What are the effects of supernatural elements in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?
The supernatural elements create a mood of excitement and suspense, and foreshadow future events.
There are several examples of supernatural events in the play. The first occurs early on, in the second scene, when Caesar is warned. The warning nature of the supernatural continues, as the conspirators fear bad omens. These supernatural events both cause suspense and foreshadow drama to come.
Caesar pays no attention to the soothsayer, but his prediction lets us know that Caesar is in danger. It foreshadows Caesar’s assassination, because it lets us know that on the Ides of March something terrible will happen. It sets an ominous tone. This tells us that all is not well in Rome.
Another example of the supernatural is found in the descriptions some of the conspirators give of weird events that have been happening. They clearly are fearing what they are about to do, and wonder if these are bad omens.
Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,
I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
To be exalted with the threatening clouds … (Act 1, Scene 3)
These descriptions tell us what kind of men we are dealing with. They believe in and fear the supernatural. They fear bad omens. They perhaps feel guilty about what they are planning. It creates an ominous atmosphere.
There are more supernatural events referenced in Calpurnia’s dreams. She too fears for Caesar. Later, Cassius bemoans the signs he has seen and worries that he will die on his birthday. Clearly, the supernatural fears influence his decision to kill himself.