In Act 2 of Julius Caesar, why does Calphurnia want Caesar to remain at home?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 2, Scene 2 of the play, tension mounts not only among the conspirators but also between Caesar and his wife Calphurnia.  The scene takes place on the dawn of Caesar's assassination, and Calphurnia's warnings to her husband are part of his "last chance" to survive.  Calphurnia bases her first appeal to her husband upon the storm the night before.  After describing the strange night filled with lions in the streets, graves giving up their dead, and fiery warriors, she states, "O Caesar, these things are beyond all use,/ And I do fear them!"

After this appeal fails with Caesar, Calphurnia argues that Caesar will not look like a weakling if he refuses to go to the Senate; she wants him to blame his absence on her.  She tells him, "Do not go forth to-day: call it my fear."

Finally, Calphurnia's final reason was that she had had a bad dream the night before in which Caesar's statue was pouring blood and that the Romans were celebrating and bathing their hands in Caesar's blood.  Caesar actually tells Decius Brutus (one of the conspirators) about the dream, but Decius Brutus reinterprets the dream and convinces Caesar to go.


apbrown | Student

In Act 2, Calphurnia warns Caesar against going to the Senate House. Calphurnia has a disturbing dream where she witnesses Roman citizens bathing their hands in Caesar's blood. Calphurnia is convinced that her dream is forewarning of Caesar's impending death. Calphurnia is a practical woman who does not believe in omens or signs, but the dream unnerves her so much because she believes that some people want to harm her husband.

Initially, Caesar gives in to Calphurnia's pleas for him to stay home, but Calphurnia's plans to keep her husband safe is thawed by Decius. Decius convinces Caesar that he has misinterpreted the meaning of Calphurnia's dream. He tells Caesar that the dream actually means that Rome can't live without Caesar. Decius's interpretation of the dream plays on Caesar's pride. Caesar is convinced that he needs to attend the meeting at the Senate House. Decius also reminds Caesar that people would think that he is a coward if he stays home because of his wife's dream. Caesar's false sense of security leads to his own demise.

In Act 2, the strength of Caesar and Calphurnia's marriage is questionable because Caesar should have stood his ground and adhered to his wife's request if he trusted her judgement. Instead, Caesar dismisses Calphurnia's fears as being paranoid and hysterical. Calphurnia does not hold firm to her beliefs, but she gives into Caesar's demands.

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Julius Caesar

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