The Common Man's Role In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Essay

The Common Man's Role In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Essay

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The Common Man's Role In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

In this essay, I will discuss who the common man is, his involvement
in the governing of the city and his effect on the success of the
higher figures.

Shakespeare is renowned for setting a sturdy background to his plays
in their opening scenes as he does most famously in Macbeth where he
introduces the idea of the world being upside down. Here Shakespeare
immediately introduces the upper classes' perception of the common man
as a key theme.

In the streets of Rome in Act 1 Scene 1 we are given an excellent
basis of the position of both the common man and the tribunes. The
common man's first appearance sees him bothered by Murellus and
Flavius, two higher class tribunes. "You blocks, you stones, you worse
than senseless things!" The common man is looked down upon with
complete disrespect and in this scene they prove their stupidity with
weak jokes, inane laughter and dependent behaviour. Cobbler, "A trade
sir, as you would say, a mender or bad soles" After futile attempts at
explaining the meaning and importance of recent political changes,
Murellus and Flavius banish the crowd from the streets. This opening
scene tells us how Rome is at the time and provides the reader (or
play-goer) with a view of the common man against which their depiction
in the rest of the play can be measured.

The key themes of the play are instantly obvious and the common man's
part is immediately recognised by the reader. Rome is torn between
democracy and totalitarianism but early in the play we see that the
common man likes a strong leader. They need to be led because they are
unable to make d...

... middle of paper ...

...upright man".
This is evidence that the politics of Julius Caesar have definite
contemporary relevance.

In conclusion, I think that despite the common man being shown by
Shakespeare to be stupid, simple and impressionable, their importance
is far more than skin deep. It becomes more and more clear that the
common man is Rome because of the sheer quantity of them, thus making
them the most important people in the play, the public. The higher
figures' success is dependent on his opinion and even though it may
not be difficult to persuade the common man, both Brutus and Antony
both recognise this. But it is their interpretation of what methods
are best for swaying their fickle opinions that separates them and
even though Brutus and Antony can both see that the common man is
powerful, only Antony is able to use them.

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