Friday, October 14, 2011

George Washington the Zombie Killer

1) This monologue by Brutus is interesting:

"He would be crown'd:
How that might change his nature, there's the question.
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;
And that craves wary walking. Crown him?—that;—
And then, I grant, we put a sting in him,
That at his will he may do danger with.
The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power: and, to speak truth of Caesar,
I have not known when his affections sway'd
More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round.
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Caesar may.
Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel
Will bear no colour for the thing he is,
Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities:
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell."

Doesn't every politician wish he or she could climb all the way up that ladder and never look back? Sure, not every politician runs for president, but they wish they could. I believe that's the sort of person who would run for office. Plenty of candidates run because they want to make the world a better place, but most of them believe they are the ones gifted enough to do it.

It's interesting that Cassius keeps telling Brutus, "If only you saw yourself as everyone else sees you, as a great leader." Brutus seems to be lacking that self-assurance that most politicians have. Does that actually make him a more qualified leader?

That said, I do remember reading about one senator who promised to term-limit himself. And I think I've heard of a few others who have done that. And, actually, before the 22nd Amendment, presidents had a two term-limit only to follow the precedent set by George Washington. Washington was so popular he could have been king by simply asking for it, but was principled enough to give himself an expiration date (one of the reasons I think he's one of our greatest presidents).

Plus, he killed zombies.

2) Here is a perfect glimpse of the "mob mentality" that is soon to come:

When Cassius says they should get Cicero on their side, Casca says, "Let us not leave him out." But then when Brutus says they would be better off without Cicero, Casca says, "Indeed he is not fit." Talk about peer pressure...

3) In Act II Scene II, does it seem like Caesar really is letting the power go to his head?

"Caesar shall forth: the things that threaten'd me
Ne'er look'd but on my back; when they shall see
The face of Caesar, they are vanished."

Or, in other words, "I ain't scared o' nobody."

And when the priests read the entrails, see the animal's heart is missing and then suggest Caesar stay at home, he says:

"Caesar should be a beast without a heart,
If he should stay at home to-day for fear."

He does love his wife, and so agrees that he will stay home at her request. Until Decius Brutus appeals to his pride, and says the blood in Calpurnia's dreams don't mean death, they mean revivial.

"And this way have you well expounded it. ...
How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia!
I am ashamed I did yield to them.
Give me my robe, for I will go."

Is Caesar getting too ambitious? What do you think?

4) It's interesting that in the 1953 movie, the soothsayer is blind. But in the play, he apparently has his vision.

Soothsayer: "Madam, not yet: I go to take my stand,
To see him pass on to the Capitol."

And the whole exchange between Portia and the soothsayer didn't make it in the movie.

Why do you think Mankiewicz did that?

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