Julius Caesar Essay Outline

The following paper topics are based on the entire play. Following each topic is a thesis and sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.

Topic #1
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This statement by Lord Acton, sent in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887, provides the basis for understanding the effects of power on the heads of state, and it furnishes an insight into one of the main themes in the play Julius Caesar.

Write a paper that shows how power affects the characters, the events, and the outcome of the play.

I. Thesis Statement: Julius Caesar is a play that illustrates the theme expressed by Lord Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This can be illustrated by studying the actions of the main characters in the play.

II. Background
A. Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus rule Rome (triumvirate)
B. Power struggle between Pompey and Caesar
C. Civil war ends with the death of Pompey
D. Caesar’s rise to power

III. Concern for the Republic and Caesar’s growing power
A. Flavius and Marullus disperse the crowd to minimize Caesar’s power base and protect the Roman Republic
B. A view of Caesar’s power on the feast of Lupercal, how he deals with Calphurnia and Antony

IV. The Conspiracy against Caesar
A. Cassius and Brutus discuss what must be done to prevent Caesar from destroying Rome
1. Cassius—wants personal power
2. Brutus—wants the good of Rome
3. Cassius exploits his power over Brutus by forging letters that will sway him
B. Brutus joins the plot to prevent Caesar’s abuse of power and Brutus assumes the leadership, imposing his wishes on the others
C. The conspirators have the power of life and death in Rome and they decide who will live and who will die

V. The Assassination
A. Caesar’s death causes a power struggle in Rome as the conspirators become the new leaders
B. Brutus’ funeral speech and his rise to power as the crowds want to make him king
C. Antony’s funeral speech and his rise to power unleashing the mob on Rome for his personal reasons

VI. The Aftermath in Rome
A. Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus are changed by their new- found power
1. They make a death list to consolidate their power in Rome
2. They change Caesar’s will and his generous legacy to Rome
3. Antony’s abuse of Lepidus for his political ends
B. The growing conflict between Antony and Octavius

VII. The Aftermath in Greece
A. The conflict between Brutus and Cassius
B. The impending war

VIII. The Civil War
A. The deaths of Brutus and Cassius
B. Antony and Octavius rise to power

Topic #2
Any analysis of Julius Caesar would not be complete without considering the matter of subjective interpretation. Throughout the play characters and events are judged not by what is actually happening, but by one or more characters’ interpretation of these things.

Write a paper that examines these subjective interpretations of characters and events throughout the play, providing examples to support your conclusions.

I. Thesis Statement: Understanding Julius Caesar depends on realizing that the audience’s attitude toward the characters, and the events of the play, are not rooted in reality, but in a subjective interpretation of reality.

II. Act I
A. Flavius and Marullus paint a biased and negative picture of Caesar based...

(The entire section is 1508 words.)

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar: Writing Assessment


This writing assessment is a measure of your ability to use academic knowledge and skills to write about important concepts in the play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and in Shakespearean drama. Your essay will be scored according to the Gateway rubric. This student test packet includes your writing task and documents which will help you recall information from your study of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. In order to receive a passing score, your essay must contain information from your study (your prior knowledge) as well as information from the documents. DO NOT COPY the documents word for word. Be sure to credit the source of any information quoted directly or paraphrased from any document.

Please review the following steps to help you complete this test.

Analysis of Key Characters in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar


William Shakespeare never wrote a play about a contemporary subject; most of his plays are based on stories that were already well known to his audiences. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is taken from accounts of the lives of Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus, Caius Cassius, and Marc Antony which were written in a book called The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans by Plutarch sometime between A.D. 46 and A.D. 120. Plutarch originally titled his book Parallel Lives because of the similarities between these great leaders. His depictions of these men, and many others, are still used today as an important record of history.

Respond to the following essay topic:

Documents A through E relate to this topic:

Document E: Any lines from the text: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Specifically, however, we have studied one speech per major character, listed as follows with Poetry Genius link and page numbers in the parallel text:

1. Cassius (Pages 36-39, begins at line 142 in textbook): "Masters Of Their Fates" Speech

2. Brutus (Pages 82-85 in parallel text, lines 169-190): "Our Course Will Seem Too Bloody" Speech

3. Caesar (Pages 40-42 in parallel text, lines 205-221): "Would He Were Fatter" Speech

4. Antony (Parallel Text: p. 156-159, lines 79-113): "Lend Me Your Ears" Speech

Therefore, it makes the most sense to use the Poetry Genius speeches and the document A, B, C, or D which corresponds to your choice of character as the MAIN places you are getting your evidence from. You can use other portions of the text if you wish, but make what we have already studied your PRIMARY “go to” passages. Any Poetry Genius annotations you wish to cite will be labeled as Document E.

How to cite or use documentation:
Use the documents provided to develop your answer. Be sure to cite all sources used as evidence in your paper:

Outline: Due Wednesday 3/26

Outline: Writing Task
Write an analysis of one of the major characters where you carefully describe, using examples from your documents, at least 2 of the following 3 things: 1) the character’s personal and political beliefs 2) the character’s motives for making the choices he makes 3) the character’s use of persuasion/rhetorical techniques in the play.

First Draft: Using your outline, you will write your first draft of your paper in whatever format you wish.

Writing Checklist/Revise

Final Draft: Due Friday April 4

Will be posted as a NEW TEXT on Poetry Genius!


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