Saturday, May 24, 2014

Julius Caesar, Act 5

In Act 5, near the end of the play, the climax, or moment of greatest tension occurs. in a tragedy the climax is usually the death of the tragic hero. a brief resolution follows that ties up any loose ends in the plot.

Act 5, Scene 1- The Plains of Philippi

  • The two armies meet and argue over who is at fault. When nothing is resolved, they return to their armies and prepare for battle. Octavius vows that he won't stop until his father's 33 wounds have been well avenged.

  • It is Cassius' birthday and he is filled with foreboding about the upcoming battle. Cassius, who never believed in omens before is now spooked because he saw two eagles fall and ravens, crows and kites (black birds) were flying over his army as they marched to Philippi.

  • Brutus waits for Cassius to arrive and wonders about their deteriorating relationship. When Cassius and his army arrive, Cassius begins an argument. Brutus suggests they talk about their differences inside the tent so their armies don't witness their conflict.

Act 5, Scene 2- The Field of Battle

  • In this short scene, Brutus sends Messala (a messenger) to Cassius instructing him to attack Octavius. He feels very confident and rightly so because he does end up winning that battle.

Act 5, Scene 3- The field of Battle

  • Cassius receives information that Octavius has the upper hand, his men are surrounded, and Brutus' soldiers are occupied with looting. He retreats and sends his trusted friend Titinius to see if the oncoming troops are friends or foes. He then tells his slave Pindarus to watch and see what happens to Titinius.

  • Pindarus misreads the situation and reports that Titinius has been overtaken. Rather than face capture or death in battle, Cassius instructs Pindarus to kill him with the same sword he used on Caesar. Note how Cassius must first cover his eyes so he doesn't see Pindarus coming. Pindarus is now a free man and he flees.

  • Titinius arrives with the good news only to find that his master did not trust him to return. He feels that he caused Cassius' death and kills himself.

  • Brutus arrives to find both Cassius and Titinius dead and says, "O Julius Caesar thou art mighty yet."

Act 5, Scene 4- The Field of Battle

  • Lucilius masquerading as Brutus, is captured by Antony's troops. Antony instructs his men to treat him with kindness as he will make a better friend than enemy.

Act 5, Scene 5- The Field of Battle

  • When he sees that the battle is lost and that their conspiracy was based on corruption, Brutus runs upon his own sword which is held by Strato. It is ironic that he commits suicide because he had said earlier that it was a cowardly and vile thing to do.

  • Antony gives another moving eulogy, this time over Brutus' body, in which he proclaims him "the noblest Roman of them all." At this point, Antony realizes that Brutus was the only conspirator who murdered Caesar for the good of Rome and not for personal gain.

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