Foreshadowing in Julius Caesar

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  • 0:02 Give Readers a Hint
  • 0:39 Caesar's Statue
  • 1:17 The Soothsayer
  • 1:44 Calpurnia's Dream
  • 2:18 Brutus and Cassius are Warned
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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.

Foreshadowing is a tool used by writers to make their writing more interesting. In this lesson, we'll take a look at how William Shakespeare used foreshadowing in his tragedy 'Julius Caesar'.

Give Readers a Hint

Imagine you are writing a story about a young shy child who grows up to be an outspoken leader. If you include a paragraph or two about a flower growing up strong and blooming, it may be seen as foreshadowing the future of the young shy child. The blooming and growth of the flower are similar to the blooming and growth of the character.

Foreshadowing is when a writer gives hints about what will happen later in the story. Foreshadowing makes writing more interesting and helps avoid disappointment by suggesting that certain events are coming. Throughout Julius Caesar there are many examples of foreshadowing.

Caesar's Statue

One of the first examples of foreshadowing in Julius Caesar is in Act 1, Scene 1 when two Roman tribunes, a type of official, named Flavius and Marrulus decide to pull decorations off of Caesar's statues. The tribunes are angry that the commoners are celebrating Caesar and believe that the celebrations will go to Caesar's head.

Flavius says 'These growing feathers pluck'd from Caesar's wing. Will make him fly an ordinary pitch. Who else would soar above the view of men.' The idea of taking Caesar down and stopping him from flying foreshadows the conspiracy to kill him.

The Soothsayer

Another example of foreshadowing is in Act 1, Scene 2, when a soothsayer, a person who can see the future, shouts out to Caesar to beware of the 15th of March. 'Beware the ides of March' shouts the soothsayer. Caesar calls the soothsayer forward and asks him to repeat himself. The soothsayer tells him again to beware of the ides of March. Caesar decides to ignore this warning and is killed on the 15th of March.

Calpurnia's Dream

Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, has a hand in foreshadowing in the play. The night before Caesar is killed, she dreams that a statue of Caesar has been stabbed a hundred times. In her dream, the statue is bleeding, the blood, 'In which so many smiling Romans bathed, Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck. Reviving blood, and that great men shall press.' She tries to warn him 'Do not go forth today', but very soon after, Caesar is stabbed by the conspirators. Calpurnia's dream hints very directly at what is to come.

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