Get notes, workbook solutions, summary, questions and answers, and pdf of the drama/play Julius Caesar (Act 2 Scene 1) by William Shakespeare which is part of ICSE Class 9 English. However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
Brutus finds himself restless and plagued by thoughts, alone in his garden in the dead of night. Unable to find peace in sleep due to the persuasive arguments Cassius has put before him, he contemplates the idea that Caesar must be killed to save Rome from impending tyranny. Brutus asks Lucius, his servant, to light a candle in his study. Lucius returns, presenting Brutus with a letter he found at the window while looking for a candle. The letter, written anonymously by Cassius in various handwriting styles, is aimed at encouraging Brutus to act against Caesar. Reading the letter under the light of passing meteors, Brutus comes to the somber conclusion that, even though he bears no personal ill will towards Caesar, the man must die to preserve the Roman Republic.
Later, Cassius arrives at Brutus’ residence accompanied by other co-conspirators: Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus, and Trebonius. Cassius proposes that they all take an oath to bind them to their cause of killing Caesar for the greater good of Rome. Brutus, steadfast in his belief that their motives are pure and just, dismisses the idea of an oath. Their Roman identity and honorable cause, he argues, are oath enough. The subject then turns to the inclusion of Cicero in their conspiracy. Brutus stands against it, asserting that Cicero, being uninformed from the start, won’t fully grasp the seriousness of their plans. Despite Cassius’ objection, the others defer to Brutus’ judgment, such is their respect for him. However, Brutus seems to overlook Cicero’s skill in oratory and influence.
Cassius then suggests that Mark Antony, a loyal confidant to Caesar, should also be assassinated. Brutus, however, objects. He argues that killing Antony would be excessive; with Caesar gone, Antony would lose his political influence and significance. In doing so, Brutus severely underestimates Antony’s power and cunning, describing him as a man devoted to leisure and social activities, and therefore not a serious threat.
The conversation shifts to whether Caesar will actually go to the Senate, especially given recent strange omens that have made him superstitious. Decius takes it upon himself to ensure Caesar’s attendance, planning to exploit Caesar’s vanity and love of flattery.
After the conspirators leave, Portia, Brutus’ worried wife, approaches him. She is deeply concerned about his recent strange and aloof behavior. To prove her emotional and physical resilience, she reveals a self-inflicted wound on her thigh and pleads for Brutus to share his troubles with her. Touched by her gesture and her argument that, as Cato’s daughter and his wife, she is more than capable of sharing his burdens, Brutus agrees to reveal his secrets to her later.
Their private moment is interrupted by a knock. It’s Ligarius, arriving with a bandage on his head, claiming to have risen from his sickbed just to join whatever enterprise Brutus is planning. Impressed by his loyalty, Brutus warmly invites Ligarius to be a part of his mission, obviously intending to disclose the full details soon.
In this intricate web of events, Brutus grapples with ethical dilemmas, all while missing key insights into the characters of Antony and Cicero, setting the stage for the unfolding tragedy.
Multiple Choice Questions
1. Brutus asks Lucius to place a candle in his
Answer: b) study
2. Brutus thinks of Caesar as a
Answer: a) serpent’s egg
3. Conspiracy is so evil that it chooses to roam freely
Answer: c) during the night
4. According to Brutus, an oath is not necessary as
Answer: b) it is not required
5. Brutus considers Antony to be a
Answer: c) a limb of Caesar
BRUTUS- it must be by his death, and, for my part,
I know no personal cause to spur at him, but for the general.
He would be crowned how that might change his nature”.
1. Where is Brutus? Why is Brutus unable to sleep?
Answer: Brutus is alone in his orchard, pacing restlessly in the middle of the night. He is unable to sleep because his mind is in turmoil over the idea of assassinating Julius Caesar, which Cassius has convinced him is necessary.
2. Whose death is Brutus speaking about? What are Brutus’ fears about the change in ‘his nature’?
Answer: Brutus is debating aloud about whether Caesar must be killed. He fears that if Caesar is crowned king, it will transform his character and make him arrogant and tyrannical.
