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on April 14, 2000
This was the first play performed at the Globe Theatre. For that reason alone, this play deserves special attention. But the characters, the language, and this interesting situation represent Shakespeare's finest efforts. Cassius is ruthless with a malicious attitude. But he honestly fears what Caesar will do if he is crowned. Brutus is a good and honest man. He contemplates joining Cassius to kill Caesar despite the fact that Caesar loves him as a friend. (In history as well, Caesar was notably kind to Brutus.) But yet he too fears that if Caesar is crowned, Rome will bleed. Mark Antony is convincing as Caesar's loyal aid who SEEMS insignificant at first. But after Caesar is killed, he emerges as the most powerful and intelligent character in the play. What makes this play so phenomenal is that we can easily understand and sympathize with any of these major characters. (Even though they are on opposite sides.) What's left? Only chilling omens like the Soothsayer, the storm, the ghost of Caesar, etc. Only memorable passages like Mark Antony's famous 'honorable' speech. If you like this play, I suggest the B & W version where James Mason does Brutus, John Gielgud does Cassius, and Marlon Brando does Mark Antony.
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on January 9, 2001
I like Shakespeare, but find his language hard to decipher at times. Standard texts have footnotes to help you to understand how he uses certain words, but after looking up a few dozen of these, I find myself starting to lose the thread of the story line. The "Shakespeare Made Easy" approach has been a godsend for me. Now, whenever I run into a difficult passage, I can glance over to the other side of the book and read the same passage in plain English. A light bulb blinks on, and I say, "Aha! That's what this means!" Unfamiliar words are instantly translated for me as I see them in the context of a passage which I now understand fully. I've read Julius Caesar three or four times previously, but never so fluidly and with such enjoyment and understanding as I just did with the help of the "Shakespeare Made Easy" book.
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Gaius Julius Cæsar is the Caesar we think of when we hear the word "Caesar" -- he conquered Gaul, bedded Cleopatra, and died a pretty dramatic death. And while he only appears in a few scenes of "Julius Caesar," he's the nucleus that William Shakespeare's taut conspiracy play revolves around -- his murder, his legacy, and the bitter jealousy he inspired.

Julius Caesar is returning to Rome in triumph, only to be stopped by a strange old soothsayer who warns him, "Beware the ides of March." Caesar brushes off the warning, but he has no idea that a conspiracy is brewing under his nose. In a nutshell, a group of senators led by the creepy Cassius are plotting against Caesar because of his wild popularity, suspecting that he wants to become KING.

And Cassius' latest target: Brutus, one of Caesar's best buddies. Brutus is slowly swayed over to the conspiracy's side, beginning to believe that Caesar as a great man corrupted by power. Everything comes to a a devastating assassination on... guess when... the ides of March, which will elevate some men to greatness and destroy others.

Though the story is supposedly about Julius Caesar, Caesar himself only has a few scenes -- but his charismatic, dominating presence hangs over the play like a heavy tapestry. What he does, what he plans, what he thinks and who he is are constantly on people's minds, and even after his death he is a powerful presence in the memories of the living.

And Shakespeare cooks up a dialogue-heavy play that is a bit on the slow side, but whose speeches are so powerful and intense that you don't quite notice. There's a lot of those speeches here -- not only Antony's famous speech to the Roman people ("The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones"), but Brutus' impassioned argument with Portia ("You have some sick offence within your mind") and Cassius' oily slanted editorials about Caesar.

Shakespeare's depiction of Brutus is also a beautifully nuanced one -- Antony calls him the "noblest Roman of them all" at the very end, despite the fact that Brutus calmly murdered his friend and leader. He's basically a gullible guy who follows his passions rather than his brain, and bounces into the conspiracy rather than trying to find out the truth about Caesar. You feel sorry for him, and at the same time you want the much smarter Antony to kick him like a soccer ball.

"Julius Caesar" is rather slow-moving, but Shakespeare's powerful writing and nuanced depiction of Brutus more than make up for that. Friends, Romans, countrymen...
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VINE VOICEon January 8, 2003
I think is one of Skakespheare's best plays because it contains some of the best monologues in it. Who can forget Mark Antony's speech to the mob as he deftly manipulates them into rioting and turning against Brutus? Or Brutus' soul searching monologue as he decides to kill Caesar saying that he has civil war inside himself. Or Cassius's effeminate whining about how Brutus does not trust him anymore? Or Caesar's mentioning that Cassius is too skinny and reads too much and therefore he does not trust him.
The characters also stand out colorfully. We get the pompous Caesar referring to himself in the 3rd person all the time. We have the conniving and corrupt Cassius who overthrows Caesar for all the wrong reasons, mainly envy. We have the honorable Brutus who kills Caesar because he can't stand tyrants. We have the smooth-talking Mark Antony who slyly plots against the rebels. These characters interplay well with one another, giving a lot of life and energy to the play.
And then there's the almost politically nihilistic theme in which people plot and scheme for power or for idealistic reasons, but in the end this scheming benefits no one--civil war starts and lot of blood is shed. One gets the impression that Skakespheare does not like tyrannical autocracy but neither does he like the mob rule of democracy. He likes an noble aristocracy that looks after the common good, not just themselves. But Brutus is the only noble comes close to being noble and he ends up dead. Caesar is tyrannical and pompous, Cassius is mere conniver, and Mark Antony is just a playboy that is upset that his friend Caesar is dead.
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on May 3, 1999
I used this book along with the original to help me study for my test on Julius Caesar. I was having trouble understanding it, but this book put it into terms I could understand, without losing the actual meaning! I really recommend it!
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on July 14, 2008
My aim is to cover shakespeare this year with my 9th grader (I home-school). I purchased this book along with "Twelfth Night". I am so happy I did. The whole original text is included along with a translation of the play in todays english. At the end of the book there are MANY, MANY exercises and tests for the student to complete to ensure they have understood what they read. With this book, you can literally give it to your child and leave them to it. Obviously, you may need to give some guidance along the way, but it will be minimal. A homeschooler's dream because there is very little lesson prep. I will definately be buying other titles in this series!
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on February 23, 2001
I recently read this book in my 9th grade english class and to tell you the truth I was amazed by this piece of littiture that William Shakespear has written. This book impressed me so much I am going to read more of his work. This book is a tradgey on Julius Caesar. This book is basically about killing Caesar and when Caesar gets killed by the conspirators the readers get to read about Mark Anthony's revenge.
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on January 17, 1999
Once again, Shakespeare writes another masterpiece!!! At times I was scared, and others I was nervous. I couldn't help but read this story all at once. I never set it down for a minute! I recommend this play for the light reader, or even for the hardcore Skakespeare fan!
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on January 21, 2015
Surprisingly, our kids (teens) LIKED THIS!
Our kids liked William Shakespeare!
Heck... I am going to write this again because it just feels so good: OUR KIDS LIKED SHAKESPEARE!!!!!
LOL... I still can't believe this!
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on October 4, 2015
I downloaded this order and when I read to Act 4 it changed to another Shakespeare play - not Julius Caesar! What in the world? I kept going and in the middle of Act 5 it changes back to Julius Caesar? Wierd
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