If you are a sophomore here at Mount Juliet High School then you have had to read Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare at some point in your English II class this school year.
Julius Caesar is a tragedy play that takes place in Rome after Caesar returns from his destruction of Pompey. The people of Rome love Caesar and want him to be king of Rome, while several of Caesar’s closest companions do not want him to be king- so they begin conspiring against him. On the ides of March (March 15), the day Caesar is to be crowned king, the conspirators stab him 23 times and kill him before he gets to become king. Mark Antony, who is basically Caesar’s only close friend that wasn’t conspiring against him, is very upset about their choice to take Caesar’s life. Upon Brutus and the other conspirators’ permission, they permit Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral after Brutus. Antony single-handedly turns all of the citizens of Rome against the conspirators (more targeted at Brutus) with his powerful speech.
Because of Shakespeare’s usage of old English, reading any of his works can be difficult to comprehend (especially if you are required to read them). A lot of students find trying to understand what the text says is tedious and boring. Some students either don’t even bother trying or just skim the plays because of how complicated understanding them can be.
“Reading Shakespeare bores me to death”, a student in my English class remarked.
At first, I did not necessarily enjoy reading Shakespeare either. In freshman year, when I had to read Romeo and Juliet for Pre-AP English I, I kind of despised it. I dreaded the fact that I would have to continue reading Shakespeare this year with Julius Caesar.
It wasn’t until I finished reading Julius Caesar that I noticed how complex all of Shakespeare’s characters really are and how the play overall was just brilliant. What triggered this epiphany I had was Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral.
My class had to do an academic exercise over how Shakespeare effectively used ethos, pathos and logos throughout Antony’s speech. So, after breaking the speech up and analyzing it, my mind was blown by how the speech was so incredibly put together. Following that realization, I re-read the whole play just to appreciate it all together.
Just to further my point I ask you to consider this: almost every story since Shakespeare’s works came out have all loosely followed the plot of one of his writings. Romeo and Juliet’s story? The common forbidden love stories us sappy people read about. Julius Caesar? Basic best friend sabotage stories. The list goes on.
Once you understand what the characters are saying and doing in the play you will realize that Shakespeare is actually a genius in the literary world and Julius Caesar is a phenomenal play.