What is the significance of power and ambition within The Tragedy of Julius Caesar?

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afi80fl | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Power and Ambition are both major themes in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.  After all, one need only read as far as the exposition to discover the grumblings of the social elite against those in power who publicly express political ambition.  In this play, having power is the equivilant of painting a giant target on your forehead and walking onto a shooting range.  Once someone is known for their power, everyone seems to find reasons why they should be separated from that power.  Be it a Cassius who is jealous and unwilling to submit to the authority of one (Caesar) who he feels is weaker and less able to lead than himself, or a Brutus who believes an unequal distribution of power will lead to the downfall of the Roman state, nearly every major character in this play has something to say about those who hold power.

If power is a fatal quality in this play, then ambition must be it's evil cousin.  Ambition is a truly double-edged sword, in that it propels would-be leaders into positions of authority, and eventually leads to their downfall.  If Brutus hadn't developed a sense of ambition in terms of leading the Roman state, then perhaps he wouldn't have had to turn the knife used to slay mighty Caesar upon himself.  Mark Antony and Octavius also fought for power, but more out of a sense of just revenge than Brutus' twisted sense of political balance. 


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kag12234 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

in the play, ambition is the sources of the conspirancy,to Brutus ambition is eager for power and having that power will remove freedom,dignity to all people of rome. Caeser is seen to be having ambition and power. This ambition leads to his assissanation.This can be taken as a patrotic move by the conspiractors because the are liberating rome from a dictator

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