A Brief History
The Bard of Avon was born on 23 April, 1564.
This is Shakespeare's official birthday in
The exact date and the precise cause of
Shakespeare's death are unknown: one local
tradition asserts that the Bard died on 23 April,
1616, of a chill caught after a night of drinking
with fellow playwrights Ben Jonson and Michael
Drayton. Shakespeare was, in fact, buried three
days later, exactly 52 years after his baptism.
Shakespeare was born and raised in the
picturesque Tudor market town of
In November of 1582, at the age of
eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway (a
woman eight years his senior), and that
she gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, six
months later. Two years after that, the
Shakespeare's had twins: Hamnet and
Judith. Hamnet, Shakespeare's only son,
would die at the age of eleven.
Between the early 1590s (The Comedy of
Errors) and the second decade of the
seventeenth century (The Tempest written in
1611), Shakespeare composed the most
extraordinary body of works in the history of
His works are often divided into periods, moving
roughly from comedies to histories to tragedies
and then to his final romances.
Retreating from London in the plague years of
1592 through 1594, Shakespeare briefly left
playwriting aside to compose long poems like
Venus and Adonis and at least some of his
sonnets. But during this period, Shakespeare
garnered the support of his first major sponsor,
the Earl of Southampton. Soon, as a leading
figure in the Chamberlain's Men company he
would garner even greater patronage from the
courts of Queen Elizabeth and her successor,
Most of Shakespeare's career unfolded during
the monarchy of Elizabeth I, the Great Virgin
Queen from whom the historical period of the
Bard's life takes its name as the Elizabethan Age
Under her reign, not only did England prosper as
a rising commercial power at the expense of
Catholic Spain, Shakespeare's homeland
undertook an enormous expansion into the New
World and laid the foundations of what would
become the British Empire.
The historical context
by William Shakesepare
Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to
have been written in 1599. It portrays the conspiracy against the
Roman dictator of the same name, his assassination and its
aftermath. It is one of several Roman plays that he wrote, based on
true events from Roman history.
Although the title of the play is Julius Caesar, Caesar is not the
central character in its action; he appears in only three scenes, and
is killed at the beginning of the third act. The protagonist of the play
is Marcus Brutus, and the central psychological drama is his struggle
between the conflicting demands of honour, patriotism, and
Betrayal, ignorance, power, jealousy,
honor, guilt, etc.
Julius Caesar- Caesar is a hero of Rome and winner of many
military campaigns, but who now seeks political power and to be the
undisputed ruler of the Roman Empire. Although he is a brilliant
military tactician, he is politically inept being indecisive and easily
flattered and swayed. He is assassinated at the mid-point of the
play, but appears as a ghost to Brutus towards the end.
Mark Antony- He occupies the position of Caesar’s First Lieutenant
and it is he who offers Caesar the crown during the feast of
Lupercal. He has a reputation of being a reveler and womanizer,
but he is also a manipulator, skilled orator and has learnt sound
military tactics from Caesar. During his speech at Caesar’s funeral,
he sways the public to his way of thinking and eventually incites
them to rebellion. He successfully brings about the downfall of
Brutus, Cassius and the other conspirators.
Cassius- Cassius is the close friend and brother-in-law of Brutus
who organizes a conspiracy against Caesar. He is very persuasive
and encourages Brutus to join the plot. His ruthlessness is tempered
by Brutus’ influence, and part of Brutus’ nobility rubs off on him as
the play develops. After his defeat by Antony at Philippi, he
commits suicide mistakenly believing that Brutus has been defeated.
Brutus- He is a well-respected judicial magistrate of Rome who is
persuaded by Cassius to join the conspiracy against Caesar. He
fears that if Caesar takes the crown of Rome, he will turn into a
tyrant and enslave the people. He heroically leads his troops and
defeats the armies of Octavius at Philippi, but loses his fight against
Mark Antony and commits suicide
Calphurnia- She is the wife of Julius Caesar
who fails to dissuade her husband from going to
the Capitol on the Ides of March. She foresees
the death of Caesar in a dream, which shows
streams of blood flowing from his body.
Portia- She is the daughter of Marcus Cato and
wife of Brutus, and is a well-educated and
intuitive woman, who senses that her husband is
involved in some sort of conspiracy. When she
realizes that her husband’s fortunes are doomed
she commits suicide by swallowing hot coals.