In this passage, Caesar’s wife, Calphurnia, tries to convince him to stay at home after a nightmare about Caesar. Caesar consults the priests who bring him bad tidings but he chose to interpret them differently and still is determined to go out. The mood of this extract is one of dramatic tension and it develops into an atmosphere of dread and impending doom.
Dramatic tension is gradually being built up starting from Caesar’s declaration that ‘Thrice hath Calphurnia in her sleep cried out, ‘Help, ho! They murder Caesar!’. This was one of the omens that were present in this extract which foreshadows the assassination of Caesar. It suggests that the moment of Caesar’s death is drawing closer and closer. Calphurnia then pleads with Caesar to not leave the house, saying that ‘When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.’. Calphurnia means that when people like Caesar are about to die, the gods will put forth portents that are big and bold. This further adds to the dramatic tension as we have seen quite a lot of signs of something evil happening and Calphurnia’s accurate statement reinforces the fact.
The mood is developed into an absolute sense of dread and fear as the priests return with the results: ‘Plucking the entrails of an offering forth, they could not find a heart within the beast.’. This is again an obvious sign of Caesar’s impending doom and changes the atmosphere from a tense one to a one of dread as Caesar’s fate has been sealed by even the gods yet Caesar remains unconvinced. He says that ‘The gods do this in shame of cowardice’ and calls himself the ‘elder and more terrible’ between him and danger and makes up his mind to leave for the Senate. Caesar’s arrogance seals his fate. We have access to information that Caesar does not so we know that Caesar will be assassinated if he leaves for the Senate. Therefore, his statement that he is more powerful than danger itself and his bravado shows that he is set on leaving the house and this evokes a foreboding sense of dread in readers who know of the plot to kill Caesar.
Shakespeare develops the atmosphere from one of tension to one of absolute dread and trepidation. He does this by...