William Shakespeare lived in a time and place where writing about politics could get him into serious trouble. Queen Elizabeth was his biggest fan and patron so he was careful never to anything bad about her. The Bard had to walk a fine line when it came to contemporary politics, but he had more creative freedom when he wrote about the distant past.
His play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, was a story about Marcus Brutus, a friend of Julius Caesar who ultimately would betray him. Cassius Longinus, a Roman senator, convinces Brutus that Caesar is becoming too powerful. Brutus ultimately comes to the decision that murdering Caesar would be in Rome′s best interests. However, this was not the case. Civil war broke out after the death of Caesar, and Cassius and Brutus were forced to kill themselves.
Perhaps Shakespeare was trying to tell his audience that murdering leaders is bad for your country, or maybe he just wanted to entertain his audience.
Americans are used to different types of stories because of our rich history. We fought for our independence and won. Many of our books, movies, and TV shows involve fighting for freedom and winning. Understanding the context, it is understandable how it might make someone nervous if a beloved figure was presented as the villain or a murder victim in a play. But from the beginning, Julius Caesar has been performed in modern dress instead of togas and sandals. This is not a recent invention by anti-Trump liberals.
In Shakespeare′s Globe Theatre, the actors wore doublets and breeches (which was the style in London in 1600) as they portrayed Romans from 44 BC. Today, Even when the actors and/or actresses wear togas, the play is as historically accurate as a steampunk graphic novel. It has been adapted frequently throughout time.
Here′s an example of actors dressed in togas for a performance of Julius Caesar.
That′s John Wilkes Booth on left and his two brothers on the right. A trolling commentator might point out that an actual assassin appeared in this play in the past. Booth’s motivations were, of course, a bloody civil war that had recently concluded for his assassination of Lincoln. This proves Shakespeare′s lesson even further. Brutus did not help Rome move forward by stabbing Caesar, and Booth did not do the South any favors by shooting Lincoln. Both men ultimately died as a result of their own crimes, and were never revered as heroes for their acts. Typically, they are remembered as villains in popular culture.
Shakespeare was not the kind of man to rock the boat. In most of his plays, characters who resort to violence often pay the price in the end. If the recent performance of Julius Caesar in New York was meant to be some kind of dog whistle, the only message that Shakespeare enthusiasts such as myself are hearing is, ″Trump might be terrible but things will get even worse if someone tries to kill him.″ Trump haters who flock to the play might absorb an important moral lesson. Trump supporters would be wise to let them watch the play without disruption.