(1) A trade, sir……….bad soles.
Exp. These words have been spoken by the second citizen in Act I, scene I of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. After having defeated the sons of Pompey, Caesar is making a triumphant entry into Rome. Two Tribunes, namely, Flavius and Marullus, who are hostile to Caesar, are out in a street of Rome to question a segment of the crowd why they have come out in the streets of Rome in a holiday mood and best dress.
Marullus asks the citizens about their occupation. The second citizen, who is a master of the art of quibbling, tells Marullus that he is “a mender of bad soles”. The second citizen is playing on the different meanings of ‘souls’ and ‘soles’ which have the same sounds. The Tribune is puzzled and resents the ambiguity of expression which may indirectly mean, “If you are angry with me; I shall teach you a good lesson”. The citizen wants that the Tribune should understand him in this sense only. The other sense, of course is, “If your shoes have bad heels, I will repair them.”
It may be noted here that Pun is a feature of Shakespeare’s plays written in his mature years. They are invariably put in the mouths of the vulgar characters. The second Citizen is good at punning and never misses a change. The quibble of ‘sole’ and ‘soul’ is also found in The Merchant of Venice, Iv, i, 123, vixz. “Not on the sole but on thy soul harsh Jew”.
(2) The growing …………….. fearfulness.
Exp. In these lines which have been extracted from the speech of Flavius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Flavius, the Roman Tribune refers to the new honours or diadems with which the statues of Caesar have been crowned. Flavius, along with Marullus, first disperse the Romans from the streets and then decide to pluck away all the garlands, banners etc.
With the help of a sustained metaphor, Flavius asks Marullus to pull down all the signs of honour from the statues of Caesar as they will only serve to increase the pride and power of Caesar who would otherwise become unbearably tyrannical and keep people in slavish fear of him.
Caesar is here compared to a full-fledged eagle. If his feathers (new honours) are plucked off, then Caesar, like a peeled bird, would fly on ordinary heights. In other words, the height of power of which he can fly will be reduced and his power and his soaring ambition will be kept in check. Then Caesar will not look down upon the common Romans as his timid slaves.
(3) I, as Aeneas …………. on him.
Exp. These lines have been extracted from the speech of Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. While talking to Brutus, Cassius makes it clear to Brutus that Julius Caesar is just an ordinary person, rather he himself is superior to Caesar. To justify his point Cassius refers to an incident when, in his youthful days, on a stormy day Caesar challenged him to swim across the swollen Tiber. Both of them plunged into the river, but before they could reach the proposed point, Caesar cried out for help.
Referring to the incident mentioned above, Cassius continues to tell Brutus that he rescued the exhausted Caesar from the flooded river, just as their ancestor Aeneas rescued his old father Anchises from the burning town of Troy. But this Caesar, who then showed all the infirmities of a man, is now regarded as a god. On the other hand, he, Cassius is no better than a wretched creature who must bow low before him if Caesar is so condescending as to carelessly throw a nod on him. He means to say that now Caesar has become so great that he (Cassius) must bend his body to Caesar at the slightest sign of some attention from him.
The incident of Aneas and the Trojan war appears in Virgil’s Aeneid, Book II. Anchises, the father of Aeneas, was too old to flee from the flames at the time of the burning of Troy. He would have perished in the flames if his son Aneas had not borne him on his shoulders out of the burning city. Cassius calls Aeneas as an ancestor because according to legend, Rea Silvia, the mother of Romulus, the founder of Rome, was descended from Silvius, the son of Aeneas and Lavinia.
About the comments of Cassius, Hudson observes, “Cassius overflows with mocking comparisons, and finds his pastime in flouting Caesar as having managed by a sham heroism, to hoodwink the world…… the subsequent course of things has the effect of inventing the mockery of Cassius against himself”.
(4) Why, men ……… are underlings.
Exp. In these lines which have been extracted from the speech of Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cassius refers to the tyrannical greatness that Caesar has acquired. The weakling Caesar has become immensely great and popular as the shouts of applause from Caesar’s flatterers during the Lupercal festival indicate.
