TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS (SOLVED)
6. Answer the following questions briefly.
(a) How do the heavens ‘blaze forth’ the death of Julius Caesar? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Calpurnia sees ill-omens that predict the death of Caesar beforehand. The heavens predict the death of princes and great kings. There were fierce battles, blood rained, ghosts were seen, graves opened up, battle cries were heard. All this signalled that someone as powerful as Caesar was bound to suffer.
(b) What does Calpurnia convince Caesar of?
Ans. She convinces Caesar to avoid going to the senate. She believed that Caesar would be safe if he stays at home.
(c) Why does Calpurnia say Caesar’s ‘wisdom is consumed in confidence?’ What does it mean?
Ans. When Caesar is adamant about going to the senate, Calpurnia dissuades him. But Caesar believes that ill-omens are for the weak and not for the mighty like him. Then Calpurnia says that Caesar’s over confidence has clouded his wisdom. He was so confident that he refused to see reason nor understood the indication behind the illomens.
(d) What was Calpurnia’s dream? How was it interpreted by Decius Brutus? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Calpurnia sees a terrifying dream in which Caesar is murdered, his statue is gushing blood and many smiling Romans are bathing their hands in his blood. Calpurnia was not superstitious but earlier in the night she had a nightmare comprising the dead man walking about. She felt that the dream was a premonition of the evil that was going to befall Caesar. So she forbids Caesar to go to the Senate. But Decius cleverly interprets it positively. He says that the vision of Romans bathing in Caesar’s blood signifies that Caesar’s spirit or influence will touch many lives; staining their handkerchieves in Caesar’s blood indicates reverence, dedication and a token of memory on part of the Romans.
(e) What arguments did Brutus and other conspirators give to justify the killing of Caesar? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Julius Caesar is an able general and a mighty conqueror who has brought great glory to Rome. It is believed by many that Caeser is too ambitious and would one day be the Roman emperor and a dictator. Jealous of Caesar’s growing power, Cassius instigates a conspirary to murder Caesar. The conspirators were unhappy with Caesar’s obstinacy and egoistic behaviour. Cassius was jealous of Caesar’s soaring power and popularity. According to Cassius, Caesar was a tyrant who wanted to treat the Romans as slaves and that Roman liberty and democracy were under threat from Caesar. Brutus stabbed Caesar because he was an idealist and believed that ambition and tyranny should be nipped in the bud but Cassius killed Caesar because he wanted to be a part of the Roman triumvirate.
(f) Why is Decius more successful than Calpurnia in persuading Caesar? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Decius interprets Calpurnia’s dream as a fair and fortunate vision. He says that the vision of Romans bathing in Caesar’s blood signifies Caesar’s spirit or influence will increase manifold. Basically he boosts Caesar’s ego, flatters his greatness and might and makes him feel more powerful. So Caesar is happier with his version.
(g) What is the petition put before Caesar by the conspirators? How does Caesar respond to it?
Ans. The conspirators want Caesar to pardon PubliusCimber and recall the order of his banishment. Caesar refuses the request and says that his order cannot be changed and he will stick to his decision.
(h) Who says ‘Ete tu Brute’? When and why?
Ans. Caesar utters these words which mean, “you too, Brutus”. These are uttered when Brutus stabs Caesar and Caesar is too hurt to see that even his dear friend Brutus could resort to such treachery.
(i) In the moments following Caesar’s death, how do the conspirators proclaim to justify Caesar’s death? [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. The conspirators wish to justify Caesar’s death by announcing their love and loyalty to Rome. They say that Caesar was very ambitious and Romans would have become slaves under his autocratic rule. According to Brutus, Caesar was a tyrant and Roman liberty and democracy was under threat and Caesar wished to become an Emperor.
(j) What does Antony say after Caesar’s death, when he sees the body of Caesar?
Ans. Antony apologises to Caesar’s body for being meek and gentle with his murderers. He curses the hands that killed such a noble man. He also requests them to kill him for he cannot tolarate Caesar’s death.
(k) How do Brutus and Cassius respond to Antony’s speech?
