GREAT CAESAR’SGHOST!Brandy Stark, PhDApril 9, 2013
BACKGROUND Written in early 1599 Aging Elizabeth, childless, questions of succession• Similar to Caesar• Both ascended during political chaos and created stabilization, growth• What might happen afterward? Tensions existing and fear of another civilwar in England• Fear of civil war/instability• Like Rome, England went through periods of instability• Reliant upon Elizabeth and her long reign
BACKGROUND Middle Ages: Ghosts are from Purgatory; many ghost stories abound Protestant Reformation• Catholic Church: Council of Trent (1545 – 1563): Purgatoryunchanged (96)• Post Martin Luther’s attack on Indulgences, Purgatory open toattack.• Protestants denied it; only heaven or hell Church of Englanddrops Purgatory in 1563 Debate relates to Bible (Samuel and Saul)
BACKGROUND Shakespeare is known to have read:• The Discovery of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot (1584)• Focused on witchcraft craze, unfounded beliefs and injustice ofpunishment• Included a chapter on ghosts; he ridiculed those who denied devilsor spirits at all, but also mocked the over-promotion of ghosts byCatholic scholars• Claimed apparitions arose from melancholy, timidity, imperfection of sight,drunkenness, false reports, etc.• A Declaration of Egregious Popishe Impostures by Samuel Harsnett• Skeptical arguments on the Catholic Church, witchcraft andghosts (Muir 232; Marshall 145)
GHOSTS IN DRAMA Elizabethan Drama: drew from history, pop-religion and localfolklore(Rogers 88; Stoll 205)• Ghosts with a purpose: revenge remained a major topic alongwith protection of loved one, prophesy, requesting burial, or asan omen of death• Hails from Seneca; often (over)used in drama of Middle Ages• Lost some of the melodrama: less crude, heightened theimaginative horror of them; rejection of the shrieking, bustlingghost of the older style
EXAMPLES OF GHOSTS INSHAKESPEARE Hamlet:• Ghost seen by guards; skeptical Horatio also sees and attempts to speak tothe ghost (fails)• Clearly identified as the murdered king through appearance (others identifyhim) and through self-admission• When asked by Hamlet to speak, ghost describes himself as having to spend aperiod of time as a ghost (Purgatory)• Hamlet converses with ghost who describes his own murder and calls forrevenge upon his murderer• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZQ5ryS-YvM
EXAMPLES OF GHOSTS INSHAKESPEARE Macbeth:• Banquet scene: Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo who was murdered atMacbeth’s orders on the way to the feast• No one but Macbeth sees the spirit which sits in his chair• Excuses are made that the king is tired• Rebuked by Lady Macbeth• Has to admit to a “strange infirmity”• Ghost does not speak• Macbeth has additional hallucinations of the dagger/bloody dagger• (Side note: As with Julius Caesar there are prophecies and portents that aremisinterpreted)• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nre482NEosQ
EXAMPLES OF GHOSTS INSHAKESPEARE Richard III• Sees the ghost of Prince Edward, whom Richard assassinated• Ghost appears when Richard is alone and asleep in bed• Manifests by the bedside• Classical (Patroclus to Achilles)• No one else experiences the ghost; his restless state isContrasted to others who sleep well• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX8zbNEw448
SHAKESPEARE’SPARANORMAL TWIST Always a reason for their appearance Ghosts show reason in their acts (Rogers 88)• Revenge (as derived from history and drama prior to the time)• Draws from folklore Used “explanatory ambiguities” (Marshall 147, Hudson)• Macbeth: hallucinations from guilt, other apparitions are conjured by witches.• In Richard III and Cymbeline: dreams• Hamlet: Shade is from Purgatory (audience is Protestant; perhaps a tendency todisbelieve this statement); most like a modern manifestation of a ghost Symbolic interpretation: manifestations of disorder in this world, especiallypolitics (148)
A LOOK AT GREATCAESAR’S GHOSTWilliam Humphrys after Richard Westall. Brutus andthe ghost of Caesar (Julius Caesar IV.iii). Print, 1832Cited as one of the mostuninteresting ofShakespeare’s ghosts (Rogers79).Is this true?
