A Literature Review of secondary material on Julius Caesar

However, Brewer indicates Shakespeare’s primary reference regarding Julius Caesar prior to his introduction to Plutarch, might have been Mirror for Magistrates in which Caesar was depicted as both cruel tyrant and inspired leader.
Brewer supports his basis regarding Shakespeare’s source upon earlier references to the relationship between Brutus and Caesar in other works that precede the staging of Julius Caesar. References are pointed out from III Henry IV and II Henry IV as well as Henry V and Hamlet. In all of these references, Brewer illustrates how the picture painted of this relationship reflects the earlier writings that depicted Brutus as evil and Caesar as alternately good and evil. Judging from the quotations from the plays, it seems that Shakespeare may well have had some sympathy with this older, indeed medieval, tradition. After he had read Plutarch’s idealizing life of Brutus (perhaps his reading of North’s Plutarch coincided with his writing of Henry V), his idea of Brutus may have changed, and certainly became more complex.2 Rather than understanding Brutus as a single-sided character, Brewer suggests that Shakespeare’s treatment of him represented a shift from the traditional medieval thinking at the time of his creation of the play, supporting a small but perhaps more humanistic version of the historic events.
While Anne Paolucci3 acknowledges in 1960 a long-standing tradition to place Brutus as the hero of the play, she writes primarily about how scholarly interpretation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar should be focused with equal attention upon the title character as well as the tragic hero of Brutus. The fact that the play is named instead after Caesar does not in itself demand that the tragic hero be considered the leader himself, she argues. In naming the play after Caesar, Shakespeare may have been suggesting that to understand the tragic denouement properly we must