How does Shakespeare portray Calphurnia and Portia in the political play Julius Caesar?Identity of Portia and Calphurnia Who is stronger? Their role in this male-dominated play  

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, both Calpurnia and Portia are loving wives. Both adore their husbands. Both women beg their husbands on bended knee to honor their wishes. Calpurnia begs Caesar to stay at home. She is troubled by her dream. She has dreamed that Caesar's statute is spurting blood. She fears for his life. She is very sensitive and caring. She does everything in her power to keep him home:

When Calphurnia gets on her knee to Caesar, she temporarily succeeds in persuading him to remain at home. She offers to let Caesar use her anxiety as an excuse for not going to the Capitol.

Portia begs Brutus to share his heart. She desires to know what is troubling him. She asks him to confide in her. She is worried about him. She too is very sensitive to the issues that trouble Brutus:

Portia, Brutus's wife, displays her concern for her husband and asks that he share with her his burdens. She wishes to know the source of his abrupt mood changes and why Cassius and the others have visited him, claiming that sharing such confidences with her husband is the "right and virtue'' (II.i.269) of a wife. 

Calpurnia has more influence with Caesar because he initially gives in to her pleading for him to stay home for the day. At first, he decides to stay at home for her sake. Of course, Decius flatters him and changes his mind.  

Brutus will not share his heart with Portia. She pleads but to no avail. Of course, Brutus is worried that Portia will be in danger if he shares what he and the conspirators are about to do. No doubt, Brutus truly loves Portia. Likewise, Caesar adores his wife Calpurnia. 

Calpurnia seems to be a stronger woman than Portia. Portia kills herself after she realizes her husband is fleeing for his very life. Calpurnia endures Caesar's death. Shakespeare does not indicate that she even thinks about taking her own life.


Truly, Calpurnia and Portia are very much alike but also different. Both women love their husbands immensely. Both women plead with their husbands. Both women are in fear for their husbands' lives.

In the end, Calpurnia proves to be stronger than Portia. Portia cannot live with the stress that Brutus has caused her. She takes her own life.  

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Julius Caesar

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