JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare | Review

If you’ve stuck around this blog for a while then you may be familiar with the love-hate relationship I share with William Shakespeare. The Bard and I have never really clicked, mostly because a) I’m easily frustrated by his use of tricky English puns and b) I’m easily annoyed by the melodramatic nature of many of his works. (Although I suppose that the melodrama is sort of the point, to a certain extent, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Despite our rocky past, I’ve felt myself sort of coming around to Shakespeare lately.

Case in point: I actually enjoyed Julius Caesar.

*gasp* What?! Did I just admit to actually liking a Shakespeare play?

Yes. And here’s why:

+ The plot is cut and dry. Unlike some of Shakespeare’s other plays (I’m looking at you Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet), I was able to grasp the main gist of Julius Caesar pretty quickly and easily. There’s plenty of political intrigue and the events unfold quickly, clearly, and– dare I say– logically?! Usually I find Shakespeare’s plots to be lacking any semblance of logic or reason, but this play was almost realistic in this way. (It’s certainly not hard to imagine in today’s tumultuous, frenzied political climate.)The ending does possess the usual drama that his conclusions tend to exude, though I guess that’s to be expected from a tragedy.

+ Questions about honor, loyalty, and duty. I loved the major themes in this play because I think they’re so relevant to the current state of our world (as shown by this New York Times article about a recent controversial production of Julius Caesar). Should we be loyal to our government or personal relationships with others first and foremost? At what point does duty overrule loyalty or vice versa? Should honor or duty preside over common sense or morality? These are the kinds of questions that fascinate me and that really made this play stand out in particular to me.

+ Historical basis. One can probably guess from the title that this play centers around Julius Caesar, who was an actual Roman emperor. The fact that this play is based on actual historical events (with extra melodrama thrown in for good measure) makes me wonder what people thought about this at the time. Did they appreciate this play for its commentary on history or value it for its ability to entertain and captivate an audience?

+ I finally understand where the title of John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars comes from. At one point I knew that this was the Shakespeare play Green was referencing, but I had since forgotten that tidbit of info until I stumbled across the famous line:

β€œThe fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

I love exploring intertextuality and I’m actually sort of tempted to reread The Fault in Our Stars at some point to see if there are any underlying connections between the novel and the play.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Julius Caesar. Of course, I must admit that this measure of enjoyment is relative– that is, I enjoyed it considerably more than other Shakespeare plays I’ve read in the past but considerably less than other texts that are not Shakespeare plays. (I just have this unintentional apathy towards the Bard, okay?)

You win this round, Shakespeare.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: If someone asks me for a Shakespeare recommendation I would probably tell them to read this play; however, if someone asks me for a drama recommendation in general than I would definitely go with something like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town or Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

What are your thoughts on Julius Caesar? What Shakespeare play should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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4 thoughts on “JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare | Review

  1. I feel like it takes a certain type of person to read and enjoy Shakespeare’s plays for entertainment in their own time, so I don’t blame you for having a contentious relationship with his work. I worry about people’s fixation on one scene in the play, as you cited with the recent version being performed, and the fact that they misunderstand that the tragedy IS the death of Caesar which brings about the end of Rome as a republic and transfers it into an empire. I have to commend you for continuing to give the Bard a chance, though it may feel masochistic at times. Great review!

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  2. So cool to see your thoughts on Julius Caesar! As a Latin student I especially appreciate this play for its almost perfect historical accuracy. I read somewhere that Julius Caesar was actually written to commentate on the queen and giving a subtle nod to the fact she had too much power, like Caesar. Back in Shakespeare’s time you couldn’t criticize the queen openly, but you could do satirically in a play. It’s very interesting! Yes, the famous question of whether Brutus was a traitor or a patriot is quite applicable to today. I don’t agree with that new play, I however you raise important questions! I’m so glad you enjoyed this play, it’s one of my favorites by him πŸ™‚

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  3. I remember reading this in High School, and I loved act 1 but got lost and disappointed with act 2. There’s this vine I re-blog on Tumblr every Ides of March about Caesar being stabbed, and everyone in the senate was told in a group chat to bring their knives on the ides of March, and someone accidentally added Caesar to the chat XD.

    I also remember seeing that one line that the Fault in our Stars is from, and I may or may not have circled it in my textbook…I loved learning the full extent of what John Green was referencing – that the stars are fate or the cards that life has dealt us. The play makes the point that even if we’re dealt bad cards, it doesn’t matter because we control our own destinies. But TFIOS follows two kids with cancer, who can’t control their own fates.

    I’m so sorry you didn’t like Hamlet, it’s my favorite Shakespeare play XD. Well, to each their own I suppose. I think Julius Caesar act 1 might be my second favorite, but my third is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a comedy, so if you want to read a Shakespeare play with a happy ending, it might be the next place to go. Although, full disclosure, it has some weird stuff go down, which I’ve found strikes some people as confusing and others (like me) hilarious in a “What the heck is going on” way.

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