3. What danger does Brutus foresee if the person is crowned king? What does this reveal about Brutus’ character?
Answer: Brutus sees danger in allowing Caesar to become an authoritarian ruler. He believes Caesar’s power will corrupt his moral character. This reveals Brutus’ strong principles – he prioritizes ideals and the greater good over personal relationships.
4. What examples does Brutus cite to express his fears? Mention any two.
Answer: To illustrate his fears about power corrupting Caesar’s character, Brutus cites the examples of a serpent hatching from an egg and becoming dangerous, and poisonous adders only coming out when the warm sun shines. Both examples show benign things becoming lethal when conditions change.
5. Who enters after the extract? What does he bring to Brutus? Where had he found the object?
Answer: As Brutus is pondering these dark thoughts, his servant Lucius enters the scene. Lucius has brought a lit taper/candle to Brutus’ study as requested. He says he found the sealed letter he gives to Brutus while searching for a flint to light the candle by the window.
BRUTUS- this is good. Go to the gate, somebody knocks.
Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar,
I have not slept
between the acting of a dreadful thing
…… or a hideous dream
1. Complete the lines in the extract. Explain the lines after completing the extract.
Answer: The full lines are: “Between the acting of a dreadful thing/And the first motion, all the interim is/Like a phantasma or a hideous dream.” This vividly describes the surreal feeling of the time between making the fateful decision to commit a horrible act and actually carrying it out – it feels strange and nightmarish, almost unreal.
2. Who come to meet Brutus? How have they disguised themselves?
Answer: A group of men including Cassius, Casca, Decius Brutus, Cinna, Metellus Cimber, and Trebonius come to secretly meet Brutus at his home. They have cleverly disguised their identities by pulling their hats down over their ears and covering the lower halves of their faces with their cloaks.
3. What does Brutus say about conspiracy? What advice does he give?
Answer: When they first arrive, Brutus remarks that conspiracy should only creep around at night since it is so evil, saying “O conspiracy, sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night?” He advises them to hide their true, dangerous intentions behind friendly smiles and courtesy.
4. What is the figure of speech used by Caesar to describe conspiracy? Explain.
Answer: The vivid figure of speech Brutus uses to describe the unnaturalness and wickedness of conspiracy is personification. He gives the abstract concept human attributes, saying it “chooses” when to roam freely and should be ashamed to show its face. This emphasizes how deeply wrong he feels this conspiracy is.
BRUTUS- no, not an oath; if not the face of men
The sufferance of our souls, the times abuse
If there be motives weak, break off be times
And every man hence to his idle bed.
1. Who suggests that an oath should be taken? What does this show about the person’s foresightedness?
Answer: Cassius is the one who suggests the conspirators should all take a formal oath together, binding them in their plot to kill Caesar. This demonstrates Cassius’ greater political acumen and foresightedness in wanting to secure the men’s loyalty to their cause.
2. Who according to Brutus swears an oath?
Answer: According to Brutus, only weak, cowardly men swear oaths. He believes true Romans and noblemen should keep their word without requiring an oath.
3. Why does Brutus feel that swearing an oath is not necessary?
Answer: Brutus argues that taking an official oath is unnecessary because their intentions are honorable, so their inner virtues should be enough to commit them to the cause. He thinks an oath is only for dishonest men whose word alone cannot be trusted.
4. What is the next instance in which Brutus contradicts Cassius? In what way does this Brutus’ blunder surface in the play?
Answer: Brutus ignores Cassius’ advice again when deciding whether to assassinate Mark Antony along with Caesar. Unfortunately, this fateful decision proves to be a grave blunder, as Antony uses his funeral oration to successfully turn the public against Brutus and the conspirators.
5. How does Cassius show his farsightedness regarding the killing of Mark Antony? How correct was Cassius in his assessment of Mark Antony?
Answer: Cassius wisely foresees that allowing Mark Antony to live would come back to haunt them, arguing that Antony would use his influence with the Roman people to undermine the conspirators. This demonstrates Cassius’ good judgment and political savvy, since Antony did indeed become their enemy.
DECIUS- shall no man else be touched but only Caesar?’
CASSIUS Decius, well urged – I think it is not meet
Mark Antony, so well be loved of Caesar should outlive Caesar.
We shall find of him a shrewd contriver.
