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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0203  Wednesday, 5 February 2003

[1]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 09:31:07 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0189 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

[2]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 09:52:38 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0189 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 09:31:07 EST
Subject: 14.0189 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0189 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

Dear Friends,

One could make a better argument that Cassius is the protagonist of
"Julius Caesar." His god disappoints him. Driven by envy, he inspires a
conspiracy to dispatch him. He alone perceives how the deed will be
remembered. His cat's paw turns on him. He's doomed by eyesight fatally
flawed. He dies on his birthday. His minions celebrate him as the "sun
of Rome," i.e. great Mars himself, the fire of his envy consumes Caesar,
Brutus, Portia, and the rump Roman republic.

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Feb 2003 09:52:38 -0600
Subject: 14.0189 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0189 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

On this matter, there may be some help from Charles Boyce, in his
excellent "Wordsworth Dictionary of Shakespeare":

"The telling comparisons between Brutus and Caesar demonstrate the
play's most essential ambivalence: the tyrant and his opponent are not
easily distinguishable. ...Both Brutus and Caesar have great leadership
qualities, and being certain of his virtues, each is susceptible to
flattery and manipulation by lesser men.  In murdering Caesar, Brutus
follows the Caesar-like course of attempting to change society in
accordance with his views. Similarly, in the war that follows the
assassination, Brutus behaves as imperiously as Caesar did, enacting
precisely the failings of autocratic leadership - the isolation from his
followers, the presumption of sound decision-making, the potential for
tyranny - that the had acted to prevent in killing Caesar.
Significantly, Casesar's Ghost identifies himself as Brutus' 'evil
spirit' (4.3.281)."

This encourages us to name Brutus the protagonist, especially since the
quantity of the text assigned to him makes analysis from that
perspective so much easier.

L. Swilley

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