Throughout Shakespeare’s play Caesar demonstrates both tyrannical and non tyrannical instincts in such a way that it is difficult to reach a decision on whether Caesar wanted control of Rome or not. This made Brutus’ choice to kill him hard to justify. In scene one Caesar gives both reason for being power hungry but also for not wanting the crown. In this scene Caesar is offered the crown three times by Mark Anthony. Each time he denied the crown more willingly. This suggests that he actually did want the crown to be laid upon his head. This can be supported in the way that Caesar and the crowd reacted.
The crowd were very pleased that he denied the crown. This annoyed Caesar, possibly because he wanted the crown, and caused him to faint. In this way he displayed tyrannical instincts. On the other hand this scene could be viewed in an entirely different way. The fact that Caesar denied the crown three times albeit each time more unwillingly could be interpreted as Caesar not wanting power. However, I think that the evidence in this scene for Caesar being tyrannical outweighs the evidence against. In act 1 scene 2 Caesar gives evidence for how he thinks of himself as a god.
In this scene I think he is trying to make himself sound invincible which could be a characteristic of a god. ‘Yet if my name were liable to fear. ‘ With these words Caesar describes himself as a man that knows no fear. This is another way in which he displayed tyrannical instincts. Caesar also ignores the soothsayers warning. In a way this helps to prove Brutus’ latter comment that Caesar wouldn’t listen if he had power. Even with no power Caesar is ready to ignore people, not listen and do as he pleases. These are typical characteristics of a tyrant. It also makes him seem more invincible in the way that he doesn’t eed anyone else’s help.
Caesar also turns away the help of two other characters Calphurnia and Artemidorus. In act 2 scene 2 Caesar is warned not to go to the senate by his wife Calphurnia after she has a bad dream which she thinks is a bad omen. At first Caesar pays no attention. He claims that he is more dangerous than danger itself. In saying this he is making himself sound god like and better than the ordinary. Caesar also makes another comment in this scene in an attempt to make him sound God like. Calphurnia is sure her dream plus other strange happenings in Rome can only mean disaster.
Caesar however, arrogantly elieves that in ‘The face of Caesar, they (these threatening things) are vanished’. I think that this can be seen as tyrannical behaviour. However, another side to Caesar’s habit for not listening and ignoring people can make him seem non tyrannical. In act 3 scene 1 at the senate where Caesar ignores the warning from Artemidorus Caesar speaks the words, ‘What touches us ourself shall be last served’. In saying this Caesar is indicating that whatever circumstances that will affect him shall be dealt with last. This means that he is not worrying for himself but for what may be concern for others.
In other words it seems as if Caesar is concerned with the fate of Rome, not himself. This behaviour is not typical of a tyrant and consequently gives evidence that Caesar did not have tyrannical instincts. Furthermore the speeches of other characters also provide evidence for Caesar having tyrannical instincts. Words from Cassius in act 1 scene 2 also help give evidence that Caesar looks upon himself as better than the people of Rome. ‘ Like a Collosus; and we petty men Walk under his huge legs, and peep about To find ourselves dishonourable graves’ With this Cassius is saying how
Caesar has become like collosus which was a huge statue and how the insignificant men wander beneath his legs searching for dishonourable graves. This means that he sees himself as better than ordinary men. In argument to this it can be said that when Cassius said this he was trying to persuade Brutus to help himself and the conspirators kill Caesar. On top of this Cassius also showed signs of jealousy towards Caesar. Consequently it is possible that this source of evidence has been exaggerated by Cassius in order to achieve a better result. Brutus makes the decision that Caesar must die because his ambition is too angerous.
In act 2 scene 1 he describes how once Caesar has control he will not listening and will abuse his power. Brutus gets this across to the audience with a metaphor. He describes Caesar as a serpent in a shell. Unhatched he is harmless but as soon he is hatched he will become mischievous. Although this evidence gives good proof that Caesar had tyrannical instincts and only wanted power it must be realised that Brutus said this. This means that it is based on Brutus’ opinion of Caesar and could not be entirely true. It could just be Brutus’ justification for killing Caesar.
On the other hand it is made clear that for this reason Caesar had to be killed. As Brutus felt so sure about this then it could be seen as quite genuine evidence for Caesar being tyrannical. It can also be argued that Brutus was right in saying that Caesar doesn’t listen. This is proved countless times by Caesar when he turns away other characters’ words of help. Another way in which Caesar shows his tyrannical instincts is in act 2 scene 2. In this scene Caesar has been persuaded by his wife not to go to the senate. However, when Decius arrives he tells Caesar that the senate are going to offer him the crown.
On hearing this Caesar changes his mind and decides to go to the senate. The way in which Caesar changed his mind on the mention that he would be crowned proves that he wanted the crown and that he want control of Rome. After Caesar’s death his will is read out to a crowd of people by Mark Anthony in Act 3 Scene 2. The content of this will is quite strange as it gives reason for Caesar not having tyrannical instincts. In the will it is revealed that Caesar has left 75 drachmas to each person of Rome and that he has given his private gardens to the people. This can be viewed as strange as it wouldn’t be the ormal behaviour of a tyrant.
However, it could also be argued that it wouldn’t of mattered to Caesar what was in his will. By giving away money and his gardens doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a tyrant because it wouldn’t of affected him as he would’ve been dead. The content of the will would have no affected on Caesar’s hold on Rome. It is possible that the will could have been a way to enhance his image and popularity after his death. It can be seen that throughout much of the first half of the play Caesar himself and other characters give evidence of how he shows tyrannical and non yrannical instincts.
Despite the fact that Caesar does display non tyrannical instincts I think that the evidence for him being tyrannical far outweighs the evidence against. I think that the scene where Caesar denies the crown three times and then faints is one of the best examples of how he wanted the crown. The way in which he was constantly building himself up as a better person than everyone else also shows me his tyrannical instincts. Consequently I think they Brutus’ decision was right and that Caesar had tyrannical instincts which demonstrated in the play.