Julius Caesar Teaching Guide
- 12 pages
- Subject: Allusion, Character Analysis, Historical Context, Literary Devices, Plot, Themes, Lesson Plans and Educational Resources
- Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12
Additional Julius Caesar Resources
So you’re going to teach The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Shakespeare’s classic drama has been a mainstay in English classes for generations. Whether it’s the first or hundredth time you take students through the play, these teaching tips will help ensure that the experience is rewarding for everyone, including you. Teaching Julius Caesar, especially from a new perspective, will give students insight into the play’s universal themes and help them develop an understanding of Shakespeare’s artistry as a playwright and also as a poet, for numerous passages in the text are rich with poetic devices. Let’s look at things to keep in mind before you take your students into Shakespeare’s dramatic telling of the political intrigue and personal tragedy of Caesar’s assassination in Rome in 44 BCE and the events that followed.
About This Document
Owl Eyes Teaching Guides have been designed to help first-time and veteran teachers open up classic works of literature for their students. Our guides provide rich background information, identify key themes and topics, and offer creative and practical approaches to teaching the text.
The main components of each guide include the following:
- A concise history of the text
- An explanation of significant allusions
- Teaching approaches and discussion questions
- Tricky issues to address while teaching
- Alternative teaching approaches
- A list of complementary texts
These Teaching Guides offer valuable context and promote meaningful discussions about novels, plays, poems, and stories that have captivated English Language Arts students for generations. Each guide is comprehensive and concise, thought-provoking and practical.
Approaches and Discussion Questions Excerpt
Motifs Underscoring Themes in the Play: Several motifs appear throughout the play emphasizing major themes in the text. Frequently the motifs are images or ideas that are repeated at key points in the plot. Examine how these motifs relate to the development of themes in the play: deceit, darkness and shadows, and omens.
- For discussion: Which characters deceive others? Describe how and why each of them chooses to engage in deception. Are there justifiable reasons for each character’s deceitful behavior?
- For discussion: Which scenes in the play are set in darkness and shadows? What is happening or about to happen in the plot when the scenes are thus staged? What are the connotations of darkness and shadows? What ideas do they suggest regarding the characters in the scenes and their activities?
- For discussion: What omens occur before and after Caesar’s assassination? Which of them seems to warn of Caesar’s impending death? Which of them seems to occur in response to Caesar’s murder? How might these omens be described? What atmosphere do they create in the scenes where they occur or are discussed?
- For discussion: How do these motifs relate to the themes of honor, ambition, or regicide?
Additional Discussion Questions
- Contrast Brutus’s speech at Caesar’s funeral with Antony’s. How does Brutus rely on logic to explain Caesar’s assassination? How does Antony appeal to emotion to turn the crowd against the conspirators? What other persuasive techniques does Antony employ in his oration? Why is Antony’s speech more persuasive than Brutus’s?
- Which scenes in the play depict the behavior of the commoners? How are they depicted as a social class? What are some details in the text that suggest commoners are not to be admired?
- Examine instances of psychological manipulation that advance the plot. Which characters use psychology to manipulate someone else to achieve a hidden objective? Whom do they manipulate, and how do they do it?
- How does Shakespeare infuse the play with irony? What are some examples of situational irony, dramatic irony, and verbal irony in various scenes? How do dramatic irony and verbal irony contribute to the creation of suspense in several scenes?
- Examine the role of women in the play. How are Calpurnia and Portia alike? How could each woman’s relationship with her husband be described? What do Calpurnia and Portia contribute to the play?
- The soothsayer and Artemidorus are both minor characters. In which scenes do they appear? How does each of them play a role in creating suspense as the plot unfolds?
- Consider Brutus as the play’s tragic hero. What is the fatal flaw in his character that leads to his own destruction?
- Define blank verse for students. Which parts of the text are written in blank verse? Which parts are not written in blank verse? Why does Shakespeare write passages of exposition as blank verse?