Julius Caesar – Foreshadowing
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How Shakespeare Utilizes Foreshadowing to Determine the Fate of Characters In William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” the characters all foreshadowed their own deaths. Whether it is in what they see, what they do or what they hear, their deaths are all foreseen. Brutus, Caesar and Antony’s deaths in particular are all foreshadowed and that is what this essay is about. At some point in the play they see things pointing to their deaths and don’t acknowledge them. By the end of the play they pay the price for being so naïve. The first character that I am going to explain how he foreshadowed his death is Brutus. He was a part of the conspiracy against Caesar. He only joined the conspiracy because Cassius had convinced him that Caesar would make a bad leader and that he would make a better one.
While talking to Cassius he says, “For let the gods so speed me as I love The name of honour more than I fear death.” (Brutus, Act 1/2 Ln 88-89) this quote means that he was willing to do anything in order to have the throne. He was even willing to kill his best friend, Caesar, for the sake of Rome. “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” (Brutus, Act 3/2 Ln 21-22) this is another one of his quotes. This was one of his reasons for killing Caesar. The quote means that he did love Caesar very much, but he felt that if Caesar was put into power that he would not be a good ruler. He loved Rome more, so he had to kill Caesar. The next character I will explain how he foreshadowed his own death is Antony. Caesar is the first person to foreshadow his death when he says, “And in their steads do ravens, crows and kites
Fly o’er our heads and downward look on us
As we were sickly prey: their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost” (Caesar, Act 5/1 Ln 84-88) This quote foreshadows his death in a very subtle way. Caesar is saying that, that morning the crows were looking down on them as if they were prey and that their shadows looked like deadly canopies. Canopies were fatal and that meant their army was going to “give up their ghost” , in other words they would die and Antony was a part of the army in Rome.
The final character that’s death was foreshadowed in the play is Julius Caesar himself. He was a smart man and very courageous as we learn at the beginning of the play. There are many quotes he said that foreshadowed his death in the play, but I am only going to cover a couple of them. One quote that foreshadows his death is when he says, “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look: He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.” (Caesar, Act1/2 Ln: 194-195) This quote shows that Caesar already does not trust Cassius because he seems very suspicious. Even though he does not trust Cassius he does nothing about it and he will later suffer the consequence of death, when Cassius plots a conspiracy against him. Another thing that he says foreshadowing his own death is, “Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me the most strange that men fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.” (Caesar, Act 2/2 Ln 32-37)
This quote shows us Caesar’s theory as to why he does not fear death. What he is saying is that many people are scared of death as if being scared will somehow stop it from happening, but he does not see it the way they do. He does not fear death because he knows that no matter what he is destined to die eventually. This quote was said the day before he died, as if he wanted people to know he was not afraid of death, like he knew there was a conspiracy plotted against him. This play was written in a Shakespearean code and hopefully this essay helped decode it. Caesar, Brutus and Antony all subliminally knew about their deaths to come, but it just wasn’t quite obvious to them. If they had known that they would die that day I wonder what would have been different in the story.