PLUTARCH’S ACCOUNTHistorical Reference: PLUTARCH’S ACCOUNTBrutus being to pass his army from Abydos to the continent on the other side, laid himself downone night, as he used to do, in his tent, and was not asleep, but thinking of his affairs, and whatevents he might expect. For he is related to have been the least inclined to sleep of all men whohave commanded armies, and to have had the greatest natural capacity for continuing awake,and employing himself without need of rest. He thought he heard a noise at the door of histent, and looking that way, by the light of his lamp, which was almost out, saw a terriblefigure, like that of a man, but of unusual stature and severe countenance. He wassomewhat frightened at first, but seeing it neither did nor spoke anything to him, onlystood silently by his bed-side, he asked who it was. The specter answered him, "Thy evilgenius, Brutus, thou shalt see me at Philippi." Brutus answered courageously, "Well, Ishall see you," and immediately the appearance vanished. When the time was come, he drewup his army near Philippi against Antony and Caesar, and in the first battle won the day, routedthe enemy, and plundered Caesars camp. The night before the second battle, the samephantom appeared to him again, but spoke not a word. He presently understood hisdestiny was at hand, and exposed himself to all the danger of the battle. Yet he did not diein the fight, but seeing his men defeated, got up to the top of a rock, and there presentinghis sword to his naked breast, and assisted, as they say, by a friend, who helped him togive the thrust, met his death.http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_plutarch_caesar.htm
THE SCENEAct 4, Scene 3, Lines 275 – 285Enter the Ghost of CAESAR.BRUTUS: How ill this taper burns! Ha! who comes here?I think it is the weakness of mine eyesThat shapes this monstrous apparition.It comes upon me. Art thou any thing?Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil,That makest my blood cold and my hair to stare?Speak to me what thou art.GHOST: Thy evil spirit, Brutus.BRUTUS: Why comest thou?GHOST: To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.BRUTUS: Well; then I shall see thee again?GHOST: Ay, at Philippi.BRUTUS: Why, I will see thee at Philippi, then.Exit Ghost.(Full scene: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_4_3.html)
THE SCENE 1950s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owxP0h0Lw1s Africa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xNhBAU6sZQ(4 minutes)
GHOSTLY Characteristics that match ghostly folklore:• The ghost generally does not speak until bidden to speak (Stoll 218)• Speaks single phrases (pamphlet literature) (Purkiss 143)• There is a vendetta that brings Caesar (confrontation of act of murder)• Oracle – and the ghost breaks off at the tantalizing moment (Stoll 217)• The ghost speaks, not in a dream, and Brutus does not doubt that theghost is there (228); murdered speaking to murderer• Concrete representations of the blood-feud carried beyond theconfines of the grave (229)
PSYCHOLOGICAL Characteristics of psychological manifestation: Caesar’s ghost appears as an abstraction of Brutus• Mesmerized• Echoes in dialogue Refers to himself as “thy evil spirit” (4.3.280) Only Brutus witnesses the shade Emotional turmoil (distress) in the prior scene (Portia’s death and after afight/make up with Cassius) Brutus kills himself citing Caesar’s ghost (Purkiss 145)• “Caesar now be still/I killed not thee with half so good a will”(5.5.50-1)• Image: Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre at Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland. (April 2007) Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/theater-dance/stage-review-pict-praises-julius-caesar-on-grand-scale-481362/#ixzz2PF3H8MxH
SYMBOLIC5.1.30 – 35I draw a sword against conspirators;When think you that the sword goes upagain?Never, till Caesars three and thirtywoundsBe well avenged; or till another Caesarhave added slaughter to the sword oftraitors.Act 5: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/act5-script-text-julius-caesar.htm• Caesar is power• Legitimate succession/shiftof power must go toAugustus; all others suffer(Rosen xix)• Octavius identifies with thespirit of Caesar• Revenge• Spiritual heir• Deaths of conspirators bringspolitical restoration• Shakespeare/Elizabethans:“Established order ispreferable to chaotic andviolent change” (Rosen xxi)
THOUGHTSWhat is your take on Great Caesar’sGhost? Is he a ghost, a figment of aguilty mind, or a symbol? Is he all ornone of these? Why?
WORKS CONSULTEDBrockett, Oscar G., and Franklin J. Hildy. History of the Theatre. New York: Pearson, 2007. Print.Felton, D. Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity. Austin: University of Texas, 2000. Print.Finucane, R. C. Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts. London: Junction, 1982. Print.Hudson, H.N. Shakespeare: His Life, Art and Characters: An Historical Sketch of the Origin and Growth of the Drama in England. Vol. 2, 4th ed.Boson: Ginn & Company, 1891. 228-258. Print.Marshall, Jonathan Paul, Dr. "Apparitions, Ghosts, Fairies, Demons and Wild Events: Virtuality in Early Modern Britain." Journal for theAcademic Study of Magic 3 (2006): 141-74. Print.Muir, Kenneth. "Folklore and Shakespeare." Folklore 92.2 (1981): 231-40. Print.Plutarch. Julius Caesar. Trans. S. H. Butcher. Ancient/Classical History. About.com, d.u. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_plutarch_caesar.htmPurkiss, Diane. “Shakespeare, Ghosts, and Popular Folklore”. Shakespeare and Elizabethan Popular Culture. Stuart Gillespie and Niel Rhodes,Ed. London: Thompson, 2006. PrintRoberts, Jon. Introduction: Lunatics and Lovers. Midsummer Night’s Dream. Betram et al, eds. New York: Quality Paperback Books Club,1997. v – ix. Print.Rogers, L. W. The Ghosts in Shakespeare. 4th printing ed. Wheaten: Theosophical, 1966. Print.Rosen, William and Barbara. Introduction. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. New York: Signet Classics, 1998. Xiii- xxii. Print.Stoll, Elmer Edgar. "The Objectivity of the Ghosts in Shakespeare." Modern Language Association 22.2 (1907): 201-33. Print.