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Julius Caesar summary at eNotes

Popular Government

This leads to the closely related matter of popular government. It is essential to note that the conspirators are not champions of democracy. Indeed, the demos or common people are part of their problem. The mob here, as in all of Shakespeare's political works, is fickle, self-interested, and vulnerable to the manipulations of demagogues. Brutus fears that the ignorant plebians will proclaim Caesar as Rome's absolute monarch (I, ii, ll.77-78), and he is right. Caesar plays the mob with his feigned, ceremonial refusal of the crown from their hands. Mark Antony's famous funeral oration is a model of rabble-rousing propaganda, raising the crowd's feelings toward Brutus and the rest, then shaping those feelings into hatred before motivating them through the promise of material gain according to Caesar's will. Granted, Brutus, Cassius and their cohorts flee Rome, but what is most striking about the crowd's reaction is not its pointed animosity toward the conspirators, but its mindless frenzy. With tyranny vanquished by lethal force, authority cut asunder and men at large (at least the mass of them) return to a savage, pre-civil state, where poets are killed for having the wrong name.

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Check out Analyzing Caesar for some good essays on this play.

A good summary of the play at About Shakespeare.

A web project on Julius Caesar at this student site.




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