Excess in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Excess in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

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Excess in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Excess makes for a very relevant theme in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Being excessively large compared to his followers is a trait that credits Julius Caesar's character. Excessiveness encompasses the leading conspirators. Excessiveness also marks Antony and Octavius in several ways.


Caesar's descriptions as well as his attitude contain excessiveness. Cassius describes Caesar as excessively large in relationship to his followers. This is shown when he says, "Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world/Like a Colossus, and we petty men/Walk under his huge legs..."(1.2.135-137). He states that Caesar's followers and close associates make themselves unnecessarily small and meek in their actions when they are around Caesar. He says that this way of acting has become unnecessary and dangerous because it allows Caesar too much room to act like a king. Also, Caesar asks to ."..have men about me that are fat,..."(1.2.192) and he has grown to be scared by Cassius because scrawnyness marks one of his traits.


Excessiveness surrounds Cassius and Brutus Cassius declares that the terrifying and supernatural events of the night merely show that something will come that Casca should look forward to and not be afraid of. He enumerates a number of fantastic things that have happened over the course of the night. He states that all of these things, like the ."..birds and beasts from quality and kind,..."(1.3.64), do not represent fear and horror, but the coming of a wonderful new change. Involving Brutus, Portia must resort to gashing her thigh in order to get her husband's attention and make him tell her the truth about his plans. She reveals this to him during a speech where she makes every excessive plea to convince Brutus that knowledge, reliability, and a strong lineage characterize her. Therefor, she has earned her worthyness to not be left out of his matters.


Antony and Octavius also express excessiveness or lack thereof. After reading Caesar's will, Antony takes the clothes off Caesar's body so that the Roman populous to whom he speaks can see Caesar's wounds, thus inflaming the public opinion against Brutus. He personalizes every wound, which raises the public's opinion against Brutus even more.

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He states that "Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed,..."(3.2.177). After which, a plebeian shouts, "We will be revenged."(3.2.204)Antony's excessiveness sparks anger and hatred in the public eye and causes a war. Octavius declares that he intends to avenge every single one of ."..Caesar's three and thirty..."(5.1.53) fatal wounds during the battle, showing that he feels excessively responsible for punishing Caesar's wrong-doers. Last, Antony, upon finding Marcus Brutus dead, states that Brutus did his most memorable deed without pride, unlike the other conspirators and that Brutus's intentions contained purity and no excess of pride or envy.


One can find at least one example of excess in every act in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Caesar's excessive pride, Cassius's excessive hate, and Antony's and Octavius's excessive drama hold great relevance in the area of excess.


Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Chelsea House Publisher; Connecticut, New York, & Pennsylvania. 1988, Pg. #33 - 36

Durband, Alan. Shakespeare Made Easy: Julius Caesar. Barron's Educational Series, Inc.; New York. 1985.

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Alan Durband. London: Hutchinson & Co. Publishers Ltd., 1984.

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