What are two examples of contradictory feelings or actions in Act V of Julius Caesar?In Act I, Brutus tells Cassius that though he would not have Caesar for a king, he still loves him. ...

What are two examples of contradictory feelings or actions in Act V of Julius Caesar?

In Act I, Brutus tells Cassius that though he would not have Caesar for a king, he still loves him.  Throughout the play, characters express what seem to be contradictory feelings or act in apparent contradiction to their professed beliefs.  What are two examples of contradictory feelings or actions in Act V of Julius Caesar?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With the motif of duality and contradiction, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a play that is interesting, if not rather difficult to understand.  For everything, there are two sides--all the characters and all the arguments, even the title (Is this play really about Caesar or about Brutus?)

Here are some examples from Act V that support this motif of contradiction within characters:

Marc Antony

The Antony of Act III, loving and loyal to Caesar, whose ironic remarks in his eulogy point to the lack of honor in Brutus and the conspirators, certainly acts in a most contradictory fashion in Act IV when he sends Lepidus, one of the triumvirate, to fetch the will of Caesar so that they can mitigate some of the legacies Antony promised the people when he read this will to the Romans after Caesar's death.  He also plans to use Lepidus to advance his political power, and then be rid of him because he is "a slight unmeritable man."  Then, in Act V, Scene 1, when he and Octavius meet Brutus and Cassius in the battlefield, he contradicts his own expedient ideas from Act IV as he insults his foes,

Villains! You did not so when your vile daggers
Hack'd one another in the sides of Caesar.
You show'd your teeth like apes, and fawn'd like hounds,
And bow'd like bondmen, kissing Caesar's feet;
Whilst damned Casca, like a cur, behind
Struck Caesar on the neck. O you flatterers! (5.1.42-47)

Cassius

Cassius in Act V goes against his original positions regarding fate.  In Act I, Scene 2, for instance, when he solicits Brutus as a conspirator in the assassination plot, he contradicts Brutus's feelings about inevitability,

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus, and Caesar: what should be in that Caesar? (21.2.145-148)

However, in Act V it is Cassius who feels the hands of fate upon him.  Supersitious in his feelings about the forthcoming battle, he tells Messala that he has observed portents that convince him it is unlucky for him to fight the battle on his birthday:

Two mighty eagles fell, and there they perch'd,
Gorging and feeding from our soldiers' hands,
Who to Philippi here consorted us.
This morning are they fled away and gone,
And in their steads do ravens, crows, and kites
Fly o'er our heads and downward look on us,
As we were sickly prey. Their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost.(5.1.87-95)

In a play of many contradictions with fickleness of character and superstition, the characters of Julius Caesar would have done well to have been aware of the Ides of March as the old soothsayer proclaimed, for these currents of change lay well within themselves.

 

 

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