What makes the scene of Caesar’s assassination highly dramatic in Julius Caesar?   

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shakespeareguru eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love this question.  You are really investigating the action of the play that accompanies the text -- an investigation that is crucial to fully appreciating a work written to be performed by actors rather than simply read.

This scene, which happens in Act III, scene i, is dramatic on a couple of levels.  First, I would say that much of the drama comes from the violent act happening onstage.  Shakespeare's audience loved blood and gore just as much as the audiences of today do (or from any time), and Shakespeare was all about creating entertaining spectacle for his audiences.  And not only is it a murder enacted onstage, but it is a murder in which no less than seven men attack and stab Caesar.  Gruesome!

The scene is also very dramatic because Shakespeare really limits the lines that are spoken, leaving the actors (and director) to create a scene of physical interaction that keeps the focus on what the actors are doing, not what they are saying.  The only lines that are directly related to the murder are the one that begins it and the one that ends it:


Speak, hands, for me!

[Casca first, then the other Conspirators, ending with Marcus Brutus, stab Caesar]


Et tu, Brute?  Then fall, Caesar.

When I go into classrooms to share some of the theatrical aspects of working with Shakespeare with English students, I often have them stage this scene.  What's most interesting is having them slow down and take the time to really think about what specifically happens, and in what order.  It also provides them an opportunity to consider how suspense is created onstage.

Some of the questions a reader might ask himself about this scene are:

  • Does one of the Conspirators wait to act until a certain other one (say Brutus or Cassius) does?
  • Does one of the Conspirators try to chicken out and leave?
  • How many times does each Conspirator stab Caesar (He is reported to have been stabbed 23 times by 7 men.)?
  • Do any of the Conspirators have to be pulled off of Caesar because they have given way to a murdering frenzy?

These sorts of questions don't have one right or wrong answer, but give someone who is simply reading the play a real sense of how much of the action (even the action of a crucial event like the murder of Caesar) is determined by those who will perform it.  The action of this scene is rendered, potentially, even more dramatic than some, because Shakespeare really limits the words that are spoken, allowing the actors and the audience to focus on what the characters are doing.




swazzie95 | Student

Caesar's assassination is dramatized by the fact that even, Brutus, who he considers a loyal friend, stabs him.

"Et tu, Brute? - Then fall Caesar."


i-am-urmi | Student

The assassination of Julius Caesar is a highly dramatic scene.

The famous cry ‘Et tu, Brute’ signifies Caesar’s astonishment that his dear friend Brutus was himself involved in the conspiracy against him - a lot of drama there. Later, Plutarch also told of how Caesar had given up the fight to save his life when he recognized Brutus as one of the conspirators.

So it is seen that this scene not only shows the murder of Julius Caesar, which was afterall, one of the main topics since the beginning of the play, but also the friendship between Caesar and Brutus, highlighted as never before in the play.


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Julius Caesar

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