Julius Caesar Themes

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Tragedy of Julius Caesar


The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Theme

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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our supplementary article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich themes and symbols that William Shakespeare uses throughout The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. They will analyze the instances of themes, symbols, and motifs as they appear in the play either while they read or after they've finished.


Themes, Motifs, and Symbols to Discuss

Persuasion

Throughout the play, characters try to persuade themselves and others of many things. Cassius convinces Brutus to join the conspiracy, and when Antony uses his eulogy to persuade the citizens of Rome that Caesar was cruelly assassinated.


Gender Roles

At several points in the play, characters try to defy or adhere to traditional notions about their gender. Portia stabs herself to prove she is strong, despite being a woman, and that Brutus should include her in his plans. When Caesar faints, he lies to the crowd so that he doesn't look weak in the eyes of the public.


Caesar’s Death, Funeral, and Will

Caesar’s funeral is very interesting and concludes some foreshadowed events. One noticeable symbol is Caesar being killed at the base of Pompey’s statue. This is ironic; Pompey was the general Caesar defeated in order to win the crown. Other elements to note are the uses of verbal and situational irony, including the reading of his will. Caesar left land, money, and other items to the citizens of Rome which disprove the conspirators reasoning for killing him in the first place.


Suicide

In Roman times, suicide was seen as a sign of strength and honor. At the end of the play, knowing that they are finished, the conspirators kill themselves to symbolically fulfill their promise to Rome. During Brutus’ oration, he told the citizens that if they did not agree with his actions, he would kill himself.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Julius Caesar. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Julius Caesar you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme

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Rubric

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