Standard: ELAGSE9-10W1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Learning Target: I can develop an argument about a theme in Julius Caesar.
Opening Session: Why care about Caesar?
Work Session: Today I’m going to give you your essay assignment for this unit! You will be doing a literary analysis essay, which means you will be analyzing a specific question or theme raised in Julius Caesar. Here’s the deets:
Julius Caesar Essay Assignment
Your assignment is to write an analytical essay about one of the topics listed below. Choose a side for your topic and write an argumentative essay of about 750 words in which you examine your topic and explain which interpretation is best supported by evidence from the play. You will need to use at least six quotes from the play with proper lead-ins and citations. Your essay should also address and refute the counterargument, explaining the other side and why that side is wrong.
Your essay must:
- Choose a side (do not argue “in the middle” or “It depends”)
- Be approximately 750 words in length
- Be supported by evidence (quotes) from the play
- Incorporate a minimum of 6 quotes, each with proper lead-in and citation
- Address and refute the counterargument
- Fate vs. Free Will: Throughout the play, we see Caesar warned about his impending doom over and over again. Despite all the signs telling him to stay home, Caesar goes to the Senate anyway on the Ides of March, where he is brutally murdered by a conspiracy of Senators. Was Caesar’s end predetermined by the gods/fate/destiny? Or was it Caesar’s own arrogance that led him to his doom?
- Did Brutus kill Caesar for good reasons or bad reasons? Marcus Brutus’s internal conflict of whether or not he should murder his friend Caesar is one of the central conflicts of the play. Brutus is good friends with Caesar, but believes that Caesar is an ambitious tyrant. However, the people love Caesar, and Caesar’s assent to power also takes power away from Brutus. Did Brutus kill Caesar because he did not want to lose his own powerful position in Rome? Or did Brutus kill Caesar because he truly believed it was for the good of his country?
- Did anyone die a noble death? Like most Shakespearean tragedies, almost all of the characters are dead by the end of the play. Several commit suicide (Brutus, Cassius, Portia), and Caesar is murdered. When he finds Brutus’s body, Octavius says Brutus was the noblest Roman of all. Does anyone in the play truly die a noble death? Or does everyone ultimately die in a cowardly or tragic way?
Your essay is due Monday, March 12th.
After we talk about each topic and I hand out the topic sheets, I want you to start brainstorming. Flip to the back of your sheet, choose your topic, and write a sentence that explains your stance on it. This will become your thesis statement. Then, start jotting down bullet points about why you think that or how you formed that opinion. For example, if you think that Caesar’s arrogance led to his death, jot down all the examples you can think of when Caesar is arrogant in the play. This brainstorming technique is called a brain dump.
Closing Session: After we brain dump, I want to take a little informal survey of y’all’s opinions!!
Assessment: Formal (essay)
Differentiation: Process (scaffolding)