Cassius remarks that Caesar now sways the world just as the statue of the gigantic Colossus stood at the mouth of the harbour at Rhodes. Just as the great ships used to sail between its legs, so the Romans have to live in subjection to him and appear poor and ignoble before him. In the colossal presence of Caesar, people timidly look about as if seeking to find a grave in which they might lie down and hide dishonour they felt in being so slavish to the will of one man, not even daring to hope for an honourable rest after life. Cassius further tells that for their such a miserable state, neither the stars, i.e., their fate, nor Caesar himself is to blame. The whole fault is theirs, for it is they who have reduced themselves to the level of mere slaves. He means to say that Caesar would not have been a despot if the Romans had so liked.
Colossus was a huge 120 ft. high bronze statue of Apollo standing with legs astride the entrance to the harbour at Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. The statue was overthrown by an earthquake in 247 B. C. A reference to ‘stars’ indicates a popular belief that the characters, bodies and fortunes of men were influenced by the star under which they were born. These lines express the conception on which the whole Shakespearean drama is founded, viz., that so-called Fate is man’s own character.
(5) Now is it ………………. a king.
Exp. In these lines which appear in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cassius laments the degenerate condition of Rome under Caesar. The present generation should be ashamed of itself for subjecting itself slavishly to the rule of one man only, i.e., Caesar. Present-day Rome can no longer boast of her valiant noble men for whom she was once so famed. Cassius also says that never since the flood of Deucalion has a single age passed that has not given rise to more than one great man in Rome.
Cassius says that now the Roman empire has lost all her former glory. Now it is a Rome in which there is no crowding or jostling, for now it contains but one person, i.e., Caesar, who determines the whole show. He means to say that now only one dominating figure of Caesar is seen in Rome as if Rome has room enough for only one man. In his opinion, the domination of Rome by one man is a disgrace to the age. Cassius also reminds Brutus that in ancient times there was this present Brutus ancestor Junius Brutus, who was the first Consul of Rome, elected on the expulsion of the last king of Rome. But the present Brutus is meek enough to allow Caesar to become a despotic ruler of Rome. The Brutus of history would no more tolerate a king in Rome than he would endure the Devil himself.
Lucius Junius Brutus roused the Romans to expel Sextus. Tarquinius to avenge the wrong done to Lucretia. The monarchy being overthrown, Brutus was elected the first consul. He also put to death two of his sons who attempted to restore the Tarquinius.
(6) Such men ……………. I am Caesar.
Exp. In these lines which have been extracted from Caesar’s speech in Shakespeare’s Roman play Julius Caesar, Caesar speaks of his disliking of certain kind of people. When Antonia assures him that Cassius is not dangerous and that he is a noble and well-disposed Roman, Caesar says that he does not like lean, thin and hungry-looking people like Cassius. Moreover, he is a deep and thoughtful person, given to much reading and calculations.
In these Caesar tears. He feels that Cassius always feels jealous whenever and wherever he meets anyone greater than him. Cassius has inferiority complex. Caesar makes is clear to Antony that he is not afraid of cassius. He is always the fearless Caesar.
In fear Caesar has got an inherent fear. He says –
of all the wonders that I have heard It seems me most strange that men should fear.
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(7) But never ……………… send destruction.
Exp. It is speed of Casca. To Cicero Casca tells that this night’s experience is much more horrible than his earlier experiences.
Casca tells Cicero that in his adventurous life, he has seen tempest and the fury of oceans, but never till tonight did he see such a furious tempest. He means to say that this tempest is not an ordinary tempest showering down rain, sleet, hail, but one showering down lightning and fire. In his opinion, it is a strife in which the different powers and forces of heaven are at variance with each other as the different powers and forces of a nation are at variance in civil wars. Or it appears that men have become so over-whelming insolent that the gods in anger are destroying them by raining down fire on them.
Here Shakespeare has mentioned Nature as symbolic of the forces of God. The agitation in Nature is also the symbol of the agitation in the hearts of the conspirators who are plotting the murder of Caesar. Thus Nature represents human emotions and sentiments.
(8) Therein, ye gods…………….. dismiss itself.
