Julius Caesar's Death Scene Summary

Instructor: Jennifer Mallett Smith

Jennifer has taught high school English for eight years and has a master's degree in curriculum and assessment.

This lesson will provide an analysis of the death scene in William Shakespeare's play, ''The Tragedy of Julius Caesar'' by providing a summary of the event and the significance of key lines.

'Don't go to the Capitol!'

We have all been angry with a character in a suspenseful movie. In Gremlins, the famous 1980's film, the main characters are warned not to feed their new pet after midnight or get him wet. They do it anyway, despite the warnings of the Chinese salesman, and a group of murderous little creatures wreaks havoc on the people of their city.

In the play, Julius Caesar, we experience the same emotions. Caesar refuses to hear the warnings of others and goes to the capitol, which results in his murder.

Caesar's Death as a Climax

The death of Caesar in Act III, Scene 1, is the climax, or turning point of the play. Until this point, the play has established the characters' reasons for killing Caesar; they are convinced that he will change and become a tyrant with his new crowning. The events leading to Caesar's death are suspenseful and tense as the players plot and carry out his murder.

The resolution of the play is when Brutus and Cassius battle against Octavius and Antony and die because of the murder of their king. Brutus takes his own life because he realizes that he made a mistake in murdering Caesar, despite his honorable intentions.

Pride and Caesar's Demise

There are several warnings to Caesar that, had he paid attention to them, would have foiled the conspirators' plans.

The element of suspense is heightened when Caesar is warned by a soothsayer to 'Beware the ides of March.' Caesar's confidence in his decision is shown when he passes by the soothsayer on his way to the capitol and gloats that it is the ides of March. The soothsayer replies that the day is not complete.

Earlier in the play, Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, has had a dream that the senators were bathing in Caesar's blood. Caesar's pride led to his demise because he feared that others would find him weak if he stayed home at his wife's request or if he listened to the warnings of soothsayers.

Both premonitions come true. Caesar is indeed killed on the 15th of March, and Brutus asks the co-conspirators to bathe their hands in Caesar's blood after he has been murdered: 'Stoop, Romans, stoop, and let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood.' Caesar did not heed the warnings and suffered dearly for it.

Publius Cimber

On the planned day of murder, the conspirators have used their support of a pardon of Publius Cimber as an excuse to get close to Caesar. Though it is not clear why Cimber is banished, we know that it is a lawful decree. This is important because the other senators are urging Caesar to lift the ban, but he is staying true to the law and ridiculing them for it: 'I must prevent thee, Cimber. These couchings and these lowly courtesies might fire the blood of ordinary men, and turn preordinance and first decree into the law of children.'

This makes Caesar unlikable as he mocks the senators, but it also shows that he is staying true to his laws, despite the persuasion of others - a desirable trait in a ruler.

Unfortunately, for Caesar, the pardoning of Cimber was a trap. The senators close in and stab him. He only says one line while dying: 'Et tu, Brute? - Then fall Caesar.' When he sees that his honorable friend wishes him dead, he accepts it because he feels that Brutus makes the best decisions for Rome. Of course, when we finish the play, we find out that Brutus is aware that he has not made the best decision for the country.

Death Scene Caesar

Freedom from 'Tyranny'

When Caesar dies, Cinna cries: 'Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!' This is an interesting line because the country was already free from tyranny. The conspirators only suspected that tyranny would come about later as Caesar ruled for a long period of time.

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