English Literature / Drama GCSE: Julius Caesar - Act I, Scene 2 - Cassius Enlists Brutus

Cassius confronts Brutus about his friend’s uncharacteristic coldness.

When Cassius is reassured on this count he reveals his own fear of Caesar’s growing power, probes Brutus’s feelings on the matter, and tries to persuade him that something must be done about Caesar.

This short film is from the BBC series, Shakespeare Unlocked.

Teacher Notes

Before watching, ask your students to brainstorm what they would do if they had a friend who suddenly seemed to have grown less friendly to them, and no longer wanted to do things together as they used to.

Would they confront them? If so, how could they do this without losing their friend?

Ask students, in pairs, to discuss how they would raise with a friend the issue of a mutual friend who they think is behaving badly (if they are not sure how close their friend is to this person or how they will feel about their behaviour).

What could they do to start off the conversation in a way which will allow them to go as little or as deeply into the subject as they need?

Then watch and ask them how far the exchange between Cassius and Brutus matched their predictions.

After watching, ask students to consider the stages by which Cassius gains Brutus's confidence.

How does he move the topic on to his own concerns with Caesar?

Ask students to highlight the moments when he seems to manipulate the conversation in his desired direction.

Give students a copy of the scene, and ask them to highlight the questions in the scene.

What impression of the scene do the questions alone give?

In some respects, Shakespeare frames the scene around these questions, and their nature changes as the scene goes on, from simple questions of fact to questions which - finally - Brutus cannot answer without thinking and reflecting for a space of time.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/ 5 in Scotland.

More from Shakespeare Unlocked: Julius Caesar

Act I, Scene 2 - Cassius and Brutus (workshop)
Act I, Scene 2 - Persuading Brutus (workshop)
Act I, Scene 2 - Marking the words (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 1 - The Murder
Act 3, Scene 1 - Leader or dictator (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 1 - Killing Caesar (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 2 - The Orations
Act 3, Scene 2 - Rhetoric and politics (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 2 - Brutus reasons with the crowd (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 2 - Mark Antony moves the crowd (workshop)