The Role of Women in Julius Caesar Anirudh Iyer
The Women• The amount of female characters in the play Julius Caesar is sparse, namely two, Portia and Calpurnia.• The attribute of having a small number of female characters compared to male characters is common in Shakespeares plays
• However the short areas of the play where these women are shown are critical to the plays development.• The heinous crime committed in this play was due to the external information the conspirators receive.
• One could ask themselves how would the plot have changed if women were given a bit more dominance.• Portia and Calpurnia could have easily convinced their husbands otherwise most of the plot wouldn’t have occurred.
• The reason women are portrayed somewhat inferior to the men is not because of how they appeared in roman times.• But because of the attitude to women in the time when Shakespeare wrote the play. The Elizabethan Era
The Elizabethan Era• The Elizabethan Era was the time when England was ruled by queen Elizabeth. At this time there were extremely sexist views towards women.
Elizabethan Women• Elizabethan women were tutored at home - there were no schools for girls• Elizabethan women were not allowed to enter University• Elizabethan women could not be heirs to their fathers titles ( except female royals)• Elizabethan women could not become Doctors or Lawyers• Elizabethan women did not have the vote and were not allowed to enter politics• There were no Elizabethan women in the Army or Navy• Elizabethan women were not allowed to act in the theatres
Portia• Portia is the daughter of a famous roman general who we know opposed Caesar.• She is also Brutus’s wife and is considered his backbone and is extremely loyal to him.
• She is different to Elizabethan women as even though she doesn’t have power, she voices her opinions strongly and is sure about what is right and wrong.• She is so loyal to her husband that when she realizes that he has fallen from power, she kills herself painfully.
Calpurnia• Calpurnia makes a very brief appearance but her role is very important as it allows the viewer to finally have an insight into Caesar’s private life. (It is in fact the only time he is pictured in nightclothes)• It shows us that Calpurnia understands Caesar’s true nature for her to correctly interpret the omens.
• Caesar’s appearance in this scene is a huge contrast to the Caesar we have seen and heard about.• He seems a worried and anxious husband who is ready to please her initially.• Calpurnia also represents the fear and superstitious beliefs of the Elizabethan audience
Women of today• Women today have a lot more freedom and are not restricted to anything.• It is common to find that the woman is the chief earner of the family while the man takes care of other duties.
• They have the right to speak their mind and implement any idea they want to.• Women commonly are presidents and heads of state.
• Between Portia and Calpurnia, Portia best resembles a women of today.• She is strong and willing to speak her mind and won’t let anything come in her way.• However her loyalty to her husband is a trait not commonly found nowadays.
Conclusion• Time has passed since the Elizabethan era, but Shakespeare has managed to create such timeless female leads each with their own distinct personality who have influenced the plot greatly even due to their lack of time on screen