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Clause 1

Bella Clause

Ms. Woelke

AP English Language/Period 5

23 March 2018

Julius Caesar ​Essay

A crucial aspect of William Shakespeare's play, ​The Tragedy of Julius Caesar,​ is the events

preceding Caesar’s brutal murder. In Act II, scene ii, Caesar’s wife, Calphurnia, and a conspirator,

Decius, propose contradictory arguments to Caesar. Calphurnia insists that Caesar should remain at home

for the day because he was dreadfully murdered in her dream, while Decius offers an alternate

interpretation of Calphurnia’s dream in which the outcome is positive. To build her argument, Calphurnia

relies on appeals to Caesar’s emotions; however Decius’ argument relies on similar appeals yet is more

successful due to his better understanding of Caesar.

In Calphurnia’s argument to Caesar urging him to remain at home for the day, she attempts to

persuade Caesar with emotional appeals. At the beginning of her speech to Caesar, Calphurnia relies

heavily auditory imagery. Calphurnia warns that in her dream “dying mean did groan”(line 11) and

“ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets”(line 12). These dark and painful descriptions of the sound

of the terror throughout the city stir up hopeless and dreadful emotions due to their painful connotations.

Calphurnia also includes an exclamatory sentence in her speech to enhance its emotion.

After telling Caesar the warning that she heard in her dream, Calphurnia exclaims, “O Caesar!”(line 13).

This exclamatory cry for help conveys her sense of concern, fear, and desperation. Additionally, the

brevity of this sentence creates a tone of urgency. Having not yet heard Decius’ argument, the emotional

charge of Calphurnia’s argument is enough to persuade Caesar that he is better off not going to the

Senate.
Clause 2

Decius uses emotional appeals, as Calphurnia also did, to convince Caesar that the dream has a

different meaning than that of Calphurnia.

Decius’ first approach to rephrasing Calphurnia’s dream is adding diction that creates a

lighthearted and optimistic tone. Whilst rewording Calphurnia’s dream to Caesar, Decius includes

descriptive words such as “smiling”(line 48) and “Reviving”(line 50). Such words connote happiness and

suggest contentment of the Romans, which Decius knows will satisfy Caesar, who will do anything for

success in his work. Additionally, Decius forces Caesar to consider the consequences of not going to the

Senate by posing the thought-provoking statement, “If you shall send them word you will not come, their

minds may change”(lines 57-58). This choice of detail forces Caesar to consider his options: staying

home to please his wife, or going to the Senate to earn the crown. To Caesar, when compared side by

side, the obvious and most logical choice is to claim his crown. By taking a positive, yet realistic

approach to the argument, Decius persuades Caesar to go to the Senate.

Ultimately, Decius’ argument to Caesar is more persuasive due to his superior understanding of

his audience. Both Calphurnia’s and Decius’ audience is Caesar, an ambitious man whose focus in life is

politics. As a whole, the main reason for Calphurnia’s argument is her fear. In her final statement to

Caesar, Calphurnia says, “Call it my fear that keeps you in the house,”(lines 30-31). Such statements and

the repetition of the word “fear” contribute to a desperate and fearful tone in Calphurnia’s argument.

However, this fear of Calphurnia is not strong enough to fully persuade Caesar, as he considers death “a

necessary end,” that “seems to [him] most strange that men should fear,”(lines 25-26). Because Decius

knows Caesar and his intentions well, he aims his argument not at the fear of death, but of Caesar’s true

fear: seeming weak. To do this Decius asks Caesar, “If Caesar hide himself, shall they not whisper, ‘Lo,

Caesar is afraid’?”(lines 62-63). This rhetorical question mocks Caesar and takes a hit to Caesar’s ego,

making him realize the impact that staying home could have on his image. Decius’ complex

understanding of Caesar’s fears and ambitions make his argument more persuasive in Caesar’s eyes.
Clause 3

Caesar’s take on the arguments made by Calphurnia and Decius ultimately decide whether or not

the conspirators’ plan of murdering Caesar at the Senate will succeed. This being said, Calphurnia’s

emotional argument falls short of persuading Caesar due to the sound logic and appeal of Decius’

argument.