to ensure that he will go to the Senate.
Portia seems to know more than she tells Brutus. She sends the servant to the senate to spy on Brutus and return to tell her what is happening. Portia is mentioned later when she commits suicide by swallowing hot coals.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial