Reading Questions for Julius Caesar Act I: 1. Explain why the tribunes have nothing but contempt for the common people of Rome. A: The Tribunes (Marullus and Flavius) think that the commoners are stupid/fickle. They also have contempt for them because they cheer for Caesar not the dead Pompey. 2. What warning does the soothsayer give? What is Caesar’s reaction to this warning? A: The warning the soothsayer gives is “Beware the Ides of March.” The Ides of March refers to the 15th of March. Caesar believes the man to be crazy and does not listen to hime. 3. Summarize Casca’s report of what happened at the games. A: Caesar was offered the crown three times but he turned it down all three times. The people cheered Caesar for his actions. Casca thinks that this was all “foolery”. 4. How does Cassius feel about Caesar? Why does Caesar fear Cassius? A: Cassius believes that Caesar is just a man like any other. Cassius is jealous because Caesar is being offered the crown and he is not. Caesar fears Cassius because he is a thinker or schemer and cannot be trusted. 5. Why is Brutus’ participation essential to Cassius? In what essential way is Brutus different from Cassius? A: Because Brutus can get close to Caesar and Cassius cannot. Caesar does not trust Cassius (he is too “lean” and has a hungry look) but he trusts Brutus because he is noble. 6. How does Cassius attempt to win Brutus over? What is it in Brutus that allows this technique to be effective? A: He appeals to Brutus’ sense of pride and his family’s history (his forefather removed the last king of Rome). This works because Brutus is a proud and honorable man (which will be his downfall. His pride is his HUBRIS.) 7. Why did Caesar refuse the crown? A: Because he fears that if he accepts the crown too quickly he might be killed/assassinated. He also refused it to appear not to be power hungry. (Politics is about perception not reality; this means that it is more important to appear to be something not be something.) Act II: 1. In his soliloquy, what reasons does Brutus give for killing Caesar? A. They (the conspirators) say that he is not fit to be king. Brutus fears that Caesar will become a serpent (tyrant) so it is better to kill him while he is still in the shell (young/weak). 2. Explain the two changes Brutus recommends in the assassination plan. A. Brutus recommends that (a) they take no oath is need to kill Caesar (motive is pure), and (b) that they not get Cicero involved. 3. Why won’t Brutus swear an oath? What character traits does his speech reveal? A. Brutus refuses to swear an oath because he thinks that they should be certain of what they are doing. If it is noble (good) there is no need for an oath. 4. Who is Calpurnia and what reasons does she give for wanting Caesar to stay at home? A. Calpurnia is Caesar’s wife. She wants him to stay home because she has had dreams of his death. (This includes a dream of Caesar’s statue bleeding/covered in blood.) 5. How is Caesar convinced to go to the Capitol and by whom? A. Decius reinterprets the dream to convince Caesar to go to the senate. In short, he tricks him. 6. Brutus justifies his actions by comparing Caesar to a serpent’s egg. Explain how this is an example of a false analogy, or a comparison that is not logical. A. Analogy: to compare two or more things. False analogy: a comparison that doesn’t work. (Ex. Sydney Crosby isn’t playing because he is a quitter, just like Carson Palmer.) Comparing Caesar to a serpent’s egg is a false analogy because Caesar is not a threat in the present; he is possibly a threat in the future. Brutus has no real reason to kill him. 7. Why does Brutus decide to go along with the conspirators? Does this prove him to be honorable? A. A false letter (written by Cassius) tricks Brutus into thinking that Rome wants him to kill Caesar just as his forefather had driven out the last Roman king 500 years earlier. Brutus enters the conspiracy because of his nobility and honour. 8. Where does Shakespeare use thunder and other storm sounds in the setting to suggest cosmic disorder? How does this weather make the reader feel? A. Weather is used to signify something bad is going to happen. (Ex. An omen => thunderstorm.) Act III: 1. What petition is presented to Caesar, and how does he respond to it? A: Metullus Ciimber wishes to have to his banished brother returned to Rome. Caesar refuses to change his mind and the petition is denied. (“Constant as the Northern Star”) 2. What reason does Brutus give the people for the assassination? A: He assassinated Caesar not that he did not love Caesar but that he loved Rome more. Had to save Rome from an ambitious Caesar. (His nobility is displayed here.) 3. How does Antony repeatedly refer to Brutus during the funeral oration? What effect does this have? A: Antony uses the expression “honorable men” to refer to Brutus and the other conspirators. By contrasting this term/expression with the action of Caesar the plebeians grow to hate Brutus. 