Julius Caesar Study Guide: Act I
Vocabulary: Write down the definition for each of the following vocab words from Act I.
1. barren (adj)
2. blunt (adj)
3. conspirator (n)
4. countenance (n)
5. encompass (v)
6. infirmity (n)
7. portentous (adj)
8. servile (adj)
9. soothsayer (n)
10. torrent (n)
Directions: Answer each of the following questions based on your reading of Act I.
1. Explain why the working men are celebrating in the first scene. Why does Marullus reproach them?
2. What is the setting of Scene 2? What warning does the soothsayer give Caesar, and what is Caesar’s response?
3. Explain what Cassius want to convince Brutus of in Scene 2?
4. Why does Caesar, in Scene 2, think Cassius is dangerous? What qualities disturb him?
5. Describe what happens when Caesar is offered the crown, according to Casca?
6. Caesar stands astride the world as a powerful ruler, yet he suffers many personal weaknesses. Various characters will us what these are, and they say that a man who is as human as anyone else would not act life a god and rule the world. What exactly are Caesar’s infirmities and weaknesses?
7. At the end of Scene 2, how does Cassius say he will pursue his plan to involve Brutus in the conspiracy against Caesar?
8. Believing that nature mirrors the disorders in human lives, Shakespeare heightens the atmosphere of terror as the conspirators gather to discuss their plans. What details in Scene 3 do you think evoke this sense of danger and terror?
9. Who is the moving force, the protagonist, who drives the action, in Act I? By the act’s end, what steps has he taken to achieve his goal?
10. How would you describe the play’s conflict as it is established in Act I?
11. Shakespeare uses even minor conflicts and events to set up the basic situation of the play and to foreshadow future conflicts and events. Explain what you learn from this act about the moods and loyalties for the Roman mob.
12. A healthy republic requires a reasonably intelligent and responsive citizenry. Throughout this play people of Rome are described as “trash” or worse. Point out passages in Act I where various nobles express their contempt for the common people. How does this make you feel about these characters? Do the people seem to deserve a republic?
13. Cassius tell Brutus several anecdotes about Caesar in Scene 2. What is Cassius implying through these stories?
14. Do you have any conflicting feeling about Caesar during this act? Describe your impressions of his character, based on what you observe of his speeches and actins and on what other characters say about him.