Julius Caesar William Shakespeare lived from 1564 to 1616. During his time, he wrote and established many plays. Although he lived about 400 years ago, his themes still have proven their universality today. A good example of this is in the play, Julius Caesar. One of the themes in this play is that there are many methods of manipulation, that persuade and influence people into a certain direction, sometimes too quickly, without thought. Shakespeare distorts the views of people to show that commoners or plebeians in the play, tend to change their minds without thought or consideration.
An example of that occurs in the play within the beginning on a street in Rome. The Romans are gathered to celebrate two events, the religious festival of Lupercal and the recent victory of Julius Caesar. “We make a holiday to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph,” says a cobbler, whom like most commoners had once supported Pompey. The commoners have since changed their views toward Caesar, now that he holds the power. Another example occurs later in the play. Brutus has just convinced the commoners that what the conspirators did was only out of their love for Rome.
One commoner says, “we are blest that Rome is rid of him,” referring to Caesar which statement is supported by the rest of the crowd. Once again, the hearts of the commoners quickly changes again once Antony gives his speech. After he finishes, the commoners run through the streets noting and searching to kill the once glorified conspirators. This still applies today. For example; Bill Clinton was a fairly respected and admired president, until the world discovered about his mistress. Because of this, voters and people in office have changed their views so quickly, we have lost sight that, disregarding his personal affairs, Clinton has actually been a good president.
Shakespeare shows that the commoners change their minds too quickly, he also shows that methods of manipulation, such as ridicule, can change the views of people. Ridicule is used to persuade Casca to join the conspiracy, Cassius says, “so vile a thing as Caesar! But O grief, where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this before a willing Bondman!” Considering that Casca doesnt like the idea of being a subject to Caesar, he immediately becomes offended and joins the conspiracy. Another example is the first scene of the play. Marullus says to the commoners whom no longer worship Pompey, “You blocks of stones, you worse than senseless things!” to try and influence them to stay loyal to the great Pompey. Even today, we use ridicule as a way of persuading of influencing people to do something.
An example of this would be in the “Think. Dont Smoke” commercial. They are implying that when you smoke, you dont think. Another method of manipulation used in the play is when Portia is trying to uncover Brutus secret. She says to him, “I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus,” and, ” Giving myself a voluntary wound here in the thigh; can I bear that with patience, and not my husbands secrets?” Brutus realizing his actions, he agrees to tell her his secrets.
Another example that is used in the play during the beginning, when Marullus is again trying to persuade the commoners to stay loyal to Pompey. He not only uses ridicule towards the commoners to persuade the once supportive commoners towards Pompey, but he also uses guilt. He says: Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft Have you climbed up to walls and battlements, To towrs and windows, yea, to chimney tops, Your infants in your arms, and there have sat The livelong day, with patient expectation To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome. Because guilt is a universal theme, it is still used to entice and influence others. For example, on television, there are many commercials that display babies and younger children that live in less than sanitary conditions.
They ask for donations to help these children. On one of these commercials, Monica, from Touched by an Angel, says, “if you dont care, turn off the television, dont call, and turn your back on helpless children that need you and can only be helped if you call right now.” Universal themes are all around us, including in this play Julius Caesar. The overall theme in this play is that people are influenced and persuaded by what others say and sometimes people are persuaded too quickly. Because of Shakespeares talent as a writer, his plays will continue to go on and prove their universality, long after the time they were written.