Shakespeare’s Plays Compare And Contrast Essay


All through history and even today, social classes, structure, and class conflicts are seen to be apparent and unconventional. It is very difficult to move up in classes and is often mentioned as a tower of wine glasses; the top gets most of the wine, while the bottom is left with very little, if not none. Shakespeare’s plays were set in the BC era, which meant we were dealing with social structures of kings, queens, peasants, merchants, etc. This could easily be seen as a conflict in a variety of ways, one being the way Shakespeare had portrayed his story’s plot and themes. He had to make it very concise for the upper class such as the kings, whereas merchants or just a common plebeian, would be all over the place and not think before acting. Most times acting as a result of fear. This was seen numerous times in Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, both written by William Shakespeare. 

Shakespeare is a well-known writer for many stories and can be referenced for a matter of things in his story compared to real life in America, this being class conflict. In today’s world, we have a society run by capitalism, where economic values are run by private owners rather than each state has a whole, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, this story was written in an aristocratic government; where the most power is held by those on the top of the chain. In other words, those that are the most wealthy, speaking of the kings and queens, are often recognized by the term, dictatorship. In the play, Brutus, a friend of Caesar, even considered this form of government, more dangerous than anything at all, claiming, “But 'tis a common proof, That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,  Whereto the climber upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round.  He then unto the ladder turns his back, /Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend.” (Shakespeare, Act 2, Scene 1). Brutus can easily be argued to be considered a traitor but was motivated by his patriotism of fear. He did not want another corrupt government, he knew that change needed to be brought. This dictatorship was not beneficial whatsoever, and this quote goes in-depth discussing how if he were to allow Caesar to rule Rome, he would fall into a burden of distress and corruption. It was fate and was seen with other leaders of Rome. Comparing this to the class conflict of American divided societies, this can be similar to people who are born into wealth, however, these people have no-fault; they did not choose to be born into a specific family of extreme money. However, if an individual is born into an upper-class family, the easier it will be for that person to start a business, pursue their dreams, fall into addictions, and end up corrupt just like Brutus had believed Caesar would be. This can be seen with many actors that fell into substance abuse. Having money means access to a variety of things. Drugs are a way for some people to cope and although it is not a great coping mechanism, it is unfortunately harmful. Other people tend to agree, stating that these stories with similar forms of government disclose an oppositional discourse that declines to assume the nation-state as a basic framework for society. Exploiting the turmoil generated by the state's effort to penetrate and organize social life(...) (Gil, 2007). The Roman Republic in Julius Caesar had no motive to change how things were running as a society, they only cared about themselves. Almost as if they were brainwashed by their ruler. All in all, in Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s work can be closely connected to class conflict in today’s modern society. 

Following the divided American class conflicts today and relating them to Shakespeare’s stories, Caesar’s murder at the end of Julius Caesar resulting in a bloody, civil war. Nothing was resolved as a result of his death. For Americans, this can be linked to the citizen’s reactions to Jeffery Epstein’s’ “suicide” in the fall of 2019. There were many theories and divided the American public into how this could have happened if he was on suicide watch, leading to people who believe a hitman could have been involved to hide any evidence. Although there was no war or violence as a result of Epstein’s death, many people believed different things. The country was distraught and divided, similar to the death of Caesar in the Rome Republic. In the play, characters even felt as if the murder would not resolve anything for Rome, but continued anyway, quoting, “O Cassius, Brutus gave the word too early; Who, having some advantage on Octavius, Took it too eagerly: his soldiers fell to spoil, Whilst we by Antony are all enclosed” (Shakespeare, Act 5, Scene 1). If anythings, Caesar’s death set Rome back a few years from a successful class structure. Everyone went on to fight following his death, nothing was positive from this murder. Therefore, there was no “real” reason as to why Brutus among others should have continued with the plan of murdering his “friend”. After fighting, the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire as Augustus Caesar being deemed as their emperor (Mark, 2020). In short, these old stories can easily replicate situations in America.

Coriolanus is another story written by William Shakespeare that depicted famines in Rome, leading its people to desert extreme measures for the protection of their family since the family was another significant role in the story. Coriolanus himself can easily be argued as a role model for defending Rome from their enemies, proclaimed as “the military hero of the early Roman Republic who turns his back on his city to join forces with its enemies'' (Miller, 2009) since after the Senate decided that Coriolanus cannot win votes, turns his back on the people of Rome. This can be reflected on not specifically Americans but off of World War II with the Germans and Hitler. Hitler originally was helping Germany but then turned to almost brainwashing their citizens that Jewish people were the result of Germany falling apart. Eventually leading to communism and an almost dictatorship of the whole world. America was not the main target, but they were involved in World War II. Hitler defended and rebuilt Germany, just to bring it down into total despair, similarly to Coriolanus. Class conflict was present in both situations because the third world countries in World War II were easily defeated since they were not prominent or strong as opposed to first world countries like America. In the story written by Shakespeare, class conflict was present because Coriolanus can be compared to Hitler, a strong leader, but easily fell into the opposing end of fighting Rome. Each class had their own ideology and fought for what they wanted rather than coming together as a whole, however, more times than not, the upper class got what they wanted since they had the access to the necessities to what they needed, proving “Each class fights for its own interest.” (Lawal, 2017). Class conflicts were prominent but never successful and got anywhere progress wise. 

Both stories written by William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, and Coriolanus are depicted within class conflicts, social class, and structure. It dives into how many older situations can be seen in today’s divided America and even its history involving times from World War II. Although Shakespeare had no intention of this when he wrote his stories, it is interesting to make the connection between older pieces of writings and the world today. Julius Caesar was a perfect example of how sometimes we may let our fears overcome our actions, or simply be brainwashed by the higher class to believe a specific thing. Whereas Coriolanus was a perfect example of how our leaders may not always be on our side. Both of these replicate the class structures and struggles by how the upper class was not who we think they are.



 

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