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Dangerous Cassius and Arrogant Caesar Essay


In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare reveals Caesars arrogance and warns the reader of Cassius sly personality and jealousy of Caesars power, which allows him to lead a group of conspirators in the murdering of Julius Caesar. The play has a very organized structure in which the first act introduces the main characters and foreshadows the assassination. In Act I, scene ii, lines 202 to 220, Caesar explains that he sees a "lean and hungry look" (204) in Cassius that clearly indicates the man has great ambition, which could be dangerous, foreshadowing Cassius conspiracy to kill him in order to seize more power for himself.

In the middle of his comment on how dangerous Cassius is, Caesar uses parallel structure to point out the traits that make Cassius a dangerous man. Caesar states that [Cassius] reads much, / He is a great observer, and he looks / Quite through the deeds of men (211-3). While the audience may interpret these traits as compliments, Caesar finds fault in the smart, ambitious Cassius because he seems too clever. Caesar continues his list with the fact that [Cassius] loves no plays/ [like] Antony; he hears no music; / [and] Seldom he smiles (214-5). He fears Cassius because he does not enjoy life, whereas he trusts Antony who is well known for his ability to have a good time. Caesar also uses direct address to compare Cassius and Antony when he comments, He loves no plays, / As thou dost, Antony(213-4). Caesar's description of Cassius is clearly disapproving, and immediately shows the reader that he will be a source of conflict.

Caesar contrasts the traits of the men he prefers to have around him with those of Cassius, and uses repetition of the word, dangerous, to show that he is aware of the inevitable danger. In the beginning of the passage, Caesar requests to have men around him who are fat, / sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a-nights (202-3). Then, he contrasts such men with Cassius who has a lean and hungry look (204) and thinks too much (205). Caesar notices these intimidating traits of Cassius to conclude that he is dangerous (205). Caesar uses repetition to emphasize the fact that Cassius is a dangerous man. He starts off by suggesting that Cassius thinks too much [and that] such men are dangerous (205) and follows with reasons why he is dangerous, and finally ends his observation by stating again that men like Cassius are very dangerous (220). The fact that Caesar is aware of some kind of danger makes his death very ironic because it could have been avoidable, but his pride gets in the way.

Caesars arrogance is revealed throughout his opinions about Cassius. He states that men like Cassius are dangerous but [he fears] him not (208). He tries to hide his cowardice because he is too powerful a man to fear anything. He also worries about his superior image in front of his people. Consequently, he hides his fear, which great men like him do not have. Caesar obviously thinks of himself as a greater than Cassius when he says that Such men as he be never at hearts ease / Whiles they behold a greater than themselves, / And therefore are they very dangerous (218-220). Shakespeare not only reveals Cassius as manipulative, but also reveals Caesar as haughty and foreshadows his death. Caesar is so full of himself that he thinks that Cassius is envious of his power and popularity, and will never be at rest while someone else holds power over him.

Throughout Caesars eighteen-lined observation, Shakespeare effectively uses parallelism to list the reasons that Cassius seems dangerous, repetition of the word, dangerous, to show how aware Caesar is of Cassius sly ways, thus making his death ironic, and diction to emphasize Caesars hubris. William Shakespeares powerful use of figurative language allows him to reveal the traits of two main characters and foreshadow a major event in only eighteen lines.

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