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Julius Caesar Essay: Gender Transformation of Caesar

Julius Caesar: Gender Transformation of Caesar

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar opens with the concurrent celebrations of Caesar’s defeat of Pompey and the annual fertility festival of Lupercal. The coupling of the two historically separate events each celebrating distinct gender roles dramatically highlights the importance of gender characterization. Rome’s patriarchal society demands a leader who embodies the virile spirit of the state with leadership marked by strength, courage, and constancy. Caesar quite fittingly assumes this role as he returns valiant and victorious from the battlefields; thus, in order to remove him the strong ruler of Rome, Caesar’s enemies must retrench his masculinity. Roman society considers women as the embodiment of weaknesses, thinking that their physical, mental, and political inferiority make them of little use beyond reproductive purposes, explaining why aspirants to the throne feminize the identity of the masculine warrior figure to position him as unfit for the crown.

The portrayal of the two female characters of the novel, Portia and Calphurnia, captures the prevailing stereotypical perceptions of women. Caesar’s wife, Calphurnia, demonstrates women’s predisposition towards fearfulness and superstition when she pleads with Caesar to remain at home after dreaming that a statue made in the likeness was Cesar pouring forth blood. Calphurnia establishes the sentiment that fear is a feminine trait with her entreaty to Caesar asking him to use her anxiety as an alibi, saying, “Do not go forth today. Call it my fear.” (2.2.50). Caesar agrees to this arrangement temporarily with a veiled acknowledgment of the reality- a rhetorical question relating to the fact that he is “afeard to tell th…

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… and Brutus. Cassius proclaims in his death “Guide thou the sword- Caesar, thou art revenged, /Eve with the sword that killed thee” (5.3.45-46). This conclusion of ultimate victory of the masculine spirit seems the only fitting outcome for Shakespeare to engineer if his play is to be a true reflection of Roman culture. Women hold value only in terms of the services that the provide which advance the interests of the masculine community, and in this case, the conspirators needed grounds to render Caesar inadequate for his position and feminizing him provides a useful mechanism in doing so. The retransformation of Caesar solidifies itself in Octavious’ declaration to the world that “This was a man!,” (5.5.75) reinforcing the notion that the masculine spirit will prevail in Roman society.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. New York: Simon, 1975.

Overcomming Obstacles in Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathebane

Overcomming Obstacles in Kaffir Boy

In the book Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathebane there are many obstacles that Mark the protagonist has to overcome. The first of his problems was to get through school in his poor South African ghetto. The second was to achieve his goal and receive a tennis scholarship to an American college.

Mark’s father is one of the major antagonist, he was opposed anything to do with Mark getting an education in a school. He was a very traditional man and he didn’t like anything that had to do with the “white man”. He thought it was nonsense to get a whiteman’s education and he wouldn’t provide the money that was necessary to get Mark through school. Mark was helped through this situation by his Mother who was the person who wanted Mark so desperately to attend school. She decided to go against Mark’s Father and send Mark to school. She then had to get a job which was illegal for her to do so because she didn’t have the required pass from the South African government. With the little money that his mother made and some money that his grandmother gave him he was

able to pay for his schooling or at least some of it. He often was without the required materials like a school uniform and books. This then resulted in Mark being beaten at school. These beatings became so intense and often that Mark thought about dropping out of school. His Mother helped him decide that he should stay in school because she knew that an education was the only way out of their life of poverty. Through the support of Mark’s Mother and grandmother Mark found success in school. He almost always was ranked in the top of his class and received scholarships to continue on in school. At the end of Mark’s schooling he receives a job offering in South Africa for him to work as a manger of the company, he decides to accept this job for the time being because his family needed the money to send his brothers and sisters to school. Mark end up successfully making it through school and ending up being one of the top in his class.

The second major conflict in the book was that Mark wanted to get a scholarship to an American college.

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