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Seth DMello

Ms. Mackeil
ENG 2D1-06
April 27, 2015
The Importance of Superstition and the Supernatural in William
Shakespeares Julius Cesar
Many surprising and unnatural events happen through
Shakespeares tragic recount of the history of Julius Cesar. Throughout
Julius Cesar, Shakespeare uses supernatural and superstitious events
to foreshadow future events and give the audience indirect information
about his play. The play first gives us wind of a supernatural storm
as Casca and Cicero discuss the strange day that they have
experienced. Next, we hear of Calpurnias strange and disturbing
dream in Act Two, which leads to her superstition that her husband
would be murdered in the Senate House. Last but not least Brutus
conscience stirs and creates a ghost of Cesar that predicts the future of
Brutus ultimate demise at Philippi. These supernatural and
superstitious events surely didnt happen in history, but Shakespeare
uses them to create intensity, and dread; foreshadowing events in his
play to help depict the tragic history of Julius Cesar.

As the scene begins we are immediately told of the thunder and


lightning in the background. The Storm that Casca describes as a
tempest dropping fire (Shakespeare Julius Cesar 1.3.10) was one,
which they had never seen before. Casca explains other unnatural and
strange events that he has seen throughout the day; an owl hooting in
the market in broad daylight, a slaves hand burning like twenty
torches, and dead ghosts walking up and down the streets of Rome.
Casca states, I believe they are portentous things unto the climate
they point upon (Shakespeare Julius Cesar 1.3.31-32). These
happenings are all supernatural events, and with Cascas superstition
foreshadowing a climate in Rome, we are being told indirectly of the
upcoming strife in the Capitol. These events also foreshadow how
Cesar will die, and prove to the reader that he was a mighty emperor
and that the Earth would summon a storm and other strange
happenings to foreshadow his death. All the ghosts walking the streets
foretell the many Roman deaths that would happen as a result of the
death of Julius Cesar.
As the story progresses the reader receives another warning of
Cesars death; this time more direct and to the point. It is nighttime
and we hear Cesar telling Decius why he will not be going to the
senate house She dreamt tonight she saw my statue, which, like a
fountain with hundred spouts, did run pure blood (Shakespeare Julius
Cesar 2.2 76-78). This event directly tells us of Calpurnias dream of

her husband dying in the senate house. It also tells us how he will die;
we know that the eight conspirators stabbed him and that is why there
are many spouts of blood from the fountain. Later on in Cesars
dialogue we hear again of the many conspirators that Came smiling
and did bathe their hands in it (Cesars blood) (Shakespeare Julius
Cesar 2.2 79). Shakespeare uses these quotes and the foresight of
Calpurnias dream to create vivid images and thoughts in the readers
mind of the death that Cesar would succumb to.
While preparing for the battle at Phillip, Brutus encounters the Ghost
of Cesar. While Brutus is falling off to sleep, the Ghost enters. We
would assume that the ghost is just a figment of Brutus conscience,
since Brutus dealt the killing blow to Cesar, even though they were
close friends. They have a short conversation, but when Brutus asks
when he will see the Ghost of Cesar again the Ghost replies To thee
thou shalt see me at Phillip (Shakespeare Julius Cesar 4.3 290). This
short quote means a lot, even though it is probable that Brutus own
conscience created the Ghost of Cesar in his mind. The quote tells us
that since Brutus is going into the battle, he will die, and be reunited
with the Ghost of Cesar. The ghost is a supernatural being that
Shakespeare uses to create dread in the audiences mind because it
foreshadows the death of Brutus, a noble man. The ghost leads the
story on, and increases the curiosity and the suspense in the audience.

Throughout his play, Shakespeare uses superstitious and


supernatural events to foreshadow events and create vivid images of
the future in the audiences mind. From Calpurnias dream of the
future, to the intense storm, even the dead spirits that walked the
streets of Rome and slaves with their hands of fire. These all moved
the play along and created a different mood in the play. Shakespeare
uses these strange and unnatural events to create suspense. It gives
the audience information about the play and makes the audience think
deeply about what is really happening, because the use of superstition
and the supernatural is indirect. The supernatural and superstitious
events help make the play more interesting and foreshadow towards
the bigger events in the story. It helps build up the story and adds a
new dimension to the tragic history of Julius Cesar. The play Julius
Cesar wouldnt have been the same without Shakespeares quirky use
of superstitious and supernatural events.