Exp. These lines have been extracted from the speech of Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The panic-stricken Casca, after the strange portions to the night immediately preceding the day of the murder of Caesar, strolls about the streets in superstitious fear and is met by Cassius. Casca tells him that the senators intend to appoint by decree Caesar as a king. Cassius says that it would be the most unfortunate day in the history of their country.
Reacting to the information given by Casca, Cassius tells that in case Caesar should wear the crown, he would not live to lead a life of slavery. In that event, his course of action would be to commit suicide. He tells Casca that instead of wearing his dagger in its sheath by his side, he would sheathe it is his heart thereby putting an end to this slavish existence. In this power of self- destruction the gods have preserved for the weakest among mortals a means of frustrating the cruel designs of tyrants who can only enslave men’s bodies but the spirit is free. Even such insurmountable obstacles as imprisonment in a stone-built tower or captivity in an underground cell will prove too weak to stop a man determined to put an end to his life. But the indomitable and freedom loving spirit of man, weary of these hindrances imposed upon it by man- kind, such as chains, etc. can easily free itself by self-slaughter.
It may be noted here that the main motive which leads Cassius to sponsor the conspiracy against Caesar is undoubtedly personal jealousy. But this speech indicates his other motives also, viz., his love of liberty and equality which induce him to fight the bondage laid upon him. It would, indeed, be wrong to attribute his hostility to Caesar as being motivated by personal spite alone.
(9) Poor man! …………. as Caesar!
Exp. These lines have been extracted from the speech of Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. When Casca strolls about the streets in superstitious fear on account of the strange natural happenings, Cassius tells that such strange events indicate some impending calamity in the State. When Casca informs that Caesar is going to be crowned as king. Cassius tells that in that ease he would like to commit suicide rather than submit to slavery. Casca responds favourably to it and adds that it is given to every slave to exercise the power of self-destruction.
Cassius, encouraged by this favourable response from Casca, replies that Caesar would not be a tyrant if he knew that men were ready to free themselves by death. He is of the opinion that Caesar would not be a wolf (tyrant) if he did not find Romans as timid as sheep. He would not be a wolf (tyrant) if he did not find Romans as timid as sheep. He would not be a lion if the Romans were not hinds – mere boors, incapable of seeing their own real good. He explains his point with the help of the metaphor that those that are in a hurry to kindle a mighty blaze, take the help of weak straw, which quickly ignites. He means to say that Romans are no better than straw and refuse, because a mean fellow like Caesar is using them to kindle his glory. Caesar has found in the degenerated condition of present-day Romans utterly worthless stuff which he chooses to use for no better purpose than that of self-glorification.
It is relevant to note here that Cassius makes the fundamental mistake that merely be destroying Caesar without at the same time changing the character of the Romans, who have become so tame and spiritless, it is not possible to eliminate Caesarism. Thus Cassius conclusion that tyranny will be crushed with the death of Caesar is wrong.
(10) He sits………………….. to worthiness.
Exp. This is the speech of Casca in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. While hatching their conspiracy against the life of Caesar, Casca suggests Cassius to take Brutus also into confidence in their conspiracy. He feels that Brutus will prove to be quite helpful in their plan.
Casca reminds Cassius that Brutus is held in high esteem by the people of Rome. Therefore, his presence in the conspiracy will make it appear a noble and patriotic deed. He is so venerated that his participation will turn the vicious conspiracy into a noble and patriotic cause. Casca means to say that just as the alchemist turns base metals into gold, Brutus presence with them will turn their vice into virtue. In other words, their bloody deed will turn into a patriotic causes by Brutus’ inclusion in their conspiracy.
This reveals Casca’s farsightedness. He knows that Brutus inclusion in their conspiracy would serve as a cover to their deed and its justification.
(11) Between the ……………… an insurrection.
Exp. These lines form a part of the soliloquy of Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Brutus tries to analyze his mental and emotional conflict after he has taken his decision to murder Caesar. Brutus has not been able to sleep since he met Cassius who incited him against Caesar. He is now looking back on the long conflict by which his mind was torn in the interval between the acting of the deed and the first thought of it in his mind.
