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A Comparison of the Women in Julius Caesar

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    Calpurnia and Portia Shary Nguyen English 2 Per. 5 October 3, 2007 Portia and Calpurnia from the play “Julius Caesar,” written by William Shakespeare, are the wives of central characters in the play. Portia is the wife of Marcus Brutus, and Calpurnia is the wife of Julius Caesar. Although, Portia and Calpurnia are in the same social class during the same time period, they have similarities as well as differences. Portia seems braver and Calpurnia more fearful, each plays differing roles in their husband’s life, but both symbolize the neglected private lives of their husbands.

    Portia differs from Calpurnia in that she seems braver. Portia is quick to ask Brutus’s worries, strange for the time era in the play as a wife was supposed to be docile and not question their husbands. Also, she does not immediately listen to Brutus’s order for her to leave, but instead questions him more, only leaving when they are interrupted. On the other hand, Calpurnia is portrayed by Shakespeare to be a bit more fearful. Calpurnia is haunted by a nightmare and she fears for Caesar. She holds omens in high regards and begs Caesar to stay home on the ides of March.

    Throughout her appearances in the play, Calpurnia sets her opinions on what she fears. Calpurnia and Portia plays different roles in the lives of their husbands. Calpurnia is depicted to be the household wife that does not interfere nor question her husband’s political career and decisions. Though she does try to convince her husband to stay at home on the ides of March, she cannot convince him in the end. The conversation between Calpurnia and Caesar revolves only around Caesar. In their household, the wife does not appear to be influential. In contrast, Portia does not depend on omens and nightmares to raise her opinion to her husband.

    Portia questions Brutus as soon as he starts acting differently. She is upset that Brutus is not confiding in her, inferring that Brutus used to confide in her before. Furthermore, Brutus praises Portia often during their conversation, calling her “Good Portia,” “gentle Portia,” “noble wife,” and “true and honorable wife. ” Portia, in turn, seems to think of a husband and wife as equal halves. Their conversation does not revolve around the male figure, but instead discusses the situation between themselves. However, Calpurnia and Portia are not all different in that their husbands should pay more heed to them.

    Portia, though thought highly of by her husband, does not know of her husband’s plan to kill Caesar. Brutus’s hesitation to confide in Portia proves that he still has doubts about the conspiracy. Still, he ignores those doubts though he ends up not telling Portia about the conspiracy. As Portia is kept in the dark, Brutus also keeps his private life in the dark. Similarly, Calpurnia is shunned by her husband when he decides to go to Senate against her wishes. Caesar does give in for a while, but ultimately he chooses politics over his private life, Calpurnia.

    Portia and Calpurnia are not key factors in the lives of their husbands. This seems to represent the roles of wives during that time. Portia even says, during a conversation with Brutus, “I grant I am a woman, but withal, a woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex, being so fathered and so husbanded? ” Though Portia and Calpurnia are two different women with different personalities and thought of differently by their husbands, their influence is the same, they are women, and women stay at home. The men make all the decisions.

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