Julius Ceaser Allusion in Hamlet
I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i' the' Capitol; Brutus killed me (Act 3, scene 2).
The allusion refers to the killing of Julius Ceaser, by his friend Brutus. In Hamlet, King Hamlet is killed by Claudius, his brother. After Claudius kills King Hamlet, he declares himself the King of Denmark. Claudius goes to the extent of marrying King Hamlet’s widow even before King Hamlet is given a respectful send-off before he is buried. Hamlet is very saddened by the death of his father and the early remarriage of his mother. Hamlet is surprised that his mother is obsessed with Claudius and is not in a sorrowful mood despite the death of her husband. The death of Julius Caesar came to pass after a conspiracy by senators of the Roman Empire. Brutus was one of the conspirers. Julius Caesar was killed by being stabbed by Brutus. Caesar harbored a special fondness for Brutus and he even considered him as his son given that Caesar was having a love affair with Brutus’ mother (Parenti 168). A plot to kill Julius Caesar was instigated by tension between Julius Caesar and members of the Roman Empire Senate. Members of the Senate did not like the fact that Julius Caesar would be a dictator in perpetuity (Parenti 169). As a result, the Roman Senate sees it fit to bring Julius Caesar’s reign to an end. In Hamlet, a conspiracy was also used to ensure that King Hamlet’s reign is brought to an end. Claudius conspired with Gertrude (King Hamlet’s wife) and Polonius, who is the chief counselor to the King. However, it is worth mentioning that Claudius was the mastermind of the plot to kill King Hamlet. The conspiracy to kill King Hamlet yields fruits when King Hamlet is finally killed.
Why Does Claudius Identify Himself With Cain?
O my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, A brother's murder (Act 3, scene 2).
In this context, Claudius reveals that he is guilty of killing his brother, King Hamlet. Claudius compares his murder of King Hamlet to the primal eldest curse. The primal eldest curse refers to the first curse that God declared on a human being. Upon Cain killing Abel, God declared that Cain and his lineage would forever be cursed. In Genesis 4: 11-16, God declares a curse on Cain for murdering his brother, Abel, and lying to God about the whereabouts of his brother. In the curse, God did state any attempts of Cain to farm the land would not produce any yield for him. God also declared that Cain would forever be a fugitive and a wander, he will never find rest. As s result of the curse, Cain went ahead to live a nomadic life. Cain never found rest for the rest of his life; he spent his years groaning and suffering. As a result of the curse, Cain’s descendants were perpetually engrossed in physical afflictions. As a matter of fact, there are Christian scholars who allege that during Noah’s time, all of Cain’s descendants perished in the floods.
Claudius is guilty of killing his brother and compares the murder to that of Cain killing Abel. Cain and Abel were the first children of Adam and Eve. Cain was the firstborn, and Abel was the second born. Cain was a farmer; he tilled land whereas Abel his brother was a shepherd. Cain and Abel had a habit of offering sacrifices to God from their produce.
God favored Abel’s sacrifice because Abel often took the best of his produce (in this case, his livestock and offered them as a sacrifice to God. On the other hand, Cain often took produce that was not appealing to him and offered them as a sacrifice to God. Cain was angry and envious of the fact that God favored Abels sacrifice to his sacrifice. Due to the anger and envy that Cain had for his brother, Abel, he decided to murder him. Cain convinced Abel to accompany him to the field and in the field; Cain rose against his brother and murdered him. When God asked Cain about his brothers’ whereabouts, Cain lied to God that he does not know where Abel is and he is not his brother’s keeper. God then told Cain that he could hear Abel’s blood crying out to Him from the soil. It is after this that God declared his curse upon Cain.
Claudius probably killed King Hamlet because he was envious of his success. Claudius probably killed King Hamlet because he was probably jealous of King Hamlet’s property, including his wife. How can you marry your brother’s wife immediately after his death, even before he is buried? Claudius thought that by killing King Hamlet and ascending to the throne as the King of Denmark, he would have a happy life. However, happiness becomes elusive in Claudius’s life when he becomes King. Claudius becomes paranoid when he discovers that there is a high probability that Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s death. Claudius spends the rest of his life perpetually bothered by his conscience, he never finds rest. Both Claudius and Cain do not find rest in their lives after murdering their brothers.
Parenti, Michael. The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome. New York: New Press, 2004. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ware: Wordsworth Classics, 1996. Print.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Bibles, 2009. Print.
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