Act II Summary
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Act 2 contains the rising action - a series of complications that build suspense as the main characters try to resolve their conflicts.

Act 2 Scene 1 - Brutus' garden
Brutus has been up all night as he considers whether or not to join the conspiracy. In his soliloquy (p 783) he questions how Caesa's rise to power might change his nature. He fears that Caesar would forget the people of Rome once he climbs ambition's ladder. His servant delivers one of the anonymous letters planted by Cinna that tells him to wake up and to speak, strike & redress (correct wrongs). He decides to join and promises Rome that he will make things right.

The conspirators arrive & they plan to kill Caesar the next day at the Capitol before he is crowned king. Brutus refuses to swear an oath saying that honest men do not need one. He believes they're all in it for the good of Rome - his first mistake.

Brutus' second mistake is his refusal to kill Marc Antony (Caesar's right-hand man). Cassius thinks Antony is dangerous b/c of his loyalty to Caesar. Brutus disagrees, saying Antony is just a limb of Caesar & once he's out of the way, Antony will be useless. He also doesn't want the assassination to appear too bloody; they should look like sacrificers and not butchers.

Portia approaches Brutus after the men leave. She knows he's troubled & wants to know why. He doesn't think she can handle it, so she stabs herself in the thigh to show she can. He does tell her later that night, but it's not explicitly mentioned in the play.

Act 2 Scene 2 - Caesar's house
Calpurnia, Caesar's wife is disturbed by all of the omens & the dream she had about Caesar. His statue was spewing blood from 100 holes & smiling Romans were washing their hands in it. She wants him to stay home from the Capitol today.

Caesar sends his augurers (fortune tellers) out to gut a sacrificial animal and read its entrails. They report that the animal had no heart. Hmmmmm... Caesar tells his wife he'll humor her and stay home today.

The conspirators arrive to escort Caesar to the Senate & he says he's not going and tells them about the dream. Decius Brutus says the dream is not ominous - it's fortunate. The blood coming from Caesar's statue is actually reviving blood that bring new life to Rome once he becomes king. He then says if Caesar doesn't go today they might choose someone else. When he appeals to Caesar's macho pride by saying, "Shall I tell them that Caesar is afraid and he'll come when his wife has better dreams?" Caesar feels silly & says he'll go after all.

Act 2 Scene 3 - a street near the Capitol near Brutus' house
Artemidorous reads aloud a letter that he has written to Caesar. The letter pretty much spells out the whole plot to kill Caesar, including the names of the conspirators.

This scene is short and intended to add to the suspense, making the audience hopeful that Caesar will not be assassinated.

Act 2 Scene 4 - Another part of the street
An anxious Portia sends her servant boy to the Capitol to gather news about Brutus. She also questions a soothsayer for news of Caesar's whereabouts.

 

Posted May 9, 2007