Unimportant Julius Caesar questions

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  1. 1. What dramatic technique does Shakespeare use to start his play?
    • Suspense.
    • In the beginning of the play, Shakespeare throws us into the midst of the turmoil between the unhappy plebeians and the rich, content patricians.
    • He further establishes suspense in the decision to kill/banish Marulus and Flavius for removing the decorations on Caesar's statute. This of course is foreshadowing the unhappiness of the senators and the action that they will eventually take to ride them of a "tyrant".
  2. 2. What is the significance of Marullus’ rebuke of the commoners?
    Marullus is emotional in his attempts to drive the crowds from the streets in Julius Caesar, reminding them of their former love for Pompey and of the manner in which they once cheered him. It's significant because it establishes his bitterness and hatred towards Caesar's return.
  3. 3. Why does the Second Commoner pun?
    • The cobbler appears in the first scene in the play. He is called the Second Commoner in the play. His function is to annoy Flavius and Marullus, who are not at all pleased that Julius Caesar is returning to Rome after defeating Pompey’s army. As the common people, who love Caesar, celebrate in the streets, Marullus and Flavius try to get them to leave. The cobbler pesters them with one pun after another.
    • A pun is a play on words. Shakespeare loves them. A character is punning when he uses a word that can mean two different things.
  4. 4. Identify and explain the cobbler’s puns.
    • When Marullus asks him what his trade is, the cobbler says:
    • A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.
    • Here, soles can be taken to mean the bottom of a shoe or a “soul.”
    • When Marullus presses him for a more direct answer, the cobbler says:
    • Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.
    • Here “mend” can mean fix his shoes or fix whatever’s bothering him.
    • He also says:
    • Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl
    • He is punning on “all” and “awl” which sound the same but aren’t. An “awl” is a shoe repair tool.
    • I recover them.
    • Recover can mean help them (the bad shoes) recover from a problem or put a new cover on them.
    • All of this sillyness helps characterize the common people for the audience. The commoners really take a beating from the higher classes in this play. They are constantly being insulted and demeaned by the other characters. This shows them to be of little consequence in serious matters.
  5. 5. Why are Marullus and Flavius upset about Caesar’s triumphant return?
    The tribunes are angry that the working class citizens of Rome gather to celebrate Caesar’s victory, while forgetting Pompey, the Roman hero (and a part of the First Triumvirate that ruled Rome) who was killed in battle alongside Caesar. Their hostility toward Caesar serves to introduce the deep political divide that will become the central issue of the play.
  6. 6. Why do the Tribunes chase the commoners away, and for what does Marullus reprimand them?
    Marullus reprimands them for worshiping Caesar too easily and just as easily forgetting Pompey. They chase them away so Caesar won't "fly too high" or become too powerful.
  7. 7. What literary term is illustrated by the following quotation:
    “And do you now put on your best attire?
    And do you now cull out a holiday?
    And do you now strew flowers in his way…”?
    This quote is an example of ANAPHORA....which consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses ("and do you now" is repeated on every line at the beginning).
  8. 1. Why does Caesar mention his desire that Calpurnia stand “directly in Antonio’s way”?
    ... Calpurnia is barren, unable to have children. According to legend, a runner at the ancient Roman Lupercalia (a holy festival) could turn a barren woman fertile if he were to touch her during his run.

    Caesar is urging Calpernia to stand "directly in Antonio's way" in the hopes that she may be made fertile by his touch. He then urges Antonio not to forget to reach out to her as he runs by.
  9. 2. How might Caesar’s concern reflect the concerns of his Elizabethan audience?
  10. 3. Why are the tribunes Flavius and Marullus punished?
  11. 4. What is the soothsayer’s warning to Caesar? What does it mean?
  12. 5. What problem with the time sequences does Shakespeare present to his audience?
  13. 6. What fear does Brutus note?
  14. 7. According to Cassius, what happened when Caesar and Cassius went swimming in the Tiber? What is the point of this story?
  15. 8. What does Cassius say about fate, free will, and being “underlings”?
  16. 9. What is noticeably different about Casca’s speech pattern compared to Caesar’s or Brutus? Why is this significant?
  17. 10. What two physical ailments of Caesar’s are mentioned in this scene? Why are they significant?
  18. 11. In response to the “falling sickness,” what is the meaning of Cassius’ sarcasm?
  19. 1. Why do the conspirators plant papers on Brutus’ chair?
  20. 2. There are four specific things Casca has seen. What are they? How does Casca interpret these strange happenings? How does Cassius? How would Shakespeare’s audience have interpreted them?
  21. 3. How do the signs highlight Shakespeare’s apparent problem with time sequences?
  22. 4. On whom does Cassius blame Caesar’s power? Why is this significant?
  23. 5. Cassius describes Caesar as a wolf and lion, and the Romans as sheep. What literary term is illustrated here? What is its significance?
  24. 6. Why is it important to the conspirators to have Brutus come in with them?
  25. 1. Why does Brutus believe that Caesar must be stopped from becoming the king? Do you think Brutus’ fear of what Caesar may become is justified?
    Because he thinks that no single man is worthy of that much power. The people of that time were used to being ruled by three rulers at once. He feared that no one should have so much power.
  26. 2. What are the “exhalations” by which Brutus reads the letter Lucius delivers?
  27. 3. What strategical error do Brutus and Cassius make when they are discussing Caesar’s death? Why do they commit such a blunder?
  28. 4. What does the fact that Caesar is so easily swayed by flattery say about his character?
  29. 5. Why does Portia stab herself?
    1. What is the significance of Calpurnia’s dream, as recounted by Caesar?
  30. 2. What types of evidence does Calpurnia offer to support her assertion that Caesar should stay home?
  31. 1. What is the purpose of this scene?
  32. 2. What major theme does Artemidorus’ letter advance?
  33. 1. Why is Portia so distracted?
  34. 2. What is the soothsayer’s plan?
  35. 3. Why is Shakespeare going to such lengths to try to warn Caesar?
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Unimportant Julius Caesar questions
Julius Caesar
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