What are the main political problems that Shakespeare examines in Julius Caesar?I am supposed to write an essay on this. This is not to cheat, but I think it is very difficult and wondered if...

What are the main political problems that Shakespeare examines in Julius Caesar?

I am supposed to write an essay on this. This is not to cheat, but I think it is very difficult and wondered if anyone has an idea where to start and how to form the essay. This is supposed to be a 2500 word paper.

Asked on by bjorngsm

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his play Julius Caesar, Shakespeare does not delve into many of the historical issues regarding the celebrated leader of Rome.  Rather, it seems that Shakespeare is concerned with the dilemma that abuse of power presents.  That is, whether the slaying of a ruler is justifiable as a means of preventing or eliminating tyranny.

As the play develops, it seems that the idealistic Brutus, who "loves Rome more," is unsuccessful in arresting tyranny with his and the other conspirators' slaying of Caesar.  For, Marc Antony is his desire for avenging his friend's death incites the Romans to civil war, a far worse consequence.  Then, Antony becomes corrupted by his power with Lucius and Octavius; he trades the life of his nephew for Lepidus's brother as he has drawn up a list of Romans to be eliminated for political reasons.  Brutus becomes unstable and Cassius superstitious; in short, all the noble Romans lose much of themselves in the war that ensues after Caesar's death.  Thus, it seems that Shakespeare, an Elizabethan who believes in the Chain of Being, does not view the slaying of a king or emperor as an act that is often justified.

In your approach to the essay, you may wish to research the history of Julius Caesar just to give you some perspective.  But, in your analysis stay within the perimeters of the play.  Peruse again key scenes, and take advantage of the summaries and character analyses here on enotes.  Good luck!

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