Julius Caesar Act III Journal Questions
1) Caesar makes some claims about himself in Act III. Based on internal evidence in the play, are these claims true? Do you think the qualities he claims to have would be good qualities in a ruler?
Caesar refers to himself as “immovable as the North Star,” and given the turn of events that brought him to the Senate, this is likely very true. Caesar is indeed immovable, even the face of overwhelming opposition. Despite numerous warnings from his wife and soothsayers about his impended doom, he ignores the danger and goes to the Senate. Even in the last minute, someone attempts to hand him a written warning and he brushes it off, saying his personal needs come after business, and refuses to read it. His stubborn immovability ends up leading to his death. He also insinuates that he is divine, by making mention of Mount Olympus, the legendary dwelling place of the gods, and that he is as unshaken as the mountain itself. By making a statement like this, as well as putting his personal interests last in not reading the letter, Caesar seems to ascribe to the notion that his public self is divine and immortal, thereby protecting his personal self with his image. While this idea doesn’t prevent his death, by the end of Act 3, it does end up avenging it. When Antony reminds the crowd of Caesar’s devotion to them, he becomes immortalized in their hearts and minds, and in essence, becomes an immortal god as he believed himself to be. As to whether or not these are good qualities of a ruler that highly depends on the context in which these qualities are applied. A leader does need to be firm and resolute, but not to the point of foolhardiness. A leader can be firm and strong when needed, but should also be flexible when needed too. Caesar’s stubbornness might be good in holding a vast empire together, but his inability to be flexible in his personal life lead to the revolt of his Senators, tired of his leadership, and his ultimate death.
2) What opinion of the plebeians do you have after reading Act III and why?
The term “plebeian” has, in recent times, been used in a somewhat derogatory way to describe the blind following of the public and how easily the public opinion allows itself to be led and manipulated through various types of propaganda. There have been many commentaries on the short term memory of the masses who forget the misdeeds of a politician during election time, constantly re-voting for someone who has a record of misdeeds which are forgotten about in the face of pretty campaign advertisements. In fact, some even use the term “sheep” to describe the masses who are so easily led without question. The tide of public opinion actually can be very easily turned, and the term plebeian has been referred to the masses who allow their opinions to be so easily manipulated. In the play, the crowd demonstrates this fairly starkly. In a matter of minutes, the crowd goes from allowing one orator to convince...