Brutus feels that the interval of conflict has been a period of a nightmare and dreadful vision for him. It has been as painful as an ugly dream. The state of his mind in this dreadful interval can be compared to that of a kingdom which is paralyzed when the different constituents are in a state of commotion and continual agitation. Then the guardian spirit, i.e., the directive power of the mind, that watches the protective and inward powers that excite to the bloody deed, are in council. He means to say that the mind is in the throes of a great agitation and disturbance.
This reveals the mental agitation of Brutus. But it may be noted that the reasoning by which Brutus arrives at his decision to murder Caesar is only hypothetical and fallacious because he accepts ‘mere suspicion’ for surety.
‘The Genius’ has been used as an allusion to the classical belief that every man is watched over by a guardian spirit who directs his action.
(12) Let’s kill……………… head is off.
Exp. These words have been extracted from the speech of Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Cassius suggests that Antony, the right hand man of Caesar, should also be killed with Caesar. Brutus turns down the proposal saying that he is not in favour of unnecessary bloodshed. Their action should not look as an act of anger, malignancy and vengeance. He is of the opinion that their act of vengeance is against the spirit of Caesar, not against his body, and therefore, there is no need of any slaughter.
Refusing the suggestion of Cassius to kill Antony also along with Caesar, Brutus suggests that he has only agreed to Caesar’s murder as a sacrifice at the alter of his country’s freedom and that he does not want to mar the sacrifice by unnecessary bloodshed. Caesar’s dead body would be treated as an offering to the gods. He is against the idea of slaughtering his enemies and throw their pieces to the dogs. Surely they are not a set of butchers who slaughter animals from sordid motives. Let their hearts, like cunning masters, incite their bodily organs to do the bloody deed and then appear to rebuke them for the deed. Brutus feels that if they act in this way, it will appear that their action was only dictated by sheer necessity, not by any feelings of personal hatred. People of Rome will then call them as healers of a disease of the country, and not mere assassins. And so far Antony is concerned, he should not be a cause of their worry because he is ‘but a limb of Caesar’. He will be rendered helpless and powerless after Caesar’s death just as the limb of the body stop working when the head is chopped off.
Here it may be noted that Brutus lacks shrewdness and practical sense. He thinks that the murder of Caesar will render Antony ineffective. But he cannot presage in the least that Antony would proved to the very may to crush the conspirators and avenge Caesar. Hence, it illustrates the ‘irony of tragedy’.
(13) If he be …… most flattered.
Exp. These words have been spoken by Decius, one of the conspirators in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Cassius expresses his doubts that he is not sure whether Caesar will attend the meeting in the Capitol where they plan to murder him. As Caesar has grown superstitious, it is possible that the unusual portents of the night and the persuasion of this soothsayers will induce him to change his mind.
But Decius assures his friends that Caesar would surely reach the Capitol. He can make him reach there. He knows that Caesar loves to hear stories as to how the mightiest of the brute creation may be deceived by the wiles employed against them and of contrasting their liability to be thus misled with his own immunity from any such weakness. Decius means to say that Caesar loves to contrast the liability of these beasts to be deceived with his own resistless power and immunity from deception. Unicorns are said to have been taken by one who, running behind a tree, eluded the violent push the animal was making at him, so that his horn spent its force on the trunk, and stuck fast, detaining the beast till he was killed by the hunter. Bears are reported to have been surprised by means of a mirror which they would gaze on, affording their pursuers an opportunity of taking surer aim. In the same way elephants were seduced into pitfalls lightly covered with hurdles and turf, on which a proper bait to tempt them was exposed. About Caesar, Decius observes that he like to be told that he cannot be conquered by flattery, though at that very moment he is being most signally deceived by flattery in believing him when he tells him that, unlike other men, he is not susceptible to flattery.
Decius here points out Caesar’s weakness. Caesar believed that even the mightiest creatures on earth had some flaw in their character through which it was possible to bring about their ruin. But when it was pointed out to him that he himself suffered from this weak point in his love of flattery, he would deny it. So with the help of flattery he would be able to bring Caesar to the Capital.