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A Guide to Teaching Julius Caesar at GCSE

| Tuesday January 31, 2012

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, EDEXCEL GCSE, OCR GCSE, Drama, Julius Caesar, Hot Entries, Shakespeare, Shakespeare's Plays, AQA English Literature, Unit 4 Approaching Shakespeare, Edexcel English Literature, Unit 3 Shakespeare and Contemporary Drama, OCR GCSE English, Unit A641 Reading Literary Texts, OCR GCSE English Literature, Unit A661

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This guide has been written to help teachers in their reading, preparation and teaching of the play. Julius Caesar can be taught as a part of several exam board English Literature units:

  • AQA GCSE English Literature 4710 | Unit 4: Approaching Shakespeare & the English Literary Heritage
  • AQA GCSE English 4700 | Unit 3 Understanding and producing creative texts
  • OCR GCSE English Literature | 2.1 Unit A661: Literary Heritage Linked Texts
  • OCR GCSE English | Unit A641 Reading literary texts
  • Edexcel GCSE English Literature | Unit 3: Shakespeare and Contemporary Drama

Guide Navigation

Act 1 | Act 2 | Act 3 | Act 4 | Act 5

Background

In the play, written in 1599, Shakespeare portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against Julius Caesar, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi.

Although the title of the play is “Julius Caesar?, Caesar is not the protagonist in the play and he appears in only three scenes; in fact, he is killed at the beginning of Act 3. The protagonist of the play is Brutus, and the central drama is his struggle between the conflicting demands of honour, patriotism, and friendship.

Act 1

Act 1 scene 1

A great feast is held in Caesar’s honour.
Not everyone is delighted at the public’s praising of Caesar.

The play opens with two ‘tribunes’, Flavius and Marullus, shouting at the assembled masses who are on the streets to celebrate Caesar’s triumphs. Tribunes were official representatives of the people; here they are shown opposing Caesar because he wants absolute power and to be king.  Rome was a republican state and the tribunes want to uphold the republic.

The opening scene of a Shakespearean play has two functions:

  1. It must make an immediate and powerful appeal to the audience’s attention.  By having the characters shouting at the commoners, Shakespeare attracts the audience’s attention and gets them to quieten down.  The word-play between the tribunes and ‘the cobbler’...

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