Alliteration in Julius Caesar

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Alliteration is a writing technique that helps make a passage more memorable. In this lesson, we will look at William Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar'' and explore several examples of alliteration in the play.

Alliteration Is All Around

Bed, Bath and Beyond. If you are familiar with this name, it may be partly to due to its alliteration. An alliteration is when words that begin with the same sound are lined up together or very close to one another. This technique makes writing more memorable and is used in advertising as well as literature. You can also find many examples of alliteration in team names. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers repeats the 'L' sound and the Boston Bruins repeats the 'B' sound. Just like advertisers and team names, Shakespeare makes use of alliterations in his play Julius Caesar.

Flavius and Murellus

'Hence! Home you idle creatures, get you home.' This is the first line from Julius Caesar, and it contains alliteration. In the opening scene, Flavius and Murellus, tribunes of Rome, are trying to clear out a group of people who have abandoned their work to celebrate their love for Caesar. When Flavius says 'Hence!' and 'home' in the same sentence, he creates alliteration by repeating the 'h' sound. Since this is the first line of the play, it must capture the audience's attention and convince them to listen. The use of alliteration helps achieve this goal.

As Flavius and Murellus continue to harass the celebrators, they zero in on one man. They ask him what his profession is, and he gives them a sarcastic answer. Murellus is not pleased with the sarcasm and asks again, saying 'What trade, though knave? Though naughty knave, what trade?' This alliteration is a good example of how the sounds can repeat without being spelled with the same letter. The 'n' sound is repeated in 'naughty knave' even thought 'knave' is spelled with 'kn.'

Brutus Quietly Considers his Conscience

In Act 2 Scene 1, Brutus is at home trying to convince himself that killing Caesar is the right thing to do. He talks aloud for a while and tells himself that even though Caesar is not dangerous yet, he will become dangerous if he is given power. Brutus draws on the similarities between snakes who come out in the daytime and people who are more aggressive after they become powerful. He tells himself 'It is the bright day that brings forth the adder / And that craves wary walking' Since the last two words of this sentence have the same 'w' sound, it is an example of alliteration.

Caesar the Snake

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