Marjorie B. Garber
In the final act of Julius Caesar, Cassius, fearful of defeat at Philippi, dispatches Titinius to discover whether the surrounding troops are friends or enemies. He posts another soldier to observe, and when the soldier sees Titinius encircled by horsemen and reports that he is taken, Cassius runs on his sword and dies. Shortly afterward, Titinius reenters the scene bearing a "wreath of victory" from Brutus.When he sees the dead body, he at once understands Cassius's tragic mistake. "Alas, thou has misconstrued everything!" (5.3.84), he cries out, and he too runs on Cassius's sword.
That one cry, "thou hast misconstrued everything!" might well serve as an epigraph for the whole of Julius Caesar. The play is full of omens and portents, augury and dream, and almost without exception these omens are misinterpreted. Calpurnia's dream, the dream of Cinna the poet, the advice of the augurers, all suggest one course of action and produce its opposite. The compelling dream imagery of the play, which should, had it been rightly interpreted, have persuaded Caesar to avoid the Capitol and Cinna not to go forth, is deflected by the characters of men, making tragedy inevitable. For Julius Caesar is not only a political play, but also a play of character. Its imagery of dream and sign, an imagery so powerful that it enters the plot on the level of action, is a means of examining character and consciousness.____________________