Discuss scene with the ghost. How would you perform the ghost scene from a modern audience? What effect would it have had in Elizabethean times?JULIUS CAESAR - ACT 4, Scene 3

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare did not have the technical facilities that exist in modern Hollywood. The film studio technicians could make Caesar appear very ghostly indeed. He could be transparent and suspended in the air--or anything else they could imagine a ghost being or doing. But Shakespeare could only show an actor on the stage and the audience would have to recognize him as a ghost because they had seen him killed. This was a way for Shakespeare to get more exposure out of one of the important actors in his company. Both Banquo and Caesar can reappear after they are dead and the audience will perceive them as ghosts because both characters have been savagely slaughtered in plain sight. (This is not the case with Hamlet's father's ghost. Shakespeare has to go to a lot of trouble to identify the bearded actor in armor as a ghost because the audience has never seen him killed. The witnesses, including Horatio, all testify that this actor looks exactly like the dead king and is wearing the dead king's armor.) The effect of Caesar's ghost on Shakespeare's audience would have been to fascinate them and silence them. They would not have panicked because, after all, they would know this is a play. But it should have a solemn effect throughout the theater. A modern Hollywood horror story can create a lot more fear in an audience than Shakespeare's ghosts ever did. Shakespeare's ghost are not threatening the audience, only other characters in the play. Caesar's ghost is threatening Brutus and Banquo's ghost is threatening Macbeth. Shakespeare apparently liked ghosts because they made interesting characters and also because he got more work out of the actors for the same amount of pay. Shakespeare was a playwright, an actor, a director, a producer, and part owner of the theater. He must have been concerned about budgetary matters along with artistic ones. He undoubtedly used some players in more than one role. For example, he probably used the same young female impersonator to play Brutus's wife and Caesar's wife, wearing different gowns and different wigs. 

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I were staging the scene between Brutus and Caesar's ghost, I would use the technique Shakeseare used in Macbeth when Macbeth sees the dagger floating in the air. There is no stage prop dagger in front of Macbeth; the audience does not see any dagger at all, except in their imaginations as Macbeth describes it. Imagination can be a powerful force, and the dagger seems very real as Macbeth watches it turn bloody in front of his eyes.

In the scene between Brutus and the ghost, we don't have to see any ghostly presence for the scene to be effective. A good actor playing Brutus could make the ghost seem real indeed as he reacted to it with horror. The voice of the ghost could come from a recording device planted on the stage. 

Shakespeare's audience believed in the supernatural. A modern audience might not believe that Caesar's ghost was real, but modern audiences still love supernatural stories. A reading of modern movie titles proves this to be true. 

neha15 | Student

hey even i need the answer to a similar question.

btw...The role of ghost in the play is specially letting us know the fate of brutus and that justice will be served. The message is very clear that Brutus, deep inside, knows that he has wronged Ceasar.

disney123 | Student

thanks guys this is really helpful


another point to make is that, while staging the scene we could like dress up as a ghost and make Brutus appear freaked out...like a clone of Caesar....only it's a vision, like the feast in Macbeth.

i agree with the macbeth scenes. the audience supposedly doesn't see any ghost accept Macbeth, or in this case Caesar

disney123 | Student

you have the same name as i


and in reference to the ghost 

in Elizabethean times they would have been really really freaked out and it would represent an omen

these days in theatre just put over your head a white cloth and act the ghost scene...but people aren't going to be scared....it'll have more of a humorous effect

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Julius Caesar

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