Julius Caesar

by: William Shakespeare

Manipulation

1

Caesar cried, “Help me, Cassius, or I sink!” I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor, Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber Did I the tired Caesar. And this man Is Now become a god.(1.2.113-118)

Here, Cassius explains to Brutus why Caesar is not worthy of the crown. He tells a story of a time when Caesar dared Cassius to dive into rough waters. Both men dived into the water, but Caesar was too weak to get out alone and Cassius had to bring him to shore. It is clear that Cassius tells this story to manipulate Brutus and weaken his view of Caesar. In depicting Caesar as frail and unworthy of the position he was given in Rome, Cassius manipulates Brutus by appealing to his well-known loyalty to Rome.

2

And though we lay these honors on this man To ease ourselves of divers slanderous loads, He shall but bear them as the ass bears gold, … And having brought our treasure where we will, Then take we down his load and turn him off. (4.1.20-26)

In the final acts of the play, Antony describes to Octavius how he will use Lepidus to share the blame and help with their task, but after the deed is done, Antony will simply throw Lepidus aside. This plan speaks to Antony’s character, and reveals how he manipulates people to further his own ambitions. Even the language he uses to insult Lepidus demonstrates how Antony sees Lepidus as easy to manipulate.

3

Well, Brutus, thou art 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? Caesar doth bear me hard, but he loves Brutus. (1.2.304-309)

With these words, Cassius reveals to the audience his ambitious intentions for Brutus. Cassius, while loyal to Brutus, recognizes that he can manipulate Brutus into doing what he cannot do himself. For example, one way Cassius plans to manipulate Brutus is by throwing several forged letters through his window, each designed to encourage Brutus to rise up against Caesar. Cassius’s greatest strength comes through his ability to persuade with words. As the play continues, Cassius only begins to lose power when Brutus questions Cassius and ignores his suggestions.