ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Most Important Minor Character- Cinna in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"

Updated on January 8, 2014
The play Julius Caesar
The play Julius Caesar | Source

William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is one rendition of the timeless tale of the conspiracy and murder of Julius Caesar. Although Julius Caesar is based this conspiracy and murder, the actual events surrounding this mutiny are a mystery; therefore, Shakespeare employs numerous literary devices in his play to make the story more appealing for the audience. Among the many devices is the use of minor characters. In Julius Caesar minor characters primarily add to the emotional concerns of major characters. One such minor character is Cinna, the poet, who only shows up in Scene Three, Act Three and is initially mistaken the Cinna who conspired to murder Caesar. Cinna’s seemingly insignificant role is often cut from productions of Julius Caesar because his function as a character in the play is vastly overlooked. Shakespeare would not have added a character for no reason or with little effect. Cinna, the poet, and his death, is vital to the play, not only because his existence shows how ignorant the people of Rome are and adds intense emotional character to the angry mob of Romans, but also because his performance in Act Three, Scene Three displays the magnitude of Rome’s shift from a republic to a dictatorship.

The dialogue in Act Three, Scene Three illustrates the difference between Cinna, the poet, and the angry mob of Romans seeking to punish Brutus and his conspirators. Cinna, the poet, begins the

scene by saying:


I dreamt to-night that I did feast with Caesar,

And things unluckily charged my fantasy:

I have no will to wander forth of doors,

Yet something leads me forth.

(III. iii. 1-4)

In this instance, Cinna speaks in perfect poetry as a presumably educated poet. He also speaks of his uneasy feelings and premonition of his impending doom. When the mob arrives, they speak in dialect and demand Cinna, the poet, to answer their every question. For example, near the end of the scene, Fourth Plebeian says, “It is no matter, his name’s Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going” (III, iii, 34-36). There is no rhyme or meter, like those that permeates most other lines of the Shakespeare’s plays. In fact, the citizens in this scene do not speak in poetic stanzas at all. Their words are straightforward and to the point. The lack of poetic verses in the mob’s conversation depicts them as uneducated. Furthermore, Fourth Citizen’s outburst, as previously mentioned, is evident that the common people are vastly irrational. They are willing and do kill Cinna, the poet, simply because his name is the same as Cinna, the conspirator. The mob does not take into account that Cinna, the poet, is as innocent as any of them in the plot to kill Caesar. In this scene, Cinna, the poet, appears to be far more educated and rational than the mob comprised of common Roman people.

In addition, at this point in the play, the character of the angry mob shows that the Roman people do need leadership. In the previous scene, when Brutus and Mark Antony are speaking, the people are displayed as a group who goes along with whoever is talking. When Brutus was talking the people readily agreed with him and praised him for his role in murdering Caesar. Yet, when Mark Antony takes the stage, to cunningly oppose Brutus and the conspirator’s actions, the mob eagerly marches off to avenge Caesar’s death by wandering through the streets of Rome with torches to look for those who conspired against Caesar. Despite Cinna, the poet’s, pleas that he is “not Cinna the conspirator” (III. iii. 33), a member of the mob, Third Plebeian, yells, “Tear him, tear him!” (III, iii, 37). The mob’s irrational thinking illustrates the Roman people’s inability to govern themselves in an orderly, lawful manner without a leader. This further implies the need for Rome to become a dictatorship. The people of Rome appear unable to govern themselves in a Republic. Cinna’s role emphasizes the need for Rome to become a dictatorship

Facsimile of the first page of Julius Caesar from the First Folio, published in 1623
Facsimile of the first page of Julius Caesar from the First Folio, published in 1623 | Source

Although Cinna, the poet, is only present in the play during a short scene, his presence is nonetheless important to the play as a whole. Cinna, the poet, illustrates how uneducated and illogical the common people of Rome were during Caesar’s time. The ignorance of the people made them susceptible to the opinion of apparently anyone who stood up and addressed them. As the play illustrates, the common people’s lack of knowledge is dangerous. Cinna’s scene shows how vulnerable and irrational an unguided mob of Romans could be during a time of crisis. Furthermore, Caesar’s death brought about uncertainties in leadership and prompted mass hysteria. As the scene illustrates, the mob’s lack of organization without a leader emphasizes Rome’s need for a dictatorship, rather than a Republic. Cinna’s scene is vastly important to the play because it allows the audience to be aware of the common Roman people and question whether or not a Republic is the best way for Rome to be led. In addition, without Cinna, the poet, there is no comparison for rational and irrational thought. Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and all the characters and scenes in his original play are important for understanding the political atmosphere in Rome at that time and how the common people of Rome are coping with that change.

© 2014 morningstar18

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)