In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, what are some of the conflicts found in the drama?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a question that covers almost the entire play.  In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, each act gives an example of some kind of conflict.   Conflicts move the story forward and usually tag the protagonist.

There are several kinds of conflicts:

Act I, Scene I---Man versus man

The tribunes oppose the workmen wasting a day celebrating the assassins.   The theory is that Pompey was a popular figure before his death.  Now, the Roman citizens welcome the assassin of the great Pompey with open arms.

Act II, Scene i-Man versus himself

Brutus had approximately thirty days to make his decision to join the conspirators. His life philosophy was stoicism; consequently, he made his decision based on logic and reasoning and trying to avoid any emotional influence.  He was the only conspirator who killed Caesar for the good of Rome.


Since Cassius first did  whet me against Caesar
I have not slept.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion all the interim is
Like a phantasma or a hideous dream;

Act I, Scene iii-Man versus nature

This conflict stems from the stormy day and night before the Ides of March.  As Cicero tells Casca, each man must decide for himself what the omens mean. 

Cassius went through the streets with his bare chest offering himself to be struck by lightning if his purpose was not supported by the gods.

Casca walks with his sword drawn because of the terrible signs that he has seen or heard about which were quirks in nature:

  • Nocturnal bird seen in the daytime
  • The heavens spewing fire
  • Men on fire but not burned
  • A lion giving birth in the street

There are many more conflicts which move the drama’s action forward and create havoc for the characters.  Shakespeare knew that to entertain the audience with a serious factual play that he had to provide many action filled contradictory scenes.  

amysor | Student

There are many forms of conflicts (man v man, man v himself, etc.)

A conflict that stands out to me is Brutus in his man v himself conflict. Brutus in the first act, is indecisive on killing Caesar. He loves Caesar, but knows that if he remains in power, he will become a tyrant. Brutus is unsure on what to do, and Brutus really questions himself in trying to find a answer. In the end, Brutus is convinced that he has to kill Caesar in order to save Rome. He describes killing Caesar as killing a serpent egg before it hatches.

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Julius Caesar

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