Difference Between Plutarch's and Shakespeare's Caesar
Julius Caesar was in a precarious situation. It could be interpreted
that he deserved the fate that pursued him for ambition or some other reason, or
that it was a cold murder for which he did not deserve. Both Shakespeare and
Plutarch wrote about Julius Caesar. Each tells the story a little differently.
Plutarchs version is more sympathetic to Caear's situation.
Shakespeare shows him to be an insensitive and conceited person thinking
only of himself. This is shown by his reaction to Calpurnia's dream. After her
description of her dream he says, "Caesar shall forth. The things that
threatened me Ne'er looked but on my back; when they shall see the face of
Caesar, they are vanished." This attitude to a warning implying that he was
given fair warning and his death was partially due to his over confidence. On
the other hand Plutarch gives him a more sensitive reaction to the dream in
saying, "Caesar himself, it seems was affected and by no means easy in his
Moreover, Plutarch's writings show the long string of coincidences
almost as Fate were deeming it necessary for him to die, and that he had no
control over it. "...the scene of the final struggle and of the assassination
made it perfectly clear that some heavenly power was involved...directing that
it" (the assassination) "should take place just here. For here stood a statue of
Pompey..." This stating that Caesar's murder was the deceased Pompey's revenge
for he was killed by Caesar. Whereas, Shakespeare does not say anything about
the statue and shows the same coincidences in the play as warnings to him that
out of his own stupidity he did not take.
Lastly, after Caesar's death the Romans were enraged to revenge him at
the sight of his body and out of their love for him, in Plutarch's writing. In
Shakespeare's the Roman were enraged but quelled by Brutus' speech and enraged
again by Antony's. This showing the Roman to be mindless, moved only by a good
speech and not by their feelings for Caesar. This again showing Plutarch's
writing to be more sympathetic to Caesar than Shakespear's.