The Role Of Personal Conflict In Julius Caesar By William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare’s choice of unique illustrations for historical events is what shapes the individual’s perspective on the event. Shakespeare shows the audience the effect of conflict through his Julius Caesar play. Through the portrayal and impact of the conspiracy on Caesar’s flawed characters and the resulting fall of Rome, Shakespeare engages them. Characterisation, tragedy structure, and manipulation of characters and history enrich the play’s historical story.

Composers can engage an audience by dramatising or manipulating the past to demonstrate the impact of intrapersonal conflict. Shakespeare introduces Brutus’ internal conflict in the opening lines of the play. He says, “Than that Brutus… with himself at a war”. This is the first time he reveals it to the audience. Brutus’ inner conflict can be found in his soliloquy. By analogy, “It’s the bright morning that brings out the addeder;… Crown him?” We put a poison in him so that he could do whatever he wanted. Caesar is compared to a snake poisonous because he will lose compassion for people in Ancient Rome once he has too much power. Shakespeare cleverly influences Brutus’s views about Julius Caesar. Shakespeare portrays Caesar as “Caesar sat up to listen”, this third person stance highlights how ambitious he’s become and makes us feel their conflict. Shakspeare accentuates Brutus’ cognitive dissonance when Caesar is dying. He alters history by having Caesar utter the words, “E tu Brute?”. To Brutus, Shakespeare says “Then fall Caesar.” Shakespeare appeals with his dying Latin words to the audience. Together with Brutus, we feel a strong connection to Caesar. But, at the same time, we’re alienated by Caesar who still refers to him in the thirdperson. Shakespeare effectively explores the internal conflict by portraying Brutus in a way that is misinformed and doubtful about the danger Caesar poses for Rome.

Shakespeare uses historical events to engage an audience and explore the impact of conflict between characters. Shakespeare demonstrates how interpersonal conflict impacts the audience during the funeral sermon by portraying Brutus and Antony as manipulative characters that can prevent them from forming a personal perception. Brutus makes the crowd believe that Caesar is a ‘ambitious man’ by saying, “But he’s ambitious, so I killed him.” The repeated phrase ‘ambition’ shows how the conspiracy believes that Caesar has the potential to become a Tyrant, which goes against Roman ideals. Shakespeare uses a rhetorical phrase in Brutus dialogue to emphasize the conflict. The hyperbolic sentence makes the plebeians ponder their fate if Caesar were alive and supports Brutus. Shakespeare uses Mark Antony’s address to further explore the conflict between individuals. Antony starts his speech the same as Brutus: “Friends Romans Countrymen, lend your ears”. Both openings have the intention to manipulate public opinion into opposing viewpoints. The openings of both speeches share the same responsibility. But, Antony’s choice of ‘lend,’ as well as his addressing the plebeians by calling them ‘friends,’ creates a feeling of equality and shows that Antony is less ambitious. Antony reveals a reality that shows Caesar as’my friend faith and justice’ to undermine Brutus speech. He also highlights the error of the conspirators. Shakespeare uses rhetorical questions and high moderation to make the audience re-evaluate their view of the murder of Caesar. This weakens Brutus’ speech. Shakespeare has also fictionalised history by using ambiguity in Mark Antony’s speeches. He uses rhetorical questions “Did Caesar appear ambitious?” as well as feigned intentions, such as “I speak in order not to approve of what Brutus talked” to appeal the audience’s senses for logos and pathos in their engagement with the conflict. Shakespeare explores and effectively portrays the conflict between two characters, while engaging an audience.

William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar explores conflict in characters for the reasons outlined above. Shakespeare also manipulates historical events and characters to influence the audience.


  • camdynelliott

    Camdyn Elliott is a 35-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. She has been writing about education for nearly a decade, and her work has been featured on sites like The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Camdyn is the founder of the education blog Education Week, and she is also the author of the book "How to Teach Like a Pro: A Guide to Effective Teaching Methods for College and Career Students."

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