1. What does Cassius suggest? Why does Brutus contradict him? What are the reasons given by Brutus not to kill Mark Antony?
Answer: Knowing Caesar feels great affection for Antony, Cassius suggests they should kill Antony along with Caesar to prevent future problems. However, Brutus contradicts him, arguing that killing Antony would seem too bloody and cruel.
2. How does Brutus try to justify that their act will appear ‘too bloody’?
Answer: To justify sparing Antony, Brutus argues that only killing Caesar, their main target, will make it appear they acted out of principle and honor, not vicious malice. Killing Caesar alone will send the message that they had noble, measured motives.
3. What is Brutus’ assessment regarding Mark Antony? How sound is his judgement? Give reasons.
Answer: Brutus dismisses Antony as merely “a limb of Caesar” who poses no threat without the “head” Caesar to guide him. He underestimates Antony’s abilities and influence, naively assuming removing Caesar will render Antony harmless. This assessment proves deeply misguided.
TREBONIUS-This time to part.
CASSIUS – but it is doubtful yet.
Whether Caesar will come forth today or no
for he is superstitious grown off late;
Quite from the main opinion he held once.
1. What are Cassius’ fears as to whether Caesar will come or not? What has given rise to this fear? State how Decius can “o’ersway” him. What promise does he make?
Answer: As they are planning when to kill Caesar, Cassius expresses doubts about whether Caesar will even come to the Senate that day. He says Caesar has grown very superstitious lately, so the terrible storm and other supernatural omens may keep him at home. However, Decius promises to use flattery and ego-stroking to ensure Caesar will come despite the warnings.
2. Another person’s name is mentioned after the extract. Who is he? Why is he not suitable to be a part of the plot? What is Brutus’ reaction to this proposal?
Answer: After the extract, the conspirators discuss whether they should involve Cicero in their plot. Ultimately they decide against including the famous orator and philosopher because he was not involved from the beginning so would not fully understand their motivations. Brutus rejects the idea of bringing Cicero in at this late stage.
3. What advice does Brutus give to the others before parting? How does he show his affection towards Lucius?
Answer: Before departing, Brutus advises the conspirators to hide their intentions and look cheerful so as not to arouse suspicion. He shows affection for his servant Lucius by addressing him fondly as “boy” and telling him he can keep sleeping soundly without worries or nightmares.
4. Who enters the scene a little later? What does the person say to Brutus?
Answer: Shortly after the conspirators leave, Portia enters the scene. She urgently asks Brutus to confide in her and explain why he has been so troubled and distant lately.
PORTIA dwell I but in the suburbs
of you good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.
1. How does Portia assess Brutus’ ill health? Is she correct in her assessment? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: When Brutus claims he is simply ill to explain his odd behavior, Portia correctly sees through this and assesses that he is not physically sick but is mentally disturbed by some issue he is keeping secret from her. His recent strange, agitated actions indicate an inner turmoil rather than physical malady.
2. How does Portia show her love and submissiveness to Brutus? What fears does she voice to Brutus?
Answer: To demonstrate her devotion and submission to her husband, Portia kneels before Brutus and desperately pleads with him to share his troubles with her. She is deeply concerned about being excluded from his confidence and not being able to support him.
3. How does Portia prove to Brutus that she is stronger than any other woman?
Answer: To prove to Brutus just how strong she is both mentally and physically, Portia reveals she inflicted a wound on her own thigh and was able to bear the pain stoically. This shows her fortitude and strength of will.
4. Who intrudes the conversation of Portia and Brutus? What does Brutus promise Portia?
Answer: Just as Brutus is moved by Portia’s heartfelt pleas and promises to tell her everything, they are interrupted by Lucius bringing in an unexpected visitor, Ligarius. Brutus tells Portia they will continue their discussion and he will reveal all his secrets soon.
5. Before this extract, Portia appealed to Brutus in such a way that she part played on his emotions. Which of her reasoning has appealed most to you? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: While Portia’s dramatic demonstration of stabbing her own leg proves her determination, her emotional appeal is more powerful. Highlighting her duty as Brutus’ wife and pleading for his trust based on her love and loyalty provides a compelling moral argument. Her words reveal the depth of their relationship.
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