Julius Caesar - Act III The turning point or crisis occurs in Act Three, as it does in all of Shakespeare's plays. It occurs at the point at which the hero's fate is in the balance. Turning Point Favorable Outcome Tragic Outcome As the act opens, Caesar enters the Senate for the last time. He is surrounded by the conspirators, and at a command from Casca, he is stabbed at least once by each. The cruelest blow of all is dealt by Brutus. OBJECTIVES • To make inferences about characters by evaluating and using information found in dialogue • To select correct details that apply to the plot and characters of Julius Caesar • To state opinions and interpretations about characters, actions, and events • To recognize the dramatic structure of Acts One through Five • To interpret the irony in selected passages • To write an essay using specific passages to analyze a selected character Questions and answers have been provided for you. Your job is to cite the lines from the play that corroborate the answers to the questions. Be sure to use the exact language in the line format presented. Line numbers are not necessary. READING CHECK 1. Why does Caesar push aside the paper Artemidorus asks him to read? Since it pertains to himself, Caesar will read it last. 2. Who is the first conspirator to strike Caesar? Casca. 3. Why does Antony shake hands with the conspirators? He wants them to believe he is their friend. 4. What two requests does Antony make of Brutus? He asks to be allowed to accompany Caesar's body to the marketplace and to speak in the pulpit. 5. What prediction does Antony make about the consequences of Caesar's death? He prophesies civil war. 6. Why does Antony send word to Octavius? He warns Octavius that Rome is unsafe. 7. What does Brutus give the citizens as his reason for killing Caesar? He tells them that Caesar was ambitious. 8. According to Antony, what are the terms of Caesar's will? He has left every Roman citizen money and the use of his private grounds for recreation. 9. What news does Antony receive of Brutus and Cassius? They have left Rome. 10. What does the mob do in revenge for Caesar's death? They burn down the conspirators' houses and kill an innocent man, Cinna the poet. FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION 1. You have seen Caesar three times onstage and heard many characters talk about him. a. What is your opinion of him? (No line citations necessary) Answers will vary. Feelings will probably be contradictory: admiration for his courage and fearlessness, and pity for, or dislike of, his ambition and vanity. b. Is he likable? (No line citations necessary) Answers will vary. Caesar is likable in that he has strengths and weaknesses. He is courageous, a strong leader, and self-confident; he is also indecisive, self-serving, and susceptible to flattery. He is certainly loved by the people, and he took care of them in his will. 2a. What are Caesar's dying words? Lines (___). b. How did you feel as these words were spoken? (No line citations necessary) Responses will vary. Most students will pity a man who realizes his friend has participated in his murder. 3a. Describe the mood of the conspirators immediately after the assassination. (No line citations necessary) They seem highly excited and impulsive. They fear retribution. h. What is the idea they claim to have killed? The idea of tyranny. 4. In Scene 1, what side of Cassius' character is seen for the first time? He sees the assassination as a noble act that gives the country liberty. He seems more idealistic here, not so cunning and manipulative, though his words may be simply rhetoric to justify the deed. 5. With Caesar murdered, Antony's position is perilous. Look carefully at his words in Scene 1. a. What impression does he wish to give the conspirators? Antony does not try to hide his grief over Caesar's death and offers to have the conspirators kill him on the spot. When they refuse, he shakes their bloody hands to give the impression that he trusts them and is willing to make amends. By discussing their views of his present behavior, he succeeds in giving the impression that he is being honest when he claims to be their friend. His requests are modest: only that they give him the reasons why Caesar was killed, and that he be allowed to speak at Caesar's funeral. h. Where in the scene do you learn how he really feels? After the conspirators leave, Antony reveals his true feelings: grief, rage, and hatred. He vows vengeance and predicts a long and bloody war. 6. Cassius' loyalty to Brutus, like his resentment of Caesar, is personal. Does Brutus have any personal loyalties? Explain your answer. (No line citations necessary) Answers will vary. His loyalty to Portia is personal, but he still does not want to share his plans with her. His loyalty to Caesar, of course, proves insufficient to keep him from participating in the murder. 7. Notice that Brutus' speech in Scene 2 is in prose whereas Antony's is in verse. a. How does Brutus' speech show that he addresses himself more to the citizens' reason than to their emotions? His sentences are balanced, in the best rhetorical style. His arguments are careful, appealing to reason. His speech is totally unemotional. He wants the citizens to think and agree with him; he does not want to move their hearts. b. What values does he assume the citizens cherish? He assumes they cherish a love of country and freedom. 8. Which remarks by the citizens show that they have not understood Brutus at all? They want to crown him Caesar; they have totally ignored what Brutus has said about the primacy of freedom. They have not understood that Brutus slew his friend because of his friend's destructive ambition. 9a. What does Antony say in his speech to make the crowd feel (a) sorry for him? (b) guilty about having thought Caesar a tyrant? (c) angry at the conspirators? (a) Antony makes the crowd feel sorry for him by reminding them that Caesar was his faithful and just friend (line __) and by pausing as if overcome by grief (lines __-__). (b) Antony makes the crowd feel guilty by telling them that Caesar wept for the poor (line __) and that Caesar left each Roman citizen a legacy and gave his private lands to the public. (c) Antony makes the crowd feel angry at the conspirators by denying that Caesar was ambitious (lines ____), by reminding the citizens of what Caesar did for Rome, (lines __-__), and by telling them of Caesar's regard for them as shown in his will (lines __-__ and __-__). He also arouses their anger against the conspirators by arousing pity for Caesar, showing them the wounds on the body made by those whom Caesar trusted (lines __-__). b. What props does he use to produce these reactions? He produces the will, Caesar's cloak, and Caesar's mutilated body. 10. By the end of Scene 2, whose personal leadership has replaced Caesar's? The citizens have eagerly moved toward Antony; Octavius, however, is Caesar's legal heir and he has arrived in Rome. 11. What does Scene 3 show about the nature of a mob? The scene shows how thoroughly fickle a mob can be and how it can be moved to violence. 12a. In what way is Scene 3 humorous? When Cinna turns out to be the poet rather than the conspirator, the mob wants to kill him anyway–for his bad verses. The dialogue between Cinna and the commoners is humorous, in much the same way that the opening scene of Act One was humorous. There are puns on the words wisely, directly, and dwell. (Cite the lines where the puns occur.) b. Does the use of humor increase or lessen the horror of the mob's attack on an innocent man? Explain your answer. Students' answers will vary. Most will probably think the humor increases the horror at the mob's attack on the wrong man, since there is nothing funny about mindless violence, nor about an innocent person being its victim. (No line citations necessary) LITERARY ELEMENTS Dramatic Structure: Plot We know that Anthony will be allowed to speak at Caesar’s funeral in Scene 1. Cassius ever shrewd mistrusts the request. Brutus, ever fair, wins out. The fate of the conspirators is now sealed: we know Antony’s rage. Irony The passage from Act Two is ironic because Antony powerfully sways the crowd with his speech and turns the mob against Brutus and the other conspirators. Anthony is more that an impotent arm; he is, in fact, more dangerous than Caesar himself. The second speech is ironic because Anthony’s speech is actually full of praise for Caesar. The third speech is ironic in that Anthony is ultimately responsible for the downfall of Brutus, Cassius, and the others because he does stir the crowd to mutiny and rage. He wants to do them wrong; he does not believe they are honorable men.
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