12th English : Remember Caesar (Play)
Unit 6.3 > Remember Caesar (Play)
Study the title of the play “Remember Caesar”. Who is Caesar? What is he remembered for? Let us go through the pages of history succinctly to answer the above questions.
|Ø Julius Caesar was a brilliant military general and great Roman monarch.
Ø He was born on the 13th of July in 100 BC (BCE).
Ø He created the Julian calendar which is the basis for today’s calendar.
Ø He was assassinated by a group of Roman senators in 44 BC (BCE).
Ø The day that Julius Caesar was murdered, 15th March, was called the Ides of March in ancient Rome.
- twiddling my thumbs – being idle
- Charles II – King of England from 1660 to 1685
- foot pad – highway-man (robber) who goes about on foot (highwaymen on horseback were more common in those days)
- game pie – meat (of animals or birds hunted and killed) covered with pastry and baked
- lawdamussy – an exclamation (lord have mercy)
- minutiae – minute details (often trivial)
- gingerly – carefully
- infernal – a concealed or disguised explosive device intended to destroy life or property
- ilex tree – evergreen oak tree also called holm oak
- foil – to frustrate or thwart the efforts of the assassin (i.e. to kill himself by handling that rusty pistol is a poor way of outwitting the assassin)
- excursions and alarms – (alarms and excursions) noise and bustle (as those made on the stage to represent battles etc.)
1. Complete the summary of the play, choosing the appropriate words from the list given
below the passage.
Lord Weston was a (1) well-known judge in England. Being pompous and vain, he told his secretary Roger that he had attained glory by hard work and (2) zealous service. He expressed his displeasure over Roger’s request for a half-holiday. Suddenly, he discovered a piece of paper with the words (3) Remember Caesar in his pocket, and he feared that the message was a warning conveyed by his enemies who had received legal punishments from him. As the message was sent on the 15th of March, (the day Julius Caesar was assassinated), he was (4) convinced that someone affected by his fair judgement was plotting his murder. Sensing the definite attack, Lord Weston ordered his secretary to (5) shut all the doors and windows. But his wife remained (6) unperturbed by the threat. So, Lord Weston was angered by her (7) callous reaction. He ordered Roger to send the cook and the (8) gardener away. Both Weston and Roger took elaborate precautionary measures to thwart the (9) assassination attempt. Finally, Weston was able to recollect that he had written the message “Remember Caesar” himself as a (10) reminder. Caesar was actually a gardener who had an appointment to visit Weston’s garden. The play revolves around Weston’s absent-mindedness which is the crux of the play.
|zealous service||Remember Caesar||assassination||shut||convinced|
2. Based on your understanding of the the text, answer the following questions briefly
a. How did Lord Weston describe himself?
Lord Weston described himself as the best – known certainly the most impartial judge in England and a favoured servant of his gracious majesty, Charles, the Second.
b. How did Roger react to Lord Weston’s advice?
Roger said that if Weston did not need him that afternoon, he might personally interview the clerk of the Awards Committee and find out why he had not sent that document.
c. What made Lord Weston think that his life was in danger?
Lord Weston saw the words, ‘Remember Caesar’ on a scrap of paper which he took out of his pocket. He feared that the message was a warning conveyed by his enemies who had received legal punishments from him.
d. Why was the speaker keen to know what day it was?
When Weston read the words ‘Remember Caesar’ written on a scrap of paper, a horrible idea occurred to him. The words reminded him of Caesar’s murder and so he was keen to know what day it was.
e. Mention the immediate steps taken by Lord Weston to protect himself from his assassin.
Weston asked Roger to go downstairs at once and look, bar and chain all the doors.
f. Do you think that Lady Weston did not care about the threat to her husband? State reasons.
Yes, Lady Weston did not care about the threat to her husband. When Weston said that his life was in grave danger, Lady Weston coolly said that the last time it was in danger, he had been eating meat. When Weston mentioned assassination, he said that he always wanted to be a great man and now he had got his wish.
g. How did Lord Weston ‘defuse’ the ‘infernal machine’?
Lord Weston asked Roger to bring the wooden pail of water. He inserted the parcel lengthwise into the pail. He asked Roger to bring the books from the shelf and plunge them into the water. Thus he defused the ‘infernal machine’.
h. Whose life was of ‘great value’ to England? In what way?
Roger’s life was a great value to England. There were still great things for him to do in the world. He must live and write Weston’s life for posterity.
i. Why did the speaker consider his life less important?
The speaker had had his life and he was very old as well. So the speaker considered his life less important.
j. Who reminded Lord Weston about Mr. Caesar?
Roger reminded Lord Weston about Mr. Caesar.
k. What was the truth about the crumpled piece of paper?
