Casca enters with his sword drawn and his fright is

This preview shows page 60 - 61 out of 216 pages.

Casca enters with his sword drawn and his fright is apparent as he encounters Cicero. Second only to Caesar, Marcus Tullius Cicero, born in 106 B.C., was the most important man in Rome. Highly educated in Greece, Cicero became Rome’s most promi- nent lawyer and orator. Despite his excellent reputation and acclaimed achievements, Cicero was feared by Julius Caesar who made things so difficult for Cicero in Rome that he was driven out of Italy in 59 B.C. Cicero joined forces with Pompey, but when it became clear that Pompey was going to be defeated, Cicero pleaded for mercy from Caesar, and as was his habit, Caesar pardoned Cicero. Cicero returned to Rome and to the Senate, where he remained publicly neutral to Caesar’s reforms 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 the scenery and suggest the sounds of thunder and light- ning. Elizabethan stagehands were not without a cer- tain amount of clever inventiveness, however, and some sound 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 effect of lightning could be contrived by blowing rosin through a candle flame to create a bright flash of fire. Shakespeare, like many other writers, uses storms to create a mood of darkness and foreboding, but here he takes the image one step further. The turmoil of the heavens is directly representative of the turmoil pres- ent in the state and in the minds of men. The raging storm, coupled with the eerie sights that Casca describes, are signs of disharmony in heaven and on earth. Signs and omens, by their very nature, are meant to be interpreted and the misinterpretation and manip- ulation of signs and omens become important thematic issues in Julius Caesar . The ambiguities present in the people and the events of this play are underscored as Cicero points out to Casca, “men may construe things after their fashion / Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.” Casca, dismayed by the storm, suggests that there is either civil strife in heaven or the gods are angry at the deeds of men. He fears that the gods do not approve of what the conspirators are planning to do and feels that the omens bode only evil and misfortune. Cas- sius, on the other hand, feels that the storm and the omens are signs that the gods are angry at Caesar’s tyranny. In the face of the irate heavens, Casca loses his use of sarcastic prose and begins to speak in blank verse. The imagery of the storm as Casca describes it in lines 3–11 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 to refuse the crown. Casca speaks of the “ambitious ocean” that will “swell and rage and foam.” The picture that he draws is reminiscent of an ambitious tyrant, whose ego is swelled by his power, one who rages at

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture