Betrayal in Shakespeare Essay
Betrayal in Shakespeare
Breaking the bond of trust in a relationship, and deceiving another person is considered betrayal. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, betrayal can be seen as the base of the whole story, and throughout the play between other characters. Due to the anger of Cassius, the whole of the play deals with the betrayal of Caesar by Cassius, and there are examples of this before and after his death. The first betrayal of Caesar can be looked at in the very beginning of the play, when Flavius and Marcillus sends the commoners away, and then proceed to take scarves off of the statues celebrating Caesar.
They make the comment, “These growing feathers pluck’d from Caesar’s wing will make him fly an ordinary pitch,” (Act 1, Scene 1). In other words, the two conspirators feel that by sending away Caesar’s followers will give Caesar a reality check of sorts, and to bring his ego down a peg. The next example of betrayal can be seen by Cassius working to get Brutus to his side, away from believing in Caesar. He does this by first sending him a fake letter, and then proceeds to tell him about why he is so upset, and that he feels betrayed by Caesar.
He tells Brutus about a time before when they were swimming across the Tiber river and Caesar was almost drowning, calling out, “Help me, Cassius, or I will sink! ” (Act 1, Scene 2). He describes how he saved Caesar’s life, then tells Brutus, “and this man is now become a god, and Cassius is a wretched creature and must bend his body,” (Act 1, Scene 2). This would be describing Cassius bowing down to Caesar as a king, even though he had saved his life. Most of the betrayal in this story is fairly upfront, until Act 3, after Caesar is killed.
His friend Mark Anthony acts as though he is betraying Caesar, in order to take his later revenge. When he first arrives at the murder scene, he shakes hands with all of the conspirators that have killed Caesar, even though their hands are covered with blood. He then comments, “Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death to see thy Anthony making his piece, shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes, most noble! In the presence of thy corpse? ” (Act 3, Scene 1). He is actually speaking to the spirit of Caesar.
Anthony plays this part of fake betrayal to Caesar, continuing by agreeing to Brutus that he will not say anything bad about him after Brutus gets done speaking at the funeral of Caesar. Yet, the true betrayal happens when Anthony begins to discount everything Brutus has just said to the citizens, and he turns the citizens against Brutus and the other conspirators. The citizens become enraged as they feel that their leader, Caesar has been betrayed by the killers.
The last example of betrayal can be seen as family betrays family. In Act 5, there is a conversation between Lepidus, Octavius, and Mark Anthony. The first family betrayal is when Lepidus consents to have his brother killed along with the other conspirators. Octavius asks Lepidus, “your brother too must die; consent you Lepidus? ” to which Lepidus answers, “I do consent,” (Act 5, Scene 1). The next family betrayal is when Mark Anthony then agrees that his sister’s son, Publius will be killed too.
Anthony replies without hesitation, “He shall not live; look with a spot I damn him,” (Act 5, Scene 1). There are other examples of betrayal in Julius Caesar, but betrayal is a concept that the whole story is based on, interweaving between almost all the characters of the story. From the major storyline of the betrayal of Caesar, to the minor betrayals between characters which cause Caesar’s death, or betrayal that is because of it, this is ultimately the theme of the story itself.