Saturday, October 15, 2011

The unkindest cut

1) Here's more of Caesar's possible ambition:

"Thy brother by decree is banished:
If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,
I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause
Will he be satisfied. ...
I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
So in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this;
That I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,
And constant do remain to keep him so."

Of course, in some ways it's good to be constant like the northern star. But not in stubbornness and refusal to forgive.

2) But is that really tyrannical enough to kill him? There are probably lots of politicians who would also keep Metellus' brother banished. Are Cassius, Brutus and their co-conspirators just paranoid? Or would allowing Caeser to live also allow for less and less freedom? Were they justified in their preemptive strike?

It seems that if it weren't for Cassius' bloodthirstiness, Brutus would have definitely waited a little bit.

3) Mark Antony's reaction is strange to me. He's standing above Caesar's lifeless body, and basically says, "Now, before I get mad, let me know if you have a good reason for killing him." Is it because he trusts and admires Brutus so much, that he's sure there must be a justifiable reason? Or, maybe it fits with what I noticed while watching the movie. Maybe Mark Antony has been thinking about doing the same thing, and Brutus simply beat him to the punch.

4) After the murderers leave, Mark Antony is left to speak his soliloquy and promise to avenge Caesar's death by means of civil war.

So is Mark Antony genuine? Were my observations and suspicions unfounded? I guess I'll have to keep reading.

5) I've made a few connections between Brutus and Hamlet. Both spent time contemplating the pros and cons of committing murder and working up the courage to do it. But Brutus' contemplation was a lot more intellectual and methodical while Hamlet was just being emo. And the later scene with Caesar's ghost of course recalls the scenes with Hamlet's ghost.

But here's Mark Antony, the moment he is finally alone, promising to avenge Caesar's death. He doesn't need a ghost to tell him or a long time to be moody and broody.

Does that mean Mark Antony loved Caesar more than Hamlet loved his father? Or does it mean something else?

6) Is there significance to Brutus beginning his speech with "Romans, countrymen, and lovers" while Mark Antony says "Friends, Romans, countrymen"? Nothing comes to mind, they seem pretty close. Maybe "lovers" is a little more intimate than "friends" (although I know the definitions were more similar back in Caesar's and Shakespeare's day), and the crowd felt like Brutus was flattering and condescending while Mark Antony was describing his relationship with his fellow Romans more realistically. Maybe?

7) Brutus: "... as I slew my best lover for the
good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself,
when it shall please my country to need my death."

Because of Brutus' modesty and patriotism, and the final lines of the play, I'm inclined to believe Brutus when he says this.

8) Here's that mob mentality again...

(after Brutus' speech)
"All: Live, Brutus! live, live!
First Citizen: Bring him with triumph home unto his house
Second Citizen: Give him a statue with his ancestors.
Third Citizen: Let him be Caesar.
Fourth Citizen: Caesar's better parts
Shall be crown'd in Brutus.
First Citizen: We'll bring him to his house
With shouts and clamours."

(and, after Mark Antony's speech)
"First Citizen: Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
Second Citizen: If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Caesar has had great wrong. 
Fourth Citizen: Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious. 
First Citizen: If it be found so, some will dear abide it. 
Second Citizen: Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping. 
Third Citizen: There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony."

Oh, how fickle are the masses! They seem to just believe whatever happens to be the last thing they've heard.

9) Yeah, I'm pretty sure Mark Antony is being sarcastic here. "Oh, Brutus is so honorable..." ... "I don't want to say anything, because you might gang up on Brutus and Cassius..." ... "No, I don't think I will read you Caesar's will, I shouldn't have even mentioned it in the first place..." ... "Oh, if only I was as good an orator as Brutus is..." ... "Wait, don't forget, I was going to tell you about the will..."

What a tease!

And, wait a second, with Mark Antony describing which wounds were inflicted by Cassius and which ones by Brutus ... Mark Antony wasn't even there.

Yeah, he's definitely up to something. It may not be his own ambition, just revenge against Cassius and Brutus. But either way, he's flip-flopping.

Ah, here's the confirmation:

"Mark Antony: Now let it work.
Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt!"

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