Essay 4 is a research essay... ='(
ENG 218- Essay 3
November 13, 2009
ENG 218- Essay 3
November 13, 2009
That Kind of Guy
Shakespeare creates an interest in his plays through the characters he uses. He does this by creating characters that his audience can relate to because their personalities and values match those of actual people they know or can easily imagine knowing. Three character types that are seen fairly often in Shakespearean plays are the “good guys”, the superstitious, and the betrayers of trust.
One type of character that Shakespeare uses in his plays is the “good guys”. Like some people in this world, Shakespeare has characters in his play that are generally innocent in their motives and are genuinely nice guys. In Julius Caesar the “good guy” is Antony and is Julius Caesar’s best friend. He is devoted and admiring of Julius Caesar but is not jealous of Caesar’s fame. This character is one the audience can either relate to a best friend it knows or to qualities it admires and would look for in the search for a best friend. King Henry V had a variety of good guys but the one that is easiest to admire is the boy. After his master died, the boy accompanied Bardolph, Nim and Pistol to the war in France. During the course of the war Shakespeare shows the audience that Bardolph, Nim and Pistol are cowardly thieves. The boy says, “As young as I am, I have observed these three swashers. I am boy to them all three, but all they three, though they would serve me, could not be man to me, for indeed three such antics do no amount to a man…I must leave them and seek some better service; their villainy goes against my weak stomach, and therefore I must cast it up.” (3.2.29-30; 3.2.51-53). Despite his lack of age this boy knows that what these three men are doing is untrustworthy and wrong chooses to not take part in such acts. Instead of being influenced by them he realizes that he needs to separate himself from these kind of people. People are constantly judged or evaluated based on their morality and choices that they make. Here Shakespeare gives the audience two completely different types of characters but characters that are very common in every day life. Every person knows a “good guy” or a “bad guy” and therefore can relate to these characters.
Another characteristic found in Shakespeare’s characters as well as people in real life is being superstitious. Superstition, whether believing it is bad luck to have a black cat cross in front of them or that believing if something goes wrong it is God’s will, is a common trait in many people. Shakespeare shows this trait in Julius Caesar, through Julius Caesar himself. Caesar’s superstitious beliefs are seen clearly when he tells Antony, “Forget not in your speed, Antonius, To touch Calphurnia, for our elders say The barren, touched in this holy chase, Shake off their sterile curse.” (Act 1 Scene 2) Here we see that Caesar, in hopes of ending his wife’s sterility he uses remedies that people recommend to him, even if it is not proven to work. On the other hand, in King Henry V, Shakespeare shows the audience that King Henry uses religion and religious law to justify his course of action. Henry wants to go to war with France to claim what he believes is his birthright. He seeks assurances from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely if he does have a right to claim this birthright and if it is God’s will or not. He relies on God’s help before the war and when Henry has victory over France he says “Yes, Captain, but with this acknowledgement, That God fought for us.” (4.8.120-121) He believes that it was not his men, or a good strategy that won the war, but God and his power. Many people, not only throughout the ages, but even today as well, believe that things happen because of luck or because God made it so. By adding these qualities to characters, Shakespeare makes them unique and more human, thus allowing the audience to relate to them.
A very common character that Shakespeare puts in his plays is someone who betrays the trust of another. In Julius Caesar, Cassius uses his influence and power of words to manipulate Brutus’s thoughts and turn him against Caesar. By doing this Cassius betrays the trust of not only Brutus but Caesar as well. He also, indirectly, betrays the trust of the people who voted him into power as a politician and believed that he was a good person of moral and was trustworthy. Brutus was manipulated by Cassius into believing that the only way to save the republic was to kill Caesar and by not only planning the assassination but taking part in it as well, Brutus betrayed Caesar’s trust of him. Caesar’s realization that Brutus has betrayed him comes in the famous line, “Et tu Bruté?” (3.1.84) In King Henry V, Nim, Pistol and Bardolph use their power of being on the winning side to steal and harass those they have conquered, thus betraying the trust associated with power and the trust of Henry, who is against such actions and expects much better conduct from his men. Though in King Henry V, the most substantial betray of trust is seen through the actions of Scroop, Cambridge and Grey. These three men were personal friends of the King. Despite this they chose to be traitors to his cause and him personally. They accepted the payment of gold for the lives and wellbeing of their fellow Englishmen as well as their king and friend. Though not literally, most if not all people have felt like they have been “stabbed in the back” by someone close. That betrayal is something that is not easily forgotten and evokes strong feeling when thought about. Shakespeare uses this to his advantage when writing plays by creating many betrayals over many different things, whether it be money, friendship, power or love.
By using characters like the “good guys,” the superstitious and those who betray others trust, Shakespeare creates a way for the audience to relate to the play he has written. He makes characters that can be easily seen as people and because of this, can be relatable and interesting to the audience. Because he could draw the audience into the story and allow it relate to the characters he created and their feelings, Shakespeare was not only successful in his day but in the present day as well.
Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear Henry V.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2004. Web.
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Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear Julius Caesar.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005.
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Shakespeare, William edited by Craik, T. W. “King Henry V.” The Arden Shakespeare,