Ans. Both Brutus and Cassius request Antony not to plead for his own death. They offer him authority and good position and ask for his support in the murder of Caesar.
(l) Whom does Antony call “the choice and master spirits of this age.” Why?
Ans. Antony calls Brutus and Cassius the most powerful people after Caesar’s death; they have all the power. Moreover, he wants to flatter their ego, to pretend that he is not against them.
(m) How do Brutus and Cassius respond to Antony’s request for giving a speech? What are the conditions imposed by them.
Ans. Cassius is very much against Antony’s idea of speech but Brutus feels that no harm can befall him and others with just a speech. Brutus says that he will give a speech first and justify Caesar’s death so there will not be a problem, if Antony delivers his speech later. Moreover Antony is had agreed to deliver the speech from the same platform and not talk against them.
(n) When he is left alone with the body of Caesar what does Antony call Brutus and others?
Ans. Antony curses the murderers and he seeks forgiveness for being polite to them. He calls them ‘butchers’ who killed the noblest of men.
(o) What prediction does Antony make regarding the future events in Rome?
Ans. Antony prophesies that Rome will be ravaged with civil war, violence and extreme blood shed will leave the earth full of dead bodies. Goddess of revenge will descend on earth with Caesar’s spirit and the stench of dead bodies will fill the earth.
(p) Who says “let him be Caesar”? What light does this throw on the speaker?
Ans. The 3rd citizen says this. This statement reflects the vulnerability of the mob who believe, whatever is told to them. They say that Brutus should be put in place of Caesar, after being impressed by his speech. Later they turn towards Mark Antony and are ready to kill Brutus and others.
Q7. 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.
Extract from play
What it tells us about the character
1. 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.
arrogant over confident
2. Cowards die many times before their deaths
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes
3. We are two lions littered in a day
And I the elder and more tenible
4. Thy brother by decree is banished
If thou dost bend and pray and fawrn for him
5. She dreamt tonight she saw my statue
Which, like a fountain with a hundred spouts
Did run pure blood
6. No, Caesar shall not; danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he
1. Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world
2. Produce his body to the market place
And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend
Speak in the order of his funeral
3. Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood
Over thy wounds now do I prophecy
A curse shall light the limbs of men
4. I come here to bury Caeser, not to praise him
The evil that men do lives after them .... And Brutus is an honourable man
5. Kind souls, what weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar’s vesture wounded? Look you here.
Here is himself, marred, as you see, with trailers.
8. 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.
Given below are some characteristics of the mob. Complete the table by quoting the lines wherein these are revealed.
Words actions of the mob
1. The mob first believes Brutus that Caesar was ambitious and later believes Antony.
Foolish, fickle, easily manipulated
2. They forget Caesar’s achievements
Does not understand the ideals of democracy
3. Give him a statue with our ancestors Let him be Caesar
4. Read the will, the testament They are happy to know that Caesar left them money
5. Me thinks there is much ieason in his saying Caesar has had great wrong
6. We will be revenged Seek 'Burn! Fire! kill! slay!
9. Antony employs a number of devices to produce the desired effect on the mob. These devices may be 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 anser’d it.
Seemingly agrees with Brutus
3. I thrice presented him the crown, he refused it
Yet Brutus says that he was ambitious
Pretends to say that Caesar was ambitious
4. I rather choose to wrong the dead and you
Then I will wrong such honourable men
He does not intend to wrong Irony
Brutus and Cassius
5. If Brutus so unkindly knocked, or no
For Brutus was Caesar’s angel
Brutus was greatly loved by Caesar (flints at his treachery) manipulative
SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
1. “What can be avoided
Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods.”
The above statement reflects Caesar’s dignity and
wisdom that the hour of death cannot be averted
and is decided by God.
Keeping the above statement in mind, discuss the circumstances that led to Caesar’s death.
Ans. Caesar is fearless, valiant and believes that the fixed hour of death decided by heavens cannot be averted. This proves true in his case. He is persuaded by Calpurnia to avoid going to the Senate due to ill-omens. Caesar had nearly succumbed to Calpurnia’s entreaties, but Decius Brutus ignites Caesar’s pride, vanity and overconfidence proves to be his failing. Despite the premonitions, he proceeds towards the Senate. He haughtily rejects the petition of Metellus Cimber to revoke his brother’s banishment. The conspirators are ready to kill Caesar. Casca is the first one to stab Caesar, followed by Brutus and others.
