What is the point of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"?In other words, what do you think Shakespeare intended his audience to gain from watching/reading this play?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his funeral oration, Marc Antony tells the Romans, "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff" (Act III,ii,93).  Ironically, Antony becomes much more brutally ambitious than Caesar, whom he professes to love. His ambition is "stern stuff," but the triumvirate of Lepidus, Octavius, and Antony--who cruelly makes a list of his political enemies--tears Rome in civil strife. Tragically for Brutus, also, the ambitions of the conspirators, especially Cassius and Casca supercede that of Caesar as well, and they persuade him to be part of the assassination. While Brutus kills Caesar because he "loved Rome more," the others have ambition as their goal.  Unfortunately, the ambitious desires of the men leads to their deaths and civil war, the worst kind of war from the point of view of Shakespeare and many others.

Another theme, or point, to "Julius Caesar" is the "foul deed" of regicide.  The act of killing a king is one that causes civil disorder and undermines the natural order.  Shakespeare's audiences would have easily discerned this lesson as their country was run by a monarch, a monarch whom Shakespeare often had in his audience, in fact. Of course, the idea of the natural order is still in the consciousness of people today.

Finally, another lesson to be learned from 'Julius Caesar" is that one leader is not as tyrannical or evil as contemporaries often perceive.  At least, the next leader may be worse, especially if the society is thrown out of order.  To quote Marc Antony again,

The evil that men do lives after them,/The good is oft interred with their bones (III,ii,76-77) 

Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question