It’s the bright day that brings forth the adder
Intro – Julius Caesar is different from other tragedies such as King Lear or Hamlet in that the tragic hero is not immediately clear, though it does have one. It is a more nuanced and ambiguous work, with each character being both good and bad. And while JC is a political commentary, reflecting the worries of civil war and succession in Shakespeare’s own times, it’s also peppered with philosophical reflections. The first time you read it, it may strike you as a “cold” tragedy, as Samuel Johnson said, due to this ambiguity and its less-quotable lines, but ultimately, I found it more enjoyable because of this initial impenetrability.
‘T is the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind.
The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most; we that are young
Shall never see too much, nor live so long”
Brief Overview – Lear has been an extremely successful English king in medieval times, but is now ready for a more peaceful life. He devises a cock-and-bull method of dividing his empire amongst his three daughters. Whoever declares their love most fervently gets the most. The two older daughters take hyperbole to a new level and declare their undying affection for him, while the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to lie in such a manner. She says that she loves her father as a daughter should. Lear is angry, disowns her (though she still marries the King of France) and suffering ensues.