English 2HP 1
Throughout the entire civilized western world, we’ve come to acknowledge the right that no man or woman is greater than the next. However, this is a fairly early belief which existed even during the Elizabethan period, when Shakespeare wrote various different plays, such as Julius Caesar, where William Shakespeare places very few female characters. Contrary belief states that Julius Caesar was akin to all other Shakespearean plays in that it should be known as a play without women. However, Julius Caesar cannot be considered a play without women because the two women roles in the play, Calphurnia and Portia, provide suspense for the story, act as supporting characters, and because they often foreshadow the future.
Julius Caesar cannot be viewed as a play without women due to Calphurnia and Portia’s role of providing suspense to the Audience. Calphurnia’s first role into the story is when Caesar is debating whether to go or not to the Senate house. Calphurnia tries to convince Caesar not to go to the senate house as a result of a series of supernatural occurrences which Calphurnia takes as a bad omen for Caesar to stay in the house. Calphurnia hears that there have been horrid sights on the streets of Rome and even has a dream where, according to Caesar, “she saw my statue / Which, like a fountain with a hundred spouts/ Did run pure blood. And many lusty Romans came / Smiling and did bathe their hands in it./ And these does she apply for warnings and portents/ And evils imminent”. (Act II. Ii. 77-85) Due to Calphurnia’s trials and constant tidings of omens foreshadowing Caesar’s death, the reader gains a sense of suspense by being drawn into the dispute between whether Caesar will save himself through Calphurnia’s warnings or whether the conspirators will kill Caesar. Portia also adds to the suspense when she realizes that something isn’t right because she knows that Brutus knows that his “petition” will not be answered. She sends her slave, who understands not what to do, and yet Portia gives off a faint signal as though as if she will be able to stop something. She understands that something is horribly wrong and realization of this situation and her confusion reflects the audience’s anxiety at what the outcome will be, and in turn intensities the audience’s suspense.
The women in Julius Caesar play a huge part in the play because they act as supporting characters through their positions as bringers of Enlightenment. They support the main characters by abiding their commands, while also giving advising what to do. The women characters often provide advice that contains wisdom beyond the perspective of the main characters. For example, Portia supports Brutus because she shows how much she loves him while showing the audience that Brutus’s actions are completely turned upside-down because of the plot to murder Caesar. She notices that Brutus cannot and does not sleep, nor does he eat. Portia also cannot be categorized as an in-significant character in the play because she is the purity that Brutus looks to in the midst of his dark deeds. Calphurnia provides support for Caesar when she tries to prevent Caesar from going into the senate house. In this way, she displays her wisdom to the audience, though Caesar does not take heed of her warnings. However, because of Calphurnia’s warnings, Caesar has at least a moment of hesitation before going out to the senate house, where he is then murdered. It can also be said that for a character to be considered a “major” character in a play, one has to portray his own opinions and emotions toward the audience. In Julius Caesar, we clearly see that the women characters bring out their