In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare incorporates figurative language, using metaphors and similes, to portray Caesar as menacing, daring, arrogant, and stubborn – qualities that eventually lead to his downfall on behalf of the prosperity and welfare of the Romans. When Brutus calls Decius over to discuss their method to overtake Caesar, he warns Decius of Caesar’s possible intimidations by contrasting him to “…
a serpent’s egg, which, hatched, would, as his kind grow mischievous, and kill him in the shell” (2.1.33). Brutus incorporates metaphor by comparing Caesar to a serpent’s egg to describe how he should be killed before he poses a threat to tyranny.
He fears Caesar’s influx in power will be easily influenced as he has the majority of the commoners’ support by his side. He believes Caesar’s death will be for the good of Rome, ensuring prosperity for all the Romans. When Calpurnia dreams of the Capitol covered in Caesar’s blood, Caesar assures Calpurnia to not fear her vision by stating that “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once” (2.2.34). Shakespeare emphasizes metaphorically that it is better to live bravely and confront the challenges instead of “dying” each time, or fearing risks and not achieving anything.
As cowards are often portrayed for their lack of courage when addressed with a challenge, Shakespeare conveys that this is only their loss, as they only gain their sense of vulnerability and insecurity as a person. However, he states that a person with audacity is able to confront the challenges that they face, without fearing the end consequences, even death itself. However, as Decius hears of Calpurnia’s vision, he misinterprets the dream to lure Caesar to the Capitol, where his awaited murder would soon occur.
As Caesar is deceived of Decius’ misinterpretation, he proceeds to the Capitol to be crowned by the Senate, but instead falls prey to the conspirators’ plotted assassination. He experiences each senator kneel before him, and ask to reconsider Publius Cimber’s banishment, while not knowing this would in turn prepare them for their attack, which Caesar in turn responds, “If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him I spurn thee like a cur out of my way” ( 3.1.50). Caesar’s arrogance is portrayed when Mentellus kneels before Caesar, who begs him to pardon Publius’ Cimber’s banishment, as Caesar is meanwhile unaware of his true intentions. However, Caesar offers no empathy in response as he refers to Metellus in third-person, as if Metellus is too lowly and worth as an object of ridicule instead.
However, as even Cassius pleads with Caesar, Caesar remains obstinate in not pardoning Publius Cimber, as he describes himself “… as constant as the Northern Star, of those whose true fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament” (3.1.66). Shakespeare compares Caesar to the Northern Star, as it is always found in the same direction and location, contrasting itself from all the other countless stars in the sky. He identifies with the same steadfastness to that of the star, as he is fixated on keeping the banishment for Publius Cimber, while oblivious that Cassius’ sole intention is to serve as a decoy for the successful downfall of Caesar.