What is the role of women in Julius Caesar?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both women in the play, Calpurnia (Caesar's wife) and Portia (Brutus' wife) help to move the plot along.  Calpurnia does this with her dream and her begging Caesar to stay at home instead of going to the Senate.  She helps to bring forth the theme of superstition and the paranormal--seeing the future in dreams.

Portia represents a much stronger woman in my eyes.  She tells Brutus that she is not just a woman, but his partner in all he does.  She recognizes that he is troubled and begs him to share the trouble with her so that she could help him overcome it.  She obviously loves Brutus, and she proves that she can take the seriousness of his man's problem by stabbing herself with a dagger in her thigh.  Some critics draw attention to the blood she spills on herself as a dangerous and evil omen of what the future holds for her and her husband.  Brutus dies by his own sword, and Portia swallows hot coals to bring on her death.

The women act as foils to their husbands, bringing out certain characteristics in the men for the audience that perhaps other characters would not be able to illiminate.

They are the confidants and support system for their husbands. But notice that the only two women mentioned in the entire play are the spouses of the two most important characters.  Undoubtedly other women were involved historically, but Shakespeare only includes these two in order to reveal things about their husbands and to develop theme/plot.

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Julius Caesar

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