Imagery Usage in Shakespeare´s Julius Caesar

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What comes to mind when one thinks of “Romans”? Power, dominion, or even greatness could describe these noble people. The Romans were arguably one of the most powerful civilizations in history, so how could a people of such greatness come to such ruin? Power is a dangerous privilege for any worldly nation to possess, and when mixed with a scandalous concoction of greed and corruption, could spell the end of an entire civilization. Julius Caesar showcases Shakespeare’s own interpretation concerning the demise of Rome’s most famous leader. This play spotlights various examples of imagery to help the audience understand the author’s interpretation of this historical tragedy. Imagery is a kind of figurative language used to help the reader interpret a story through sensory description. The themes of power and corruption are displayed through many examples of Imagery in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar such as the barrenness of Caesar’s wife, the offering of a crown, and a series of foreshadowing omens.

The first imagery device to consider can be found during a celebration of the Roman feast of Lupercal when Caesar asks Antony to “...touch Calpurnia; for our elders say, The barren, touched in this holy chase, Shake off their sterile curse.” (I, ii, 89) The imagery used in this passage is a little less obvious, so one must break down the quote to understand what is being said. It was part of Roman cultural tradition for a naked participant to run through the streets of the city during the festival. It was also believed that if this runner touched you, it was good luck. Caesar is asking Antony to touch Calpurnia because he believes that it will “shake off [her] sterile curse,” meaning that she is supposedly infertile, and a touch from Antony...

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...the play when the very item Caesar sought after for power is used to lure him to his demise. As the play continues, the rest of the conspirators are not convinced by Caesar’s dramatic scene, and decide that it’s time to put an end to Caesar’s plans before things get out of hand. They prove Caesar’s true ambitions by calling him out of hiding “To give this day a crown to mighty Caesar.” (II, ii, 94) Thus showing that even in fear, Caesar cannot turn down such an easy opportunity. He does not think himself unworthy as he lead the people to believe, otherwise wouldn’t he have turned down this proposal as well? This turn of events proves to favor the image of a corrupt and power-seeking leader. He decided to venture out willingly into the tempting trap laid out before him, even despite all the omens forbidding it. Omens, being the next Imagery device given by Shakespear.

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