Using quotations as support, how is Caesar ambitious in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar? 

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act one, scene two, Casca describes the way in which Julius Caesar reluctantly pushed the crown away because of the negative response from the citizens during the parade. However, Casca mentions,

"I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown (yet ’twas not a crown neither, ’twas one of these coronets) and, as I told you, he put it by once—but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him again, then he put it by again—but, to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it" (Shakespeare. 1.2.236-45).

Caesar's reluctance to dismiss the crown reveals his ambitious desire to rule as a dictator.

In act two, scene 2, Calpurnia urges her husband not to visit the Senate because she had an ominous dream about him the night before. However, Decius says that she misinterpreted the dream, which actually meant that noble Romans would drink Caesar's reviving, holy blood for sustenance. After hearing this agreeable response, Caesar tells Decius,

"And this way have you well expounded it" (Shakespeare, 2.2.91).

Caesar's self-confidence and ego are inflated after hearing Decius's interpretation. The fact that Caesar values this positive interpretation reveals his ambitious and egotistical nature. Caesar's arrogance could be interpreted as another character trait associated with his ambition.

Before Caesar is assassinated, he again reveals his ambitious nature in an argument concerning Publius Cimber. Caesar tells Cassius,

"I could be well moved if I were as you. If I could pray to move, prayers would move me. But I am constant as the northern star, Of whose true-fixed and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament" (Shakespeare, 3.1.63-67).

Caesar directly reveals his arrogance and inflated confidence throughout his speech. By comparing himself to fixed celestial bodies, he depicts his narcissism. Caesar's perception of himself enables his ambitious nature and motivates him to attain further power.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three specific incidents which demonstrate the "vaulting ambition" and desire for power in the character Julius Caesar:

1.  In the exposition of the play, Caesar returns to Rome after having defeated Pompey's sons, who at one time was Caesar's friend and ally as they had both been part of a powerful triumvir. Caesar's having eliminated Pompey's son is an indication that he wishes to have no competition in his ambitious drive to power. In Act I, Scene 1, Marullus chides the others, asking them if they now

"strew flowers in his [Caesar's] way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? (1.51-52)

2. In Act I, Scene 2, Casca tells Brutus that as they parade through the streets of Rome, Marc Antony offers Caesar a crown of ornamental bands, and, although Caesar pushes it away, "he would fain have had it."

Then he [Antony] offered it to him again; then he put it by again; but to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. (1.2.243-245)

3. In Act II, Scene 2, Caesar's wife Calpurnia, who has had a portentous nightmare, begs her husband not to attend the Senate for fear that he be harmed. Although Caesar finally acquiesces to his wife's wishes, Decius, who is one of the conspirators, arrives and appeals to Caesar's vanity by convincing him that Calpurnia's interpretation of the dream is incorrect; it means instead that Caesar is the lifeblood of Rome. Decius also informs Caesar that the Senate wishes to bestow a crown to Caesar this day; however, if he does not appear, they may well whisper, "Lo Caesar is afraid?" (2.2.101). Decius's appeal to Caesar's vanity and ego convinces him that he must attend the Senate. So, Caesar tells Calpurnia that he will attend,

How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia!
I am ashamed I did yield to them
Give me my robe, for I will go. (2.2.105-107)

marzenadziura | Student
He was my friend, faithful and just to me.
But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honourable man.
. . .
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept.
. . .
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honourable man.
. . .
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And sure he is an honourable man. (III.ii.82–96)
I could be well moved if I were as you.
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the Northern Star,
Of whose true fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks;
They are all fire, and every one doth shine;
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place. (III.i.58–65)
Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

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