The Contributions of The Women of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Essay

The Contributions of The Women of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Essay

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In a cast of over 30 characters, there are only two women. This is a statement describing the world renown play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. These two female characters are Calpurnia, the wife of Julius Ceasar, and Portia, the wife of Marcus Brutus. Other than these two women, the cast is composed entirely of male characters. In a work of literature so populated by men, one may ask why Shakespeare takes the time to include any women at all. However, after further reflection, it is clear to see the reason as to why they are included. Upon including Calpurnia and Portia in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare deepens our understanding of their husbands, highlights the social values of the time, and highlights important ideas in the play.
Though Calpurnia’s marriage to Caesar differs from that of Portia’s, in both marriages, social values of time are reflected through the actions of Portia and Calpurnia. For example, through Portia’s interactions with her husband we see that throughout all of Rome, it was known to even the women, that women were seen as less important. However, a woman could gain respect by marrying, or being the daughter of an honorable man. Portia reminds Brutus of this as she tries to convince him that she is worthy of his respect and his secrets. “I grant I am a woman, but withal/ A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife./ I grant that I am a woman, but withal/ A woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter.” (292-295). With these words, Portia conveys the qualities that both men and women believe a woman must have in order to gain respect in their society. This is not the only social value conveyed through a wife’s inclusion. In Caesar’s words with his wife at the festival of Lupercal...


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...(II.1.285-287). Portia says this to appeal to the side of Brutus that values honor most. In doing so and questioning the honor of their marriage, Brutus promises to tell her everything he has been hiding. This shows that Romans will do anything to remain honorable in the eyes of their community and loved ones, including telling their best kept secrets.
By including Calpurnia and Portia in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare deepens our understanding of their husbands, highlights the social values of the time, and highlights important ideas in the play. Through their interactions with their husbands these aspects are revealed. Portia and Calpurnia manage to introduce these important details simply through their actions and words, even though they are the only two women in the play.



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The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

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