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Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are based on the entire play. Following each topic is a thesis and sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.

Topic #1
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This statement by Lord Acton, sent in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887, provides the basis for understanding the effects of power on the heads of state, and it furnishes an insight into one of the main themes in the play Julius Caesar.

Write a paper that shows how power affects the characters, the events, and the outcome of the play.

I. Thesis Statement: Julius Caesar is a play that illustrates the theme expressed by Lord Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This can be illustrated by studying the actions of the main characters in the play.

II. Background
A. Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus rule Rome (triumvirate)
B. Power struggle between Pompey and Caesar
C. Civil war ends with the death of Pompey
D. Caesar’s rise to power

III. Concern for the Republic and Caesar’s growing power
A. Flavius and Marullus disperse the crowd to minimize Caesar’s power base and protect the Roman Republic
B. A view of Caesar’s power on the feast of Lupercal, how he deals with Calphurnia and Antony

IV. The Conspiracy against Caesar
A. Cassius and Brutus discuss what must be done to prevent Caesar from destroying Rome
1. Cassius—wants personal power
2. Brutus—wants the good of Rome
3. Cassius exploits his power over Brutus by forging letters that will sway him
B. Brutus joins the plot to prevent Caesar’s abuse of power and Brutus assumes the leadership, imposing his wishes on the others
C. The conspirators have the power of life and death in Rome and they decide who will live and who will die

V. The Assassination
A. Caesar’s death causes a power struggle in Rome as the conspirators become the new leaders
B. Brutus’ funeral speech and his rise to power as the crowds want to make him king
C. Antony’s funeral speech and his rise to power unleashing the mob on Rome for his personal reasons

VI. The Aftermath in Rome
A. Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus are changed by their new- found power
1. They make a death list to consolidate their power in Rome
2. They change Caesar’s will and his generous legacy to Rome
3. Antony’s abuse of Lepidus for his political ends
B. The growing conflict between Antony and Octavius

VII. The Aftermath in Greece
A. The conflict between Brutus and Cassius
B. The impending war

VIII. The Civil War
A. The deaths of Brutus and Cassius
B. Antony and Octavius rise to power

Topic #2
Any analysis of Julius Caesar would not be complete without considering the matter of subjective interpretation. Throughout the play characters and events are judged not by what is actually happening, but by one or more characters’ interpretation of these things.

Write a paper that examines these subjective interpretations of characters and events throughout the play, providing examples to support your conclusions.

I. Thesis Statement: Understanding Julius Caesar depends on realizing that the audience’s attitude toward the characters, and the events of the play, are not rooted in reality, but in a subjective interpretation of reality.

II. Act I
A. Flavius and Marullus paint a biased and negative picture of Caesar based on their support of Pompey
1. What did Pompey do that was so good?
2. What did Caesar do that was so bad?
B. Caesar is revealed in his exchanges with Antony, Cal¬phur¬nia, and the soothsayer
C. Cassius describes Caesar to Brutus as physically weak and unfit to rule Rome
1. Cassius saved Caesar’s life while swimming
2. Caesar cried like a sick girl in Spain
D. Caesar’s assessment of Cassius as a dangerous man is the opposite of Antony’s opinion that Cassius is “a noble Roman, and well given.” (Act I, Sc. 2, 197)
E. Caesar’s behavior off stage is not seen by the audience but by Casca’s biased account of events at the Coliseum
F. Cassius describes Caesar to Casca as a...

(The entire section is 1,508 words.)