Desperate senate-wives

Bravery, pride, and undoubtedly, tragedy, all compose and give life to Julius Caesar a play written in 1599 by the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. The play relates the sequence of historical events of Julius Caesar's assassination, including its subsequent battles "that ended what begun on the Ides of March" that confronted the triumvirs to the conspirators. Throughout the story, it becomes quite evident that the plot is profoundly influenced by the interactions involving two key, but almost infinitesimal, characters. Despite their brief presence in the play, the wives of Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus contribute magnanimously to the cognition of the play's main characters, conjuring every bit of the personal and domestic sides of both men's lives.

As opposed to other Shakespearean theatrical works, the women in Julius Caesar are a major asset to the plot of story. All through the play, Brutus and Caesar only appear in public places, precluding the audience to cognize or understand the characters' "true selves" in their households. However, the audience unravels this hidden fact only when Portia and Calpurnia either are on stage, or the subject of a conversation. Both women help the audience discover the private personalities of the two men. Before Decius - one of the conspirators - convinces Caesar to go to the Senate, Calpurnia beseeches him not to leave the house, for she has dreamt Caesar's statue "like a fountain with an hundred spouts, / [Has run] pure blood, and many lusty Romans / [Have come] smiling and did bathe their hands in it." At first, the emperor is adamant to Calpurnia's pleas, asserting that "things [threatening Caesar]... are vanishd" when they see him. His words show that even when Caesar is not at public places, he believes he is invincible and still acts superior over people like his wife. In fact, their couple does not seem like one based on love and trust, but rather on superiority. Brutus' personal and public lives, however, jar tremendously from each other. More than once Brutus has appeared emotional, sometimes effeminate when confronted to private difficulties usually related to Portia - when she thinks she is "Brutus' harlot," and after Brutus is imparted of her death. As she does so, Portia evinces the personal aspects of her husband's life, which, in a way, make Brutus seem like a man with relatively common problems, as opposed to Caesar.

We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine. It's a life.

The only two women in Julius Caesar render a genuine character to the two greatest men in Rome, for they bring about a human side to their image. Because of this, one must visualize and re-imagine the play in such a way that the only two women are excluded from it. Excluding them will make one further realize their importance and role in the story. If Calpurnia and Portia were to be precluded from the play, Brutus and Caesar would, in a way, appear to be "fake" and not "real", lacking, or not displaying their feelings and true emotions. The audience would never know that Brutus, even though deemed to be one of the noblest and most commendable men in Rome, is and remains a plain, normal person, with the same troubles and common afflictions that affect the typical Roman of the time if Portia were to be omitted from the play. In their first conversation in the play, Portia declares her anxiety and fret over her husband's unusual behavior, stating she has left a distressed and pondering Brutus alone the night before, "Hoping [Brutus' agitation] was but an effect of humor, / Which sometimes hath his hour with every man." (II, 1, 250-251) The last two words of the quoted passage are just enough for Shakespeare to clearly demonstrate Brutus' humanness and non-superiority, confuting each possibility for the audience to think Brutus was "more." The discussion Portia and Brutus have subsequently adds to the story's suspense and tragic plot, for the audience now is aware of Brutus' subjection to flaws and imperfections that beleaguer the common man. Of course, were Portia excluded from the play, the audience would have never known about Brutus' human traits. Therefore, if the XVI century man had watched the movie The Truman Show, which is slightly improbable, he would have disparaged Brutus as being an actor giving "phony emotions," a "lifeless background" actor, as Cristof says it in the first few lines of the tree times Oscar-nominee movie. Another way of looking at the two "senate-wives" is to consider how they could have affected the final outcome of the play if Brutus and Caesar, possibly the two most salient characters of the play, actually listened to their wives.

Despite their "physically" small role in the play, the wives of Brutus and Caesar also represent reasoned judgment. The tragic end of Julius Caesar is the summation of the mistakes and the faux pas Caesar and Brutus have made, certainly due to the fact that the two men rebuffed their wives' advices or refused to share what is on their mind, sometimes in ways that involve lies. Before Brutus decides to join the conspiracy, he is deeply troubled and perturbed by the possible consequences of his actions. When his wife declares her desperation and need to be imparted with his tribulation, Brutus fibs that he is "not well in health," (II, 1, 257) hiding her from the truth. Of course, if Brutus had told her about the conspiracy, the good advice of a caring woman would have prevented Brutus from doing what would eventually make him eternally eaten by Lucifer's left mouth in the Ninth Circle of Hell (Dante's Inferno, Canto XXIV), for she would have probably objected the conspiracy.

Throughout the story, the interactions involving the wives of Brutus and Caesar greatly affect the outcome of the play, for they profoundly contribute to the cognition of the two most salient characters of the play. Their presence in the play gives the audience a different perspective on the characters, like one of an inside man. As highlighted by the old saying, Portia and Calpurnia allow us to see these otherwise great and intimidating historical characters from the point of view of an intimate. Renaissance philosophers said it, "No man is a hero without his own valet."

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