Parallelism 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.

Parallelism is a literary techniques that writers use to help make information memorable and easier to understand. In this lesson, we will take a look at several examples of parallelism in William Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar.''

What is Parallelism?

I like going to the beach, playing video games and to run with my dog. Does that sentences feel a bit off to you? If so, you are probably picking up on the fact that it is not a parallel sentence. The last part of the sentences should say 'running with my dog.' That way, it sounds more in line with the other parts of the sentence, 'going to the beach' and 'playing video games.' By changing 'to run' to 'running', you would give all of the verbs in the sentence a similar grammatical structure, which is known as parallelism.

Parallelism isn't always just about grammar and making sentences sound smoother, however. It can also refer to sentences that repeat a certain phrase. 'It was the best of times, it was the worse of times' is another example pf parallelism in action. In literature, authors use parallel structure to create interesting and memorable passages.

Murellus Uses Parallelism

In act 1 scene 1 of Julius Caesar, the commoners are in the street celebrating Caesar's victory in battle. Two Roman officials enter the scene and try to break up the crowd. The officials are unhappy at how quickly the people have rushed to support Caesar. Until recently, they had all loved and supported the man Caesar recently defeated, Pompey. Murellus tells the people, 'Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, / Pray to the gods to intermit the plague.' This sentence contains parallel structure in its verbs.' Run,' 'fall' and 'pray' keep the sentence structure parallel and add to the intensity of the scene.

Cassius Attacks Caesar with Parallelism

Later in scene 2, a character named Cassius is attempting to convince Brutus to join a plot to murder Caesar. One of Cassius's chief arguments is that Caesar is no better than anyone else and does not deserve to be king anymore than Brutus. Cassius asks Brutus to consider 'what is in a name.' He further urges Brutus to 'Write them together, yours is as fair a name. / Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well. / Weigh them, it is as heavy. Conjure with 'em, / Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.'

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