Aside Examples from 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.

If you are reading William Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar'', you may have seen the word 'aside'. This is special direction for the speaker and can serve many interesting purposes. In this lesson, we will take a look at exactly what it means, and why it is important.


If you have ever been hanging out with friends and someone whispers, you may have noticed that the whisper has some interesting effects. For example, if you are the receiver of the whisper, you may strain to hear what is being said. If you are being excluded from the whisper, you may wonder why. While an aside does not have to be whispered, it has similar effects. An aside is only for the audience to hear. Sometimes an aside is meant for another character as well as the audience.

Trebonius' Aside

In Act 2, Scene 2, Trebonius and the other conspirators are gearing up for their assassination of Caesar. They are with Caesar when he tells Trebonius, Cinna and Metellus to stay near him because he has something to speak with them about. If they stay near him, then he won't forget to have this discussion. As soon as Caesar asks them to stay close, Trebonius says ''Caesar, I will.'' Then, to himself, he says ''and so near will I be, That your best friends shall wish I had been further . '' In other words, Trebonius is going to make him (and the people he who love him) regret asking him to stay close. Because he says this to himself, it is an aside. Only he and the audience are meant to hear it. Since Trebonius obviously doesn't want Caesar to know of his sinister plans, he says it in an aside.

Brutus' Aside

After Trebonius' aside, Caesar tells his companions that they should go have some wine together. He tells them that ''We, like friends, will straightway go together.'' Brutus responds to this in an aside, saying ''That every like is not the same, O Caesar, The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon!'' Translated into modern day language, Brutus is saying that it hurts his heart to think that they are only ''like friends.'' This plays on Caesar's own words that they will go ''like friends'' to drink. As with Trebonius' aside, Brutus cannot reveal these thoughts to Caesar without blowing his cover. At the same time, the aside makes it clear to the audience that Brutus is suffering and depressed about his role in the conspiracy.

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