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PLOT (STRUCTURE) ANALYSIS
Julius Caesar has a straightforward and well-developed plot, created in the usual Aristotelian manner. The introduction of the first act presents all the major characters, either in person or in conversation, and the conflict is established. Julius Caesar's victory over the sons of Pompey and his popular approval with the Roman citizens is introduced; however, hints of opposition to his becoming the Roman dictator are clearly presented.
The rising action quickly builds through the second and third acts until the climax occurs late in the third act. Cassius establishes a conspiracy against Caesar and manipulates Brutus into joining the plot. Brutus' decision to align with the conspirators is a crucial moral choice and results in Caesar's death, as well as his own. Following the climax, the murder of Caesar, the falling action is extended through the fourth and fifth acts because of the civil strife that naturally develops out of Caesar's murder. Antony and Octavius must fight Brutus and Cassius to maintain control of Rome. When they realize they are losing the fight, both Brutus and Cassius kill themselves in order to avoid the same of capture and imprisonment. The conclusion clearly established Octavius and Antony as the victors and the new leaders of Rome. Caesar's murder is avenged, and there is hope that order will be restored.
Closely related to the main plot of the play is a subplot that revolves around Brutus. In the introduction, he is presented as a man of principle and a friend of Julius Caesar. In the rising action that follows, Brutus is fearful that Caesar will become tyrannical in his rule and harm Rome. As a result of his fears, Brutus is tricked into joining Cassius and the conspirators; it is a difficult decision for him, and he struggles for an entire act in coming to his decision, which will prove his undoing. He joins in the assassination, truly believing that he is acting for the benefit of Rome. Not wanting the conspirators to seem like butchers, he refuses to allow Antony to be killed as well. He also agrees that Antony should be granted the privilege of speaking at Caesar's funeral. Both decisions add to the rising action, but lead to Brutus' downfall. Brutus willingly goes into battle with the conspirators, hopeful of success and believing that their victory will return peace and order to Rome. During the civil strife that follows, he begins to realize that Cassius has acted out of his own desire for power.
Realizing his mistake and knowing the cause of the conspirators is hopeless, he reaches his own personal climax by deciding to take his own life by running on his sword. The brief falling action following his decision shows that Brutus still deludes himself into believing that history will vindicate him and judge has actions as honorable. In truth, the conclusion reveals that only the enemy sees his worth as an honorable man who has acted out of principle and a love for Rome.
It is clear that both the main plot and the subplot end as tragedies with both protagonists succumbing to their antagonist. In the main plot, Julius Caesar is murdered, and Rome is thrown into turmoil. In the subplot, Brutus realizes his error in joining the conspirators and takes his own life. The only positive ray in the entire play is the fact that at the end there is hope that Rome may again find peace and order since the civil strife has come to an end.