4. What effect does Antony’s speech have on the plebeians? A: Antony speech riles up the plebeians so much that they wish to kill Brutus and the other conspirators. 5. Why does Antony befriend the conspirators immediately after the assassination? A: He makes nice with the conspirators so that they will not kill him, too. 6. Why does Brutus allow Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral? A: He thinks that Antony is no threat to the conspirators. (His hubris/over-confidence is displayed here.) 7. How does Caesar’s will affect the people? A: They love Caesar because the will would give them money and public gardens. They also grow to hate Brutus and the conspirators. Act IV: 1. What three men rule Rome after Caesar’s death? Describe each of them. A: Triumvirate (rule of three) => Antony, Octavius, Lepidus. Octavius is Caesar’s adopted son and is a teenager. Antony is Caesar most loyal companion/follower. Lepidus (a general) is described as being as sharp as a marble (like a jackass). Antony and Octavius are using Lepidus to defeat Brutus and Cassius. 2. What is the immediate cause of the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius? How does Cassius defend himself? A: Cassius accuses Brutus of betraying him when he orders Lucius Pella punished for bribery. He also accuses Cassius of having an “itching palm” (of being prone to bribery as well). Brutus is asserting his sense of honour here. 3. What happens to Portia? Describe both Brutus’ and Cassius’ reactions to the news? A: Portia commits suicide by eating fire. Brutus reacts to the news by stating that death comes for us all; it is everyone’s fate/destiny. Cassius weeps for Portia; he is a fake. 4. What supernatural event occurs at the end of Act IV? Describe Brutus’ reaction to the event. A: Brutus sees the ghost of Caesar and asks when he shall see again. The ghost responds that he will see him again at Philippi (site of the future battle). 5. How is the argument between Brutus and Cassius different from the one between Octavius and Antony in Scene i? A: Octavius and Antony have a brief dispute over Lepidus. However, Brutus and Cassius have a more animated dispute that lasts a long time. 6. Who tells Brutus “Thou shalt see me at Philippi”? What is meant by this? A: The ghost of Caesar says it. This means that Brutus will die (although Brutus does not take it that way). 7. Describe the military situation presented in Act IV. What is going on between the conspirators and the triumvirate? A. Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus are set to do battle against Cassius and Brutus at Philippi (in Greece). Act V: 1. Which four characters finally confront one another in Act V, Scene i? A. Cassius and Brutus v. Antony and Octavius 2. On whose birthday does the battle take place, and how does he feel about the battle? A. It is Cassius’ birthday and he feels that the battle is against his will. 3. What does Cassius mean in Act V, Scene I, lines 45-47? A. It means if Cassius had had his way (that is, had ordered the death of Antony) then Brutus and he would not have to listen to the “tongue” of Antony speak before the battle. 4. Explain the misunderstanding that led to the death of Cassius. A. He misinterprets the sight of his loyal servant being surrounded to me that the battle is lost. He fears for his life and orders a slave to stab him. 5. What does Brutus mean by his final words: “Caesar, now be still; / I killed not thee with half so good a will”? Why does Brutus think it is time to die? A. He knows he has done wrong by killing Caesar so he kills himself to avenge/right the assassination. He feels that in killing himself he is returning/reestablishing his sense of nobility. 6. How and why does Antony’s attitude toward Brutus change from the beginning of the act to the end? A. Antony likes Brutus in the end because Brutus (with his suicide) has once again become noble.
Pages to are hidden for
"Reading Questions for Julius Caesar"Please download to view full document