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Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. An Overview. Elizabethan Times. Time for heroes—Men were: Witty, eloquent Examined own nature Adventurers, fencers, poets, conversationalists Women had lower social status, despite nation being run by a Queen. Elizabethan Times.

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elizabethan times
Elizabethan Times
  • Time for heroes—Men were:
    • Witty, eloquent
    • Examined own nature
    • Adventurers, fencers, poets, conversationalists
    • Women had lower social status, despite nation being run by a Queen
elizabethan times1
Elizabethan Times
  • Great Chain of Being (social structure)
    • Royalty, nobility, peasantry considered different species from each other
    • Upset in Great Chain portended (warned) by signs and nature
      • Weather, unusual animal behavior, etc.
  • Divine Rule of Kings
    • Reigning monarch was God’s agent
    • Rebelling against monarch = rebelling against God; upset of the great chain
elizabethan times2
Elizabethan Times
  • England in a succession crisis
    • Queen Elizabeth left no heirs, refused to marry
    • People feared another War of the Roses (long bloody battle-rival families fighting for crown)
    • British people very concerned about this problem
    • Shakespeare could not comment directly on England’s political affairs; did so indirectly in theater
elizabethan times3
Elizabethan Times
  • 1599 very important year
    • Globe Theater completed
    • Julius Caesar first performed
    • Caesar very popular subject
      • Writers saw numerous similarities to England’s situation
        • Political uncertainty due to lack of heir
        • First attempts at colonization (Roanoke 1585)
shakespeare s caesar
Shakespeare’s Caesar
  • Primary source for information on Caesar
    • Plutarch’sLives of Noble Grecians and Romans
    • Written in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter)
    • Often shifts from poetry to prose
      • Create mood, establish the status of a character, etc.
shakespeare s caesar1
Shakespeare’s Caesar
  • Play begins in medias res (in the middle of something)
  • Figurative language
    • Simile
    • Metaphor
    • Irony
      • Dramatic Irony: audience knows something characters do not
      • Situational Irony: when what happens is different than what is expected
      • Verbal Irony: speaker says something but means another
the tragic hero
The Tragic Hero
  • Aristotle’s definition
    • A god, demi-god, hero, high-ranking official
    • Rises to high position then falls from position, usually to utter desolation or death
    • Two forces equally powerful in classic tragedy

- Hero’s tragic flaw (hamartia)

- Fate

tragic hero
Tragic Hero
  • During Renaissance, people felt less like pawns, more in charge of their destinies
  • Elizabethan tragic hero responsible for own downfall, rather than fate
  • “Waste of human potential” tragic to Elizabethans
  • Contrast between destiny and free will recurring theme in play