STUDY QUESTIONS—THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR
Short answer questions (10 points per Act)
Answer each question in complete sentences.
1. How does Cassius feel about Caesar?
2. Why does Caesar fear Cassius?
3. Why is Brutus’s participation essential to Cassius?
4. In what essential way is Brutus different from Cassius?
5. How does Cassius try to win Brutus over?
6. What is it about Brutus that allows this technique to be effective?
7. Why does Caesar refuse the crown?
8. Consider the reactions of Cicero and Casca to the storm.
9. What do their reactions reveal about them? How does the storm itself help to advance the plot?
1. What two changes to the assassination plan does Brutus recommend?
2. Why does he recommend these changes?
3. Brutus justifies his actions by comparing Caesar to a serpent’s egg (2.1.32-34). How is this a false analogy?
4. Why does Brutus decide to go along with the conspirators? Does his decision prove him honorable?
1. Why does Antony befriend the conspirators immediately after the assassination?
2. Why does Brutus allow Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral?
3. How does Caesar’s will affect the people? Why?
4. What is the purpose of Brutus’ speech after the death of Caesar?
5. Why does Anthony make repeated use of the word ―honorable‖ in his speech?
6. What warning does Cassius give Brutus?
1. What is the immediate cause of the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius?
2. How does Cassius defend himself?
3. What does the argument reveal about the characters’ natures?
4. How does Portia die?
5. How does Brutus react to her death?
6. How does Cassius react to her death?
7. What essential difference between the characters is demonstrated through their reactions?
1. How and why does Antony’s attitude toward Brutus change from the beginning of the act to the end?
2. Who is the tragic hero of the play—Julius Caesar or Brutus?
3. What is Caesar’s tragic flaw?
4. What is Brutus’s tragic flaw?
5. What is the central action of the play?
6. What does Brutus see as the meaning of the central action and its consequences?
Open Response Essay Prompts
Answer #1,# 2, #7 and one other of your choosing. Your responses should be typed and be written as if you were
writing a formal essay (in open response format). I would expect that each complete response be no less than one page
typed (double-spaced). Certainly, given the complexity of some of these questions, I understand that some responses
may be longer. Fear not if they are!
This is a 50 point assignment. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, and applicable rules from my ―Don’ts‖ page matter!
1.) Compare Cassius and Brutus in terms of their nobility, ideals, sincerity, courage, and honor.
2.) How are the common people presented in the play? What are the varying attitudes expressed about them in
3.) Why is the Poet included in Act IV Scene iii?
4.) In what ways do Antony and Octavius disagree about Lepidus? What does this reveal of their characters?
Determine how you would have Lepidus portrayed – this would impose an interpretation of the characters of
Antony and Octavius.
5.) How do Brutus’ and Antony’s funeral orations differ?
6.) Characterize Caesar.
7.) In your opinion, is the killing of Caesar justified?
1. blank verse > poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter lines
2. iambic pentameter > a line of poetry with five iambic feet, each with one unstressed syllable followed by one
3. dramatic irony > a contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows to be
4. verbal irony > when words are used to suggest the opposite of their usual meaning
5. irony of situation > when an event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the reader or the
6. aside > a short speech delivered to the audience by an actor in a play and spoken in an undertone to suggest
that the rest of the characters on stage are unable to hear it
7. soliloquy > a long speech made by a character who is alone on stage, revealing the character’s thoughts and
feelings to the audience
8. monologue > a speech made entirely by one character, which may be addressed to another character or to the
9. tone > the writer’s attitude toward the reader and the subject; may be formal or informal, friendly or distant,
personal or impersonal
10. tragic flaw > a character weakness that accounts for the fall of a tragic hero