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The Role Of Women In Julius Caesar

993 words - 4 pages

From the expansion days of Ancient Rome to the fall of the Roman Empire, women have always succumbed to living subjacent to the status of their omnipotent and dominant male figures. After leaving her childhood home and the rule of her father, a young Roman girl would then be coerced into the dominion of her husband, often taking a plethora of roles, ranging from lover, caretaker, and best friend. It is often lightheartedly stated that, “Behind every great man is an even greater woman,” and William Shakespeare exemplifies this concept beautifully in Julius Caesar, in which he effectively used the spouses of the two main characters to add more depth, drama, and literary elements to the play, bringing it to life. Although the only two female characters in Julius Caesar, Portia and Calpurnia do not play a pivotal role in the overall plot of the story, their presence is vital in illuminating and developing the characters of their husbands, Brutus and Caesar. What they reveal about their husbands leads the reader to infer that Portia is the more admirable and redeeming character.
Throughout Shakespeare’s various works, it has been observed that he rarely uses females in his literature, but when he does, he uses them for a distinct purpose, as is evident in Julius Caesar. By defying the societal standards of her gender and showing genuine interest in her husband’s thoughts and feelings, Portia, the wife of Brutus, reveals key aspects of his character while adding depth to the story. For her time, Portia was a woman who both respected herself and took pride in herself, without allowing society to make a mark on her. This is evident when she states, “Think you I am no stronger than my sex/ Being so father'd and so husbanded?" (Portia, II, i, 296-297). Refusing to allow her husband to see her as a mere “woman”, Portia visibly affirms her rights as a human being, demanding that her husband see her as his equal, and nothing inferior to him. Thus, she indicates that she can endure whatever Brutus has on his mind, and makes it known that she is definitely not the fragile feminine flower that Brutus and the rest of humanity distinguishes her as. Through this succinct line, Shakespeare allows the reader to recognize that Portia is not an ordinary woman, rather she is an intense and strong willed woman with deep devotion for her husband. One of Brutus’ most notable characteristics is his stoicism, which is clearly seen through instances regarding Portia, as illustrated through Act II, scene i, when he refuses to confide in Portia about the plans to kill Caesar, and when Brutus utters, “Why farewell Portia,” (Brutus, IV, iii, 189) in regards to her death. Brutus’ stoicism impinges on their relationship, because he confines his secrets from her, and towards her death, he allows the audience to gain insight of his true character: the neglect...

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