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Barron's Booknotes-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
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LINES 295-322

Brutus calls Casca a dull-witted fellow. Cassius explains that Casca only pretends to be coarse and stupid so that people will listen to him. Cassius, the "great observer," understands such men, who use words to manipulate feelings, and pretend to be what they are not. Brutus, on the other hand, sees language as a way of expressing and communicating the truth, and is therefore easily fooled by people who use words as political weapons. How can he recognize irony when he is incapable of it himself? How can he recognize and deal with evil when he himself (some say) is such a noble man?

Cassius recognizes Brutus' dilemma:

Well, Brutus, thou are noble; yet I see Thy honorable mettle may be wrought From that it is disposed; therefore it is meet That noble minds keep ever with their likes; For who so firm that cannot be seduced?



Act I, Scene ii, lines 308-312

It is difficult to tell whether Cassius is delighted or saddened by his ability to "seduce" his noble friend-read the lines aloud and decide which interpretation seems more natural to you. In either case, Cassius comes across as a serpent seducing Innocence. If lie succeeds, Innocence will be cursed for succumbing to an evil it does not understand. That may very well be the tragedy of Shakespeare's play.

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Barron's Booknotes-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
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