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Julius Caesar Summary in English by William Shakespeare
Julius Caesar Summary in English
Julius Caesar is the story of a man’s personal dilemma over moral action, set against a backdrop of strained political drama. Julius Caesar, an able general and a conqueror, returns to Rome amidst immense popularity after defeating the sons of Pompey. The people celebrate his victorious return and he is offered the crown by Mark Antony which he refuses. Jealous of Caesar’s growing power and afraid that he may one day become a dictator, Cassius instigates a conspiracy to murder Caesar.
He realises that in order to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the Romans, he must win over the noble Brutus to his side for Brutus is the most trusted and respected man in Rome. Brutus, the idealist, joins the conspiracy feeling everyone is driven by motives as honourable as his own. Ironically, Caesar is murdered at the foot of Pompey’s statue.
Julius Caesar Summary Questions and Answers
Answer the following questions by ticking the correct options.
(1) When Caesar says “Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace to-night ” he sounds ……………..
(2) Caesar’s reference to the senators as ‘graybeards ’ shows his …………….
(3) Decius Brutus changes Caesar’s mind about going to the Senate by appealing to his ……………
(4) The offer that Cassius makes to Antony after Caesar’s assassination is that ……………..
(c) his recommendations will be as strong as that of the conspirators while distributing the powers and benefits to friends
(5) Cassius tries to stop Brutus from letting Antony speak at Caesar’s funeral as he ………………
(d) knows Antony is a good orator who can sway the mob
(6) What prophecy does Antony make over Caesar’s dead body?
(b) Rome will experience fierce civil war in which many people will die
(7) After listening to Brutus ’ speech, the Third Citizen says ‘Let him be Caesar’. This clearly shows he ………………….
(d) thinks Brutus killed Caesar to assume power
(8) When Antony calls the conspirators‘honourable men’his tone is …………………
(9) Antony’s reference to Caesar’s conquest of the Nervii is to …………………..
(a) remind the mob of Caesar’s greatness as a warrior
(10) Antony’s remark Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!, shows him to be ………………….
(a) a ruthless manipulator
Answer the following questions briefly.
a. How do the heavens’blaze forth’the death of Julius Caesar?
The heavens sent omens foretelling a major calamity like Calpumia’s dream of Caesar being murdered, a lioness whelping in the streets, graves opening and dead bodies lying around, warriors fighting upon the clouds, and drizzling blood upon the Capitol, horses neighing, dying men groaning, ghosts shrieking about the streets.
b. What does Calpurnia try to convince Caesar of?
Calpumia tries to convince Caesar to remain home because she has had frightening dreams about Caesar’s death throughout the night.
c. Why does Calpumia say Caesar’s ‘wisdom is consumed in confidence ’? What does she mean?
Calpumia means that though Caesar is wise, he is over-confident. His wisdom is destroyed by his over-confidence.
d. What does Calpumia dream about Caesar? How does Decius Brutus interpret the dream?
Calpumia dreamt she saw Caesar’s statue spout blood like a fountain with a hundred spouts and Romans came smiling and dipped their hands in it. She saw the dream as a warning that danger was imminent. Decius Brutus interprets the dream as a lucky vision. He said it signified that from Caesar Rome shall imbibe fresh life and great men will earnestly desire relics marked, with his blood.
e. What are the arguments put forward by Decius Brutus to convince Caesar to go to the Capitol?
Decius flatters Caesar into disregarding the fears of his wife. He says that the senate has decided to offer a crown to Caesar that day and if he does not go they may change their minds and mock him for being afraid. They may say that the senate should be dismissed till Caesar’s wife has better dreams.
f. Why is Decius more successful than Calpumia in persuading Caesar?
Decius is more successful than Calpumia in persuading Caesar because he appeals to Caesar’s ambition and vanity. Caesar accompanies the conspirators to the Capitol and to his death.
g. What is the petition put before Caesar by the conspirators? How does Caesar respond to it?
‘ The conspirators want Caesar to recall the order of exile passed against Metellus Cimber’s brother, Publius. Caesar refuses to listen to them and change his mind.
h. Who says “Et tu Brute ”? When are these words spoken? Why?
Caesar says these words just after Brutus stabbed him. Caesar loved Brutus and could not believe Brutus would do such a deed.
i. In the moments following Caesar’s death what do the conspirators proclaim to justify Caesar’s death?
The conspirators proclaim that they killed Caesar to free Rome of him and to establish democracy— ‘Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement! ’
j. Seeing the body of Caesar, Antony is overcome by grief What does he say about Caesar?
Antony is saddened that the great conqueror Caesar is reduced to a dead body lying on a small piece of the ground. He expresses willingness to die at the conspirators’ hands while their hands and weapons are still warm with Caesar’s blood.
k. Whom does Antony call ‘the choice and master spirits of this age ”? Why?
Antony calls the conspirators—Brutus, Cassius and the others as ‘the choice and the master spirits of this age’. He is actually mocking them beneath his pretence of flattery.
l. How do Brutus and Cassius respond to Antony’s speech?
