What are some examples of the motif of sickness? I need at least three.

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Certainly, the sickness of Julius Caesar provides one of the arguments for Cassius in what is known as "the seduction scene" of Act I in which Cassius persuades Brutus to join him and the other conspirators.  As Casca describes what has happened on the day of Caesar's return to Rome after having defeated Pompey and his sons.  Casca tells Brutus that Marc Antony offered Caesar a crown three times, but thrice he refused it; however, when the crowd cheered they "uttered such a deal of stinking breath"  that it nearly choked Caesar.  And, then, Caesar "swounded and fell down at it."   When Caesar comes to himself, he tells the others that his fall has been caused by his "infirmity." For,  apparently, Caesar has epilepsy.(1.2)

Further, in Act II as Portia awakens in the dawn and realizes that Brutus has been in his orchard all night, she concernedly asks him,

: Is Brutus sick, and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humors
Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
To dare the vile contagion of the night
And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus,
You have some sick offense within your mind, (2.1.272-279) 

Here Portia refers to a psychological sickness, rather than physical; she knows that Brutus has been talking with the conspirators and asks Brutus what has transpired between him and the others, telling him she is strong and can bear whatever he tells her.  However, just as Brutus begins to tell Portia Lucius and Ligarius enter and speak to Brutus.  Ligarius is ill, but he has such respect for Brutus that he comes to his house, anyway.  Lucius says to Brutus, "Here is a sick man that would speak with you," and Brutus exclaims,

 

LIGARIUS: I am not sick, if Brutus have in hand
Any exploit worthy the name of honor.(330)
BRUTUS: Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,
Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.

 

Ligarius tells Brutus that he will be well now because he is so inspired by Brutus's plan to rid Rome of a tyrant.

By all the gods that Romans bow before,
I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome!
Brave son, derived from honorable loins!(335) Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured up
My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible,
Yea, get the better of them. What's to do?

In these scenes, the motif of sickness is connected to Julius Caesar.

We’ve answered 318,944 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question