- Jun 2017
CINNA. I am not Cinna the conspirator. FOURTH CITIZEN. It is no matter, his name’s Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going.
In this act, mistaken identity is used to break tension. Apart from the obvious comedic relief this scene adds to the ever mounting tension and drama in the play, this scene also indicates the disintegration of society and the lack of social restraints of the general public after Caesar’s death.
In this scene, the plebeians initially surround Cinna the poet after confusing him with Cinna the conspirator. Even when Cinna repeatedly tells them “I am not Cinna the conspirator”, the citizens, in their bloodthirsty rampage, still decide to kill him, stating that “It is no matter, his name’s Cinna”. This degradation of social standards and the crumbling of the social foundations of Ancient Rome bolster the image of the plebeians as ‘sheep’ to be swayed and controlled by the ruling classes, and solidifies their position in the play.
It is also no coincidence that Shakespeare made Cinna a poet. In the citizens’ interrogation of Cinna, Cinna not only speaks for himself, but as a poet and as a projection of those in scholarly fields and free speech as a whole. With this, Shakespeare compels the audience to question whom poets and those who provide information to the public are accountable to, and whether free speech is more important than a stable and safe society.