Brutus tells him not to beg for his death at their hands. He says that he killed Caesar for he loved Rome more than he loved his friend. Cassius, on the other hand, appeals to Antony’s greed and says that he will have a say in the new government.
m. Why does Cassius object to allowing Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral? How does Brutus overcome this objection?
Cassius fears Antony and his ability as an orator. Brutus says he will speak first and tell the citizens that Antony was speaking with their permission.
n. What are the conditions imposed by the conspirators before allowing Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral?
While speaking of Caesar’s greatness, Antony must not blame the conspirators for ‘murdering’ Caesar. He must also say that he has been permitted to speak at Caesar’s funeral by the conspirators. Moreover, he must speak from the same pulpit as Brutus.
o. When he is left alone with the body of Caesar what does Anthony call Brutus and the others?
Antony calls the conspirators butchers.
p. What prediction does Antony make regarding the future events in Rome?
Antony predicts that Italy will be cursed as civil war shall break out; bloodshed, destruction and dreadful sights will become so familiar that mothers shall smile when they see their infants killed in war, pity will be destroyed due to foul deeds becoming common. Caesar’s spirit shall roam about for revenge, dead bodies will be lying around rotting and stinking and there will be no one to accord them a decent burial.
q. What reasons does Brutus give for murdering Caesar?
Brutus says that Caesar was ambitious. Brutus loved Rome and the ideals and that Rome stands for more than just Caesar. He loved Caesar but he loved Rome more.
r. Who says, “Let him be Caesar”? What light does this throw on the speaker?
One of the citizens says this after Brutus’ speech. He has not understood the reasons Brutus has given for Caesar’s murder.
s. Why is Antony’s speech more effective?
Brutus’ straightforward appeal to logic and reason versus Antony’s appeal to emotion through the use of irony, sarcasm, reiteration, and figurative language, creating images in the listeners’ minds, is more effective.
t. At the end of the scene what is the fate of Brutus and Cassius?
Brutus and Cassius are attacked by the mob who rush to set fire to their houses.
Julius Caesar and Antony reveal something about their character in their words and actions. We also learn about them from what other people say. Can you pick out the words that describe them from the box given below? Also, pick out lines from the play to illustrate your choice.
In the play ‘Julius Caesar’, we meet the Roman mob. We find that as Brutus and Antony speak, the mob displays certain qualities and characteristics. 4
Given below are some characteristics of the mob. Complete the table by quoting the lines wherein these are revealed.
Antony employs a number of devices to produce the desired effect on the mob. These devices maybe described as rhetorical devices. He first speaks in such a manner that it seems to the mob that he is in full agreement with Brutus about Caesar. Then step by step he moves away from Brutus’ position, depicting Brutus as a villain and Caesar as a wronged man. Copy and complete the following table by showing how Antony builds the argument in Caesar’s favour.
|1. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.||Does not wish to eulogise Caesar|
|2. The noble Brutus
hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
|Seemingly agrees with|
|3. He hath brought many captives home to
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
|Narrates Caesar’s victories to turn the tide of opinion|
|4. O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong, Who, you all know, are honourable men:
|Obliquely hints at the fact that Cassius and Brutus are not honourable men but traitors and murderers|
|5. O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us.
O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar’s vesture wounded? Look you here, Here is himself, marr’d, as you see, with traitors.
|Convinces crowd of the innocence of Caesar by emotionally manipulating them|
|6. Here is the will, and under Caesar’s seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas
|Reads out the will of Caesar to prove his generosity and instigate the crowds against the conspirators even more|
Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:
1. Caesar 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.
a. Whom is Caesar speaking to? Why does1 he say these words?
Caesar is speaking to his wife Calpumia. He is responding to Calpumia’s fears about dangers that might befall Caesar if he stepped out of his home that day.
b. What fears has the listener expressed?
Calpumia is afraid of Caesar being murdered if he stepped out of his house that day.
c. What is the basis for the fears expressed?
Calpumia had a nightmare about Caesar’s death the previous night!
2. But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, ’tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament—
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read—
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds
a. Who speaks these words? Where is the speaker at this moment?
These words are spoken by Mark Antony. He was giving a speech on the pulpit at that moment.
b. What are the contents of Caesar’s will that he is referring to?
The contents of Caesar’ will were being eagerly anticipated by the crowd. To all Roman citizens Caesar had left seventy five drachmas, his walks, his private arbours, and newly planted orchards.
c. Why does the speaker read Caesar’s will to the citizens?
Mark Antony was trying to sway public opinion against the conspirators who killed Caesar. Reading out Caesar’s will would prove how generous Caesar was and the public would be further enraged at his brutal murder.
d. What is the reaction of the listeners to the reading of the will?
The listeners plan to bum Caesar’s body in the holy place and put fire to the traitors’ houses with the brands. They leave in anger, planning violence against the conspirators in all forms.