Julius Caesar | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Julius Caesar | Act 2, Scene 4 | Summary

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Summary

Portia asks the servant Lucius to go to the Senate and report back on Brutus and Caesar. She wants to know which men surround Caesar with requests, and how well Brutus looks, since he was sick that morning. She claims she's heard a rumor from the Capitol but doesn't reveal what it is.

Later Portia talks to the soothsayer. She asks the soothsayer about Caesar and whether there are any threats against him. The soothsayer says he doesn't know for sure, but he fears there might be. The soothsayer plans to find a place along the road where he can speak to Caesar as he passes by. After the soothsayer departs, Portia wishes for Brutus to have luck in his enterprise.

Analysis

From this scene the audience can tell Portia knows about the assassination plot. They don't know how she reacted to the news. But she's suddenly become more significant, even strategic. She knows her own presence, as a woman, might be unwelcome at the Capitol. But no one would think twice about seeing a servant boy.

Is she, like Artemidorus, trying to prevent events from unfolding? Or has she, like Caesar, accepted that fate is fate and she can't change anything? The audience isn't sure. She has a chance to ask the soothsayer to warn Caesar, but she doesn't do it (not directly, at least). The soothsayer seems to already know what will happen. These hints, combined with the scene with Artemidorus, might make the audience wonder how many Romans know Caesar is going to his death.

Portia's last lines reveal the depths of her caring for Brutus. Like her husband, she's a conflicted but good person at heart, and her devotion to principle will prove to be her undoing.

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