Q2. What characteristics are displayed by the Roman mob in the play? Discuss how the mob changes the fate of the main characters of the play?
Ans. Mob is of strategic importance in the plays of Shakespeare. It gives us a deep insight of the main characters and is instrumental in turning the tide of events. The mob is full of hero worship. They glorify Caesar when he brings victory and fills the coffers of Rome. They rejoice in his honour, worship him and put him on a pedestal as a hero. But the commoners are too gullible, very easily swayed and exhibit ‘herd-mentality.’ When Brutus convinces them that Caesar’s murder was justified in the interest of Rome, they believe him, but when Mark Antony plays on their emotions, they rise in mutiny. They are overwhelmed to hear of Caesar’s will and cause heavy destruction. So mob can turn the tide, depending upon who proves to be clever to exploit it to his advantage.
Q3. Compare and contrast the characters of Brutus and Mark Antony. [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Brutus is a powerful public figure, a dignified military leader and a loving friend. The conflicting value systems that battle with each other, in the play, are enacted on a micro level in Brutus’ mind. Even after the murder of Caesar has been committed, questions remain whether it was a noble, selfless act or failure of a great nobleman and friend.
Brutus’ rigid idealism is both his greatest virtue and his most deadly flaw. He lives up to Antony’s elegiac description as ‘the noblest of Romans.’ His commitment to principles leads him to miscalculations: wanting to curtail violence, he ignores Cassius’ advice and does not kill Antony as well. In another moment of naive idealism, he allows Antony to give his funeral oration over Caesar’s body. So he forfeits the authority of having the last word on the murder and allows Antony to incite the plebeians to riot against him. He later endangers his good relationship with Cassius by self-righteously condemning the fundraising tactics.
So Brutus acts out of a desire to limit the selfserving aspects of his actions, ironically in each incident he dooms the very cause, he seeks to promote, thus serving no one.
Q4. How was Antony successful in instigating the people of Rome against the conspirators?
Antony displays lot of maturity in the way he befriends the conspirators in order to average Caesar’s death. Explain. [C.B.S.E. 2012 (T-2)]
Ans. Mark Antony is a clever statesman and a good friend of Caesar. He is foresighted enough to judge that Brutus is a famous public figure and has already won the approval of the plebeians, instead of censure, after killing Caesar. Now it is upto him to turn the tide, which threatens to flow on the side of the conspirators.
Antony proves strong in all the ways while Brutus proves weak. His impulsive, improvisatory nature serves him perfectly to persuade the conspirators that he is on their side, thus gaining leniency. Throughout his speech, he keeps repeating, ‘Brutus is an honorable man.’ “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him,” whereas he does just the opposite. He is able to persuade the plebeians of the conspirators’ injustice and gains mass support. He contradicts the charges of Brutus that Caesar was ambitious by pointing out that Caesar had refused the crown twice, had filled the coffers of Rome and wept for all Romans.
Not too scrupulous to stoop to deceit and duplicity, as Brutus claims to be, Antony proves himself to be a consummate politician, using gestures and rhetoric to his advantage. He graphically displays all the stabs, Brutus and others have inflicted on Caesar’s body and uses Caesar’s body to exploit the plebeians emotionally. He responds to subtle cues, tailors his words very deftly and uses the most appropriate actions to incite the people. He deliberately thrusts the words ‘mutiny’ and ‘riot’ at them and gets the desired results.
Unlike Brutus, who prides himself on solely acting with respect to virtue and blinding himself to his personal concerns. Antony never separates his private affairs from his public actions. So Antony’s eulogy at Caesar’s funeral is a master-stoke, and the mention of Caesar’s will that leaves money and his property for all Romans, acts as the final nail in the coffin of the conspirators. So Antony’s speech is a combination of wit, irony, sarcasm, pathos and satire.