William Shakespeare’s ironic play Julius Caesar (1599) and James Cameron’s film Avatar (2009) similarly display conflicting perspectives as a result of self-interest. Shakespeare develops a contemporary context, representing the fears of 16th Century England to display his views on creating an ethical society. Correspondingly, Cameron displays his own representation of a dying world and the self-interest which plays the foremost part in destroying it. Each text provides a representation of the self-interest of the composer toward developing an equal, just and unselfish word.
The representation of these perspectives are emphasised to express the conflicting values that influence the response of humanity towards personalities, situations and events. William Shakespeare identifies his conflicting perspectives with 16th Century English society by utilising the concept of everyman. Brutus represents ‘everyman’ within the drama allowing the audience to associate and relate this is shown significantly in Act 3 Scene 1. Shakespeare employs symbolism and imagery depicting a man’s lust for blood and violence “let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood”.
An initial reading of the text would suggest Shakespeare cleverly interprets a noble act of Brutus in honouring Caesar’s death but rather exposing his attraction for brutality and bloodshed. The violent attraction which Brutus possesses is due to all men to satisfy an inner need for violence, the attraction that is displayed in Brutus demonstrates Shakespeare’s fear of a violent English society. Shakespeare employs the repetition of “noble” to create Antanaclasis. Shakespeare reverses the 21st Century meaning of noble, whilst allows the audience to view a 16th century view of nobility as a cause of tyranny and oppression.
From one reading of the text, Shakespeare creates an ironic context that views Brutus a tyrannous noble in which he is a descendent from a line that destroyed the oppressive nature of the monarch. In Brutus’s role as the everyman, Shakespeare highlights the tyrannous and oppressive nature inside every man of society – in which violence is part of the human condition. Shakespeare rejects society, and defines his self-interest in purifying the corrupt, violent and oppressive values of man. Similarly, James Cameron identity’s his self-interest of a peaceful world without that of war, selfishness and individuality.
Cameron exposes the individuality possessed by Parker Selfridge in Scene 4. A close-up shot and shadowing together with the mise-en-scene of the costume, clearly a political context and the power utilised by Parker. Cameron constructs Parker’s self-interest by creating gaze between his eyes and ‘Unobtainium’, a high-priced mineral emphasising its value through dialogue “little grey rock sells for twenty million a kilo”. Cameron portrays Parker’s only interest is that of making money for his own individual purposes at the expense of the indigenous’ lives.
Cameron employs a cross-cutting shot towards the falling action of the film cutting back and forth between war and a horse on fire to juxtapose the ramifications of war its destruction and force. Cameron portrays the devastation of Parker’s individuality, and bias towards war and violence by providing an emotion reaction to the audience. James Cameron has exposed the disturbing and overwhelming consequences when people individualise and display ambition for their own purposes. Cameron, by portraying the selfishness of Parker defines the corrupt values of individualism and selfishness of humanity that underpin society’s morals .
Cameron opposes the standard perspective of going to war to solve an issue, whilst alluding to a peaceful and diplomatic society. Julius Caesar and Avatar each define conflicting views on society by portraying the consequences of individuality and self-interest. It is evident in both the play and the film that personalities which display these corrupt values suffer poetic justice; suggesting that both Shakespeare and Cameron are expressing their views on an individualistic society. Shakespeare displays Cassius as a malevolent and Machiavellian but then juxtaposes this to expose his fear, guilt and suicidal death .
Shakespeare employs an apostrophe to depict Cassius’s fear which leads to his death “O, coward that I am ”. Shakespeare depicts the immoral and erroneous value of individualism by providing a visual representation of death . Shakespeare has very cleverly displayed his views on self-interest by eradicating the very concept of it. Correspondingly Cameron displays this very concept by rejecting an individualistic society by displaying harsh consequences for those who display self-interest.
Cameron employs a high camera angle, symbolism, and non-diegetic score to depict the triumph in overcoming Conrad . The victorious sounds represent the triumph in overcoming the individuality represented in Conrad of conquering the natives. Both Shakespeare and Cameron show bias towards those who portray values of humility and selflessness opposed to those who propose values of self-interest. The two texts cleverly provide a different perspective of society in opposing a shift towards an individualistic society.
Both very cleverly oppose the shift from a selfless to an individualised world. The conflicting perspective of Shakespeare and Cameron against a contemporary society, gives hope for humanity in a more serene and intrinsic world. By juxtaposing the destruction of a self-interested person displays the values which are preferred by both Cameron and Shakespeare. The film Avatar and Julius Caesar have enlightened a new perspective on a more idealised world which is altruistic and tranquil.
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