Superstition In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

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The First Folio of the play Julius Caesar was published in 1623, by the amiable William Shakespeare. The play sets in 44 B.C., ancient Rome. Julius Caesar an accomplished Roman general has returned from his trip to Spain to defeat his political opponent Pompey (Shakespeare). With Pompey dead, Caesar’s friend Brutus is somewhat concerned about his next move to power. With the poisonous words of Cassius, Brutus’ friend, Brutus convinces himself that Caesar is on an inevitable road to becoming a power hungry savage. According to Brutus, death is the only hope to prevent such a catastrophe. However, as Brutus and the conspirators scheme, nature screams at Caesar with terrible omens foretelling his death (Shakespeare). The role of superstition …show more content…
However, superstition can also be traced through ancient Rome. Doug Stuva, a graduate of Creighton University, states, “Many superstitions of the Elizabethan Age date back to much earlier times, including the Age of the Roman Empire. Thus, the inclusion of omens and dreams in Shakespeare 's Julius Caesar is of great significance both to the audience and to the play itself. Throughout the play, there are soothsayers, dreams, ghosts, and personal interpretations of the stars that greatly affect the characters.” (Stuva) An example of superstition in the Victorian society, includes the belief that mirrors held special powers in correlation to the human spirit (Corbella). If a family member had passed away, all household mirrors would be covered to prevent the deceased’s spirit to be entrapped in a mirror. Many items in a Victorian household were considered of supernatural importance. Historian Alexandra Corbella explains the significance of clocks during the Victorian era, “Clocks were believed to hold a special relationship to life and death in the Victorian era. When someone passed away it was customary for the family to stop all the clocks in the household. Stopping the clocks in the home served multiple purposes. It was believed to prevent anyone else in the family from experiencing a run of bad luck, and it was a symbolic act meant …show more content…
Through the various themes and omens, Shakespeare revealed Julius Caesar’s pride. The first evidence of superstition resides in the act 1 scene where Caesar asks Antony to touch his wife, Calpurnia, to cure her bareness. A moment later a soothsayer calls out to Caesar warning him to be wary of the ides of Mach (Shakespeare). The significance of this element in this scene displays Caesar’s fluctuating superstitious attitude. He first acknowledges his belief that having his right hand man Antony touch his wife’s arm in public will cure Calpurnia’s bareness. However, when the soothsayer attempts to warn Caesar of his death, Caesar instantly dismisses him as ludicrous. Once Caesar denies the soothsayer, he continues this attitude by ignoring all other omens pointing directly to his death. Ghosts, sketchy weather, bizarre animal behavior and vivid dreams of death are appearing in a constant

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