Abuse of Power in Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar was written in 1599 in England by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare has born in 1564 and died in 1616. Nobody really knows when exactly he was born but for the records it is assumed that he was born in April, creating an interesting coincidence with his death. He is the greatest writer of his century and probably of the modern era. He influenced many contemporary writers and created a new point of view in the poetry. He wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets.

In his work Julius Caesar Shakespeare shows us the change of power in Rome and the problems that Rome had there. Power is the ability to act with force. Shakespeare makes visible the abuse of power and the struggle to gain power in the biggest empire at the time. Shakespeare also shows that the power itself is more than a name or position. It is something that the people exercise. There is not absolute power, every power has limitations. Besides the servants every character in some way has his power.

Although the biggest argument in Julius Caesar is the change of power in the rulers of Rome, Shakespeare tries to show us many different kinds of power and the use of it. As we can see during the play, people with power use power just for their convenience. During the first part of the play, Shakespeare introduces the characters and the situations. He makes us notice how powerful everyone is. Throughout the different meetings and the dialogues we can feel the power of the personalities of some characters, which in the nearly future is going to make a difference.

The rulers of Rome have so much power that they can control the freedom of the people as we can see when Caesar gave an order to Antony. “I shall remember. When Caesar says do this, it is performed” (1. 2. 12-13). Although this abuse of power made the conspirators act against him, Caesar did not have absolute power and in some situations Calpurnia, his wife, had control in him “The cause is in my will. I will not come. / That is enough to satisfy the senate. / But for your private satisfaction, / Because I love you, I will let you know. / Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home.

She dreamt tonight she saw my statue, / Which, like a fountain with an hundred spouts, / Did run pure blood; and many lusty Romans / Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it. / And these does she apply for warning and portents / And evils imminent, and on her knee / Hath begged that I will stay at home today” (2. 2. 76-87). In the Roman times the women did not have the complete freedom and they were consider like a second class person. In the situation that Caesar was performing the point of a woman, was view bad, even more in the case of the ruler of Rome.

Shakespeare make visible that the conspirators had power before the ides of March, maybe not as much as Caesar. In a dialogue between Cassius and Brutus show us that Brutus is powerful enough and is more apt to be the ruler of Rome than Caesar . “.. there was a Brutus once that would have brooked / Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome / as easily as a king” (1. 2. 168-170). Although Cassius was talking about one ancestor of Brutus, he made Brutus think of the change of power in Rome and in a dark way about the conspiracy.

If Caesar would not abuse of his power, the conspirators would not planned the conspiracy and to try change the power of Caesar for Brutus’s power. The act 3 became the most important act of all the play, for Caesar’s death and also for some interesting passages of power. During the Cesar’s funeral, Brutus shows us his power in his speech and in the response of the people “Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak, for him have I offended. I pause for a reply. Plebeians none, Brutus, none” (3. 2. -37) Brutus justified the conspiracy and make that the people of Rome agree with him.

After Antony’s speech the plebeians realize “there’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony” (3. 2. 128) and the power that Brutus had already gained was Antony’s. After that speech we can notice of two interesting things that probably could change the direction of the play. The first one is if Brutus would not let Antony have a speech, in that point Brutus had enough power to decide that. The second one is if Brutus would make his speech more emotional and show that he was nobler than Antony.

Although let Antony have a speech was for showing respect for the friend, the results were so much different. In the act 4 we can see that the main decisions are being taken for the future of Rome. Antony, Octavius and Lipidus became the rulers of Rome. They have so much power that they can decide the life of the people. They are doing everything for keep their power, even killing members of the family if it is necessary. Octavius asked Lipidus if it’s fine killing his brother for the future of Rome.

Your brother too must die. Consent you, Lipidus? Lipidus I do consent” (4. 1. 3-4). The power corrupts the people who get it. The Ides of March for Brutus and the conspirators was a movement for freedom. The conspiracy against Caesar was for the good of Rome and not for the good of the new rulers itself. Although Brutus and Cassius got more power after the ides of March, they were not the rulers of Rome. The ambition and the necessity to gain more power make them forget the objective of the ides of March.

In a discussion between Brutus and Cassius, Brutus tells Cassius what was happening and remember him the objective, reminding him the ides of March “Let me tell you, Cassius, yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm, to sell and mart your offices for gold to under servers” (4. 3. 9-12). In the two last acts is where all the change of power itself changes in the struggle between Brutus’ and Antony’s forces. Although Mark Antony was the most important leader after the Caesar’s death, Octavius got the power of Rome after Brutus and Cassius died.

Octavius was the new emperor for being Julius Caesar’s great nephew. A few years after Octavius was in power, his friend Mark Antony became his rival of power. Antony combined forces with Cleopatra, the Egyptian ruler, against Octavius. Octavius won that war against Egypt. The senate gave Octavius the name of Augustus. Augustus was a wanted emperor for the Romans. Although he was the most powerful person in Rome, he worked for Rome and made the Roman Empire stronger but he had as well as powerful leader made huge mistakes.

He got married thrice for political convenience. Shakespeare lived in the renascence when the history, the arts and the science of the ancient cultures stopped to be forgotten. Four centuries the people read Shakespeare and became a symbol of the mankind with his literature. The problems of the power as Shakespeare shows us have had place since the firsts cultures appeared. The leaders and the powerful people always were corrupted for the power, and they used the power for their convenience.

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