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Arrogant. Ambitious. Dictator. Dead. Shakespeare. These are all words you probably think about when you hear the name “Julius Caesar. ” Caesar was a perfect example of how ambition can corrupt someone, and Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar reflects that perfectly.
Throughout the play, Caesar shows his arrogance and ambition time and time again, which eventually leads to his downfall and death by dagger. One of the first times that Caesar clearly and plainly shows arrogance is in Act 2, Scene 2, when Calpurnia is trying to prevent Caesar from going to the senate meeting because she has received an omen in the form of a dream that he will die. Caesar says, “Caesar shall forth: the things that threaten’d me/ Ne’er look’d but on my back; when they shall see/The face of Caesar, they are vanished. ” In this, Caesar is being surprisingly cocky, basically saying that all his enemies can do is talk behind his back. This shows him acting as if he is untouchable, acting as if he were a god.
Another example of Caesar plainly showing arrogance is in Act 2, Scene 2, lines 43-50, when the servant comes back from the augurers with the news that they could not find a heart within the beast. Caesar says, “The gods do this in shame of cowardice. /Caesar should be a beast without a heart/If he should stay at home today for fear. /No, Caesar shall not. Danger knows full well/That Caesar is more dangerous than he. /We are two lions litter’d in one day, /And I am the elder and more terrible. /And Caesar shall go forth. ” In this Caesar is basically saying that the gods fear him, and that he is ‘the elder and more terrible” than Danger, and that he is more dangerous than Danger itself. This is showing arrogance because it reveals that he thinks that he is above everything else, that nothing is as great and as important as he is. The third time Caesar shows arrogance is in Act 3, scene 1, when Caesar refuses to pardon Publius Cimber. Caesar says, “I could well be moved, if I were as you:/If I could pray to move, prayers would move me:/But I am as constant as the Northern Star. ” This plainly shows his arrogance by showing that he sees himself as immovable and as a force of nature, and that nothing is as constant as he is.
The major line in which arrogance is most prominent is line 66. In line 66, Caesar compares himself to the Northern Star, and how it is always constant and there, and Caesar is basically saying that he will always be there and will not change, other than getting brighter. This gives the audience a glimpse of Caesar’s ambition, as it shows that Caesar thinks that he can only, and will only, become more and more powerful. Caesar first shows his great ambition in Act 2, Scene 2, lines 32-37, when Caesar says “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 most strange that men should fear/Seeing that death, a necessary end, /Will come when it will come. ” In this, Caesar is basically saying that, while he knows that death is inevitable, he is still going to go out and be the king/dictator he has always wanted to be. Of course, his arrogance gets in the way of this view and he completely forgets this concept. The second time Caesar shows his ambition is also in Act 2, Scene 2, on lines 98-111. Basically, Decius tells Caesar that the Senate plans to crown him today, which immediately changes Caesar’s mind about not going. This shows how much he wants the crown, showing that he will completely ignore all warning signs in his quest to rule.
Julius Caesar was perhaps one of the most ambitious men in history, and he almost took control of Rome. Unfortunately, his great ambition gave way to arrogance, which clouded his sight and prompted his political enemies to assassinate him. Overall, the “moral” of Julius Caesar is pretty much to keep your ambition in check, lest it destroy you in the long run.
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