The Play “Julius Caesar”

In the play “Julius Caesar”, the author William Shakespeare incorporates the role of superstitions, omens, and the theme of fate. Julius Caesar is a military leader who wants to be the king of Rome. Throughout the play, Julius Caesar makes wrong decisions which leads to him being assassinated midway through the play. Shakespeare incorporates omens, the theme of fate, and superstitions to develop the story of Julius Caesar.

An omen is a phenomenon. Some believe that omens were a message from ancient Gods to tell the future or to give warnings. Shakespeare uses the plot device of omens to help build dramatic tension in the play and to let Julius Caesar determine his own fate. In the play things like lions, birds, storms, bad dreams, ghosts, and fortune tellers warnings appear as omens. Julius Caesar encounters many omens, one being Calpurniua’s dream. Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, tells him about how she had a dream and saw his statue with holes that poured blood. She then explains how people of Rome stood there smiling bathing their hands in his blood. Calpurnia thought of the dream as a warning from heaven. She begs Caesar not to go to the senate but he refuses to listen to the omen and goes anyway. By making this decision Caesar ends up being assassinated. Julius Caesar’s refusal to listen to omens, is what determines Caesar’s fate.

Another very important theme in Julius Caesar was Fate. William Shakespeare uses the theme of fate to make the play a tragedy. If Caesar would have had traditional beliefs of fate he would have listened to the warnings from Calpurnia and others and not have gone to the senate. Caesar feels as though he can put off fate. He begins to be overly confident in himself and ignores every warning he is given. Caesar’s ignorance seals his fate from then on. If the warnings about the Ides of March would have been taken more seriously by Caesar he would still be alive. In Act 2 Scene 2, after Calpurnia tells Caesar about her dream he says, “It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come” (Lines 35-37). This shows that Caesar really believes that his fate is out of his control. If Julius Caesar had read the warnings correctly, or acknowledged them at all, his fate would be completely different.

William Shakespeare uses superstitions to affect the plot and the characters throughout the play. In Julius Caesar, superstitious feelings within the characters changes how they feel about life, death, and revenge. Superstition in the play is used to foreshadow Caesar’s death. In Act 1 Scene 2, when the soothsayer cries out to beware the Ides of March Shakespeare is planting the seed to the events leading up to Caesar’s assassination. Julius Caesar then proceeds to tell the soothsayer to let him be but readers soon find out that the soothsayer was trying to warn Caesar so he would not be assassinated. Another time superstition is used throughout the play is when Caesar is superstitious about his wife, he believes she is cursed because she can not have children. Caesar believes that his friend Mark Antony can cure Calpurnia. He thinks the curse will be uplifted when his friend touches his wife and they will be able to have children. Julius Caesar does not believe there is a logical explanation to why his wife can not have kids therefore he is superstitious about his wife.

While omens, the theme of fate, and superstition play a big role into creating the story of Julius Caesar there are many other aspects in the play that seal the fate of Caesar. It is important for readers to understand how Shakespeare uses these three plot devices when reading the play because it will help readers understand the plot of the story more.