The 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...
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