Lord Weston made a note ‘Remember Caesar’ on a piece of paper and put it in his pocket. So it was not thrust into his pocket by any body else.
l. Bring out the irony in the message “Remember Caesar”.
Lord Weston thought that the message ‘Remember Caesar’ was a threat to him. The date on which he saw the message was the fifteenth of March, the date of the murder of Caesar. He feared that his life was in grave danger but the message had been actually written by himself. It was about Mr. Caesar, who was to come to see him that morning about rose trees. This is the irony in the message, ‘Remember Caesar’.
3. Based on your understanding of the play, complete the Graphic Organiser (GO) Suitably.
4. Answer the following questions in a paragraph about 150 words each
a) “Remember Caesar” is a light hearted comedy. Discuss the statement in a group and identify various aspects such as title, plot and characterisation that contribute to the humour in the play.
humour and irony – ‘Remember Caesar’ written on a scrap of paper – Weston misunderstood – fifteen of March – life in danger –Roger – reminds him of Caesar – written by Weston – steps taken – light hearted talk of Mrs. Weston – infernal machine – a parcel of velvet cloak
‘Remember Caesar’ is full of humour and irony. The title reminds the readers of the great Roman Monarch, Julius Caesar. The words ‘Remember Caesar’ written on a scrap of paper, seems to Lord Weston a threatening message. The date of seeing the message is the fifteenth of March, the date of the murder of Julius Caesar. So, Lord Weston jumps to conclusion that his life is in great danger as some one has plotted to murder him. But finally, Roger reminds him about a man by name Mr. Caesar. Weston recollects that he himself has written the message. The precautionary steps taken by Weston and the light-hearted talk of Mrs Weston add humour to the play. When Weston tells Lady Weston that her husband’s life is in grave danger, she is cool and calm enough to say that the last time it was in danger, he had been eating meat. Readers burst into laughter when Lord Weston tries to defuse the infernal machine, thinking that it will explode at any time. It is nothing but a parcel of velvet cloak for Weston. Thus the title, plot and characterization contribute humour to the play.
Blessed are the forgetful for they get the better even of their blunders.
b) Compare the character traits of Lord Weston and his wife.
Weston, famous judge – best known – favourite to Charles II – hard work and zealous service – boasts himself – absent minded – ‘Remember Caesar’ – forgot – no bribe – no twisting of law – firm – fear to think about ‘Remember Caesar’ – desperate to save himself – Lady Weston, excellent homemaker – practical simplicity –intelligent – charming – light-hearted – witty remarks – tease her husband – calm and composed – sarcastic
Lord Weston was a famous judge in London. He described himself as the best-known and certainly the most impartial judge in England and a favoured servant of his gracious majesty, Charles the Second. He was pompous and proud to say that he won his honours by hard work and zealous service. He was absent-minded at times. That is why he had forgotten that he himself had written the message, ‘Remember Caesar’. He refused to be bribed. He had never twisted the law to please the mob. He was very firm that he should not please them by dying on the day of their choice. Credulity was his flaw. Fear gripped him when he read the message and he was desperate enough to protect himself.
Lady Weston was an excellent homemaker. She was known for her practical simplicity, intelligence as well as malice. She was charming. She had a light – hearted approach to the problem her husband was facing. Her remarks were frivolous, intended to tease and taunt him. It seemed that she was callous but cool, calm and composed. Sarcasm was her forte.
c) Group Work
The play revolves around a ‘perceived threat’ and how Lord Weston and Lady Weston react to it. Let’s reverse their roles. Imagine a panic-stricken Lady Weston and a frivolous Lord Weston. Read the following piece of dialogue from the play and rewrite it to suit the changed roles.
Lady Weston : My dear, your wife’s life is in great danger.
Lord Weston : The last time it was in danger you had been tasting the home-made sweets. What is it this time?
Lady Weston : ‘[annihilating his flippancy with one broad side] : Assassination’.
Lord Weston : Well, Well! You always wanted to be a great lady and now you have got your wish.
Lady Weston : What do you mean?
Lord Weston : They don’t assassinate nobodies.
Lady Weston : (Showing him the paper) : Read that, and see if you can laugh.
Lord Weston : I’m not laughing. (Trying to read) : What a dreadful scraw!.
Lady Weston : Yes, the venomous scribbling of an illiterate.
Lord Weston : (deciphering) ‘Remember Caesar’. Is it a riddle?
Lady Weston : It is a death warrant. Do you know what day this is ?
Lord Weston : Thursday.
Lady Weston : What day of the month?
Lord Weston : About the twelfth, I should guess.
Lady Weston : (with meaning) : It is the fifteenth. The fifteenth of March.
Lord Weston : Oh God! Our marriage day! And we haven’t wished each other
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