100%(2)2 out of 2 people found this document helpful
This preview shows page 60 - 61 out of 216 pages.
Casca enters with his sword drawn and his fright isapparent as he encounters Cicero.Second only to Caesar, Marcus Tullius Cicero, bornin 106 B.C., was the most important man in Rome. Highlyeducated in Greece, Cicero became Rome’s most promi-nent lawyer and orator. Despite his excellent reputationand acclaimed achievements, Cicero was feared byJulius Caesar who made things so difficult for Cicero inRome that he was driven out of Italy in 59 B.C. Cicerojoined forces with Pompey, but when it became clearthat Pompey was going to be defeated, Cicero pleadedfor mercy from Caesar, and as was his habit, Caesarpardoned Cicero. Cicero returned to Rome and to theSenate, where he remained publicly neutral to Caesar’sreforms of the government.Unlike our modern theatres, with computerized spe-cial effects and state of the art sound systems, the Eliz-abethan theatre relied mainly on words to paint thescenery and suggest the sounds of thunder and light-ning. Elizabethan stagehands were not without a cer-tain amount of clever inventiveness, however, and somesound and lighting effects could be created. For exam-ple, beating drums or rolling large round bullets back-stage often produced the sound of thunder. The effectof lightning could be contrived by blowing rosin througha candle flame to create a bright flash of fire.Shakespeare, like many other writers, uses stormsto create a mood of darkness and foreboding, but herehe takes the image one step further. The turmoil of theheavens is directly representative of the turmoil pres-ent in the state and in the minds of men. The ragingstorm, coupled with the eerie sights that Cascadescribes, are signs of disharmony in heaven and onearth. Signs and omens, by their very nature, are meantto be interpreted and the misinterpretation and manip-ulation of signs and omens become important thematicissues in Julius Caesar. The ambiguities present in thepeople and the events of this play are underscored asCicero points out to Casca, “men may construe thingsafter their fashion / Clean from the purpose of the thingsthemselves.” Casca, dismayed by the storm, suggeststhat there is either civil strife in heaven or the gods areangry at the deeds of men. He fears that the gods do notapprove of what the conspirators are planning to do andfeels that the omens bode only evil and misfortune. Cas-sius, on the other hand, feels that the storm and theomens are signs that the gods are angry at Caesar’styranny.In the face of the irate heavens, Casca loses his useof sarcastic prose and begins to speak in blank verse.The imagery of the storm as Casca describes it in lines3–11 is infused with metaphorical references to Caesar.He speaks of the earth that “shakes like a thing infirm”just as the epileptic Caesar shook when he had torefuse the crown. Casca speaks of the “ambitiousocean” that will “swell and rage and foam.” The picturethat he draws is reminiscent of an ambitious tyrant,whose ego is swelled by his power, one who rages at