Adv. English II
October 22, 2012
Yin and Yang The key to having a fulfilling existence is balancing all areas of life . Just look back into history, anyone too fanatic about their cause ended in destruction. Malcom X was crazy about violence, and he was shot to death. Mahatma Ghandi, with good intentions, was an extremist in his fight for Indian independence, and he was assassinated. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare showcases this need for balance. Extremism in any aspect of life leads to destruction.
There is a delicate balance between the public and private aspects of one’s life. Caesar is a prime example of the neglect of personal thoughts and feelings. On the day that Caesar is supposed to accept his crown, his wife, Calpurnia, has a negative prophetic dream about him. At first he decides to stay home but is later convinced by his friend, Decius, that he should go anyway. When he arrives he finds Artemidorus waiting for him outside with a letter. Artemidorus says “Hail, Caesar! Read this schedule.” Caesar replies with “What touches us ourself shall be last served.” (Act III scene 1, Line 3). Essentially he is telling his friend that whatever pertains to himself is the least of his concerns. He begins to believe that his strong public persona will serve as protection of his weak, vulnerable private thoughts and feelings. Leaving no time for one’s private life leads to disaster. Rigid, inflexible people usually have good intentions. Even with these good intentions, it is easy to get swept away and lose grip of the situation. When Brutus and Cassius are together on the Feast of Lupercal, they speak about Caesar being crowned king. Brutus admits that he is wary of the idea, and Cassius jumps at the chance to include Brutus in the conspiracy. Brutus tells Cassius, “If it be aught toward the general good,/ Set honor in one eye and death i' th' other,/ And I will look on both indifferently,/ For let the gods so speed me as I love/ The name of honor more than I fear death.” (Act I scene 2, Line 86-91) In the play, characters succeed by bargain and compromise. Brutus is so absorbed in the reasoning and purpose of the murder of Caesar, that he does not realize the impact that it will make on the community. Like in any political setting, it is important to think about the maneuvering it takes to justify any cause. Cassius knows that Brutus’s strict ideals will make it easy to sway him into the conspiracy. Brutus’s intentions are good, but he does not think about how the public will interpret his actions. Inflexibility and rigidness without compromise leave people open for failure and manipulation.
The play screams dramatic irony when Caesar ignores the signs, prophecies and omens of his coming death. The audience knows from history that Caesar does in fact die, and we squirm in our seats when he ignores his wife’s dream. Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia tells him about a dream foreshadowing his death. He tells her “Seeing that death, a necessary end,/ Will come when it will come” (Act II scene 2, Line 36-37.) Caesar believes