Literature has brought to surface some of the world’s greatest geniuses, most notably the renowned playwright, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was born in 1594 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He produced numerous masterpieces throughout his lifetime, such as Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays and was first performed in 1601 in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The plot revolves around Julius Caesar, an incredibly ambitious and triumphant leader who returns victoriously from war.
Upon his return, it is suggested that his greatest ambition may come true and he will be announced as the ruler of Rome. However, it is obvious that the other characters in the play are not in favour of this decision and this ultimately leads to his death by the hands of his loyal servant, Brutus. Brutus is genuinely patriotic and his choice to kill Caesar is potentially driven by his loyalty to his nation. The plot then focuses on Brutus and his fight to achieve peace for Rome, eventually leading to a war with Caesar’s close friend, Mark Antony.
The play revolves around Brutus and the aftermath of his decision to kill Caesar. This essay will evaluate Brutus’s actions and will determine whether his decision to kill Caesar was truly justified. Throughout the play, there are several instances in which the people of Rome show respect for Brutus. Although Caesar is considered to be ranked very high in the hierarchy, it is often considered that both Brutus and Caesar are equal. For example, Cassius states, “What should be in that ‘Caesar’? Why should that name be sounded more than yours? ” (Act I, scene ii, 142-143).
Cassius compares the name of ‘Brutus’ with ‘Caesar’, and by doing so, he is indirectly comparing their reputations. Hence, Cassius believes that Brutus has just as much power and support to rule Rome as Caesar. It can also be observed that several Romans look up to Brutus and his honourable nature. This is demonstrated in a quotation by Casca, “O he sits high in all the people’s hearts…” [Act I, scene iii, 157-160]. This quotation especially reinforces the fact that Brutus is a good character because it is said by Casca, who is not impressed very easily.
Another situation which shows that Brutus is admired by the Romans can be seen when Cassius states, “I have heard Where many of the best respect in Rome (Except immortal Caesar), speaking of Brutus…” [Act I, scene ii, 58-62]. In this quotation, Cassius is emphasizing the fact that Brutus is so commendable that even powerful Romans respect him. Along with being an esteemed figure in Rome, Brutus is also highly ranked and successful. This can be seen when Cassius says, “And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair,” [Act I, scene iii, 143].
Cassius uses the word ‘praetor’ which also means ‘judge’. Therefore, this shows that Brutus has a significant amount of power and is above many people. In general, Brutus is a good character in the eyes of many, is just and is greatly devoted to his nation. Brutus’s main goal throughout the play is to achieve peace for Rome, and therefore, he justifies this as the reason for Caesar’s unfortunate demise. Brutus continually brings up the point that Caesar will not be a good leader for Rome.
When Brutus states, “It if aught toward the general good, Set honour in one eye and death i‘th’other,” [Act I, scene ii, 85-86], it shows that Brutus simply wants what is best for Rome. Brutus is willing to do anything in order to protect the tranquillity of his nation, whether that involves murder or not. The key aspect that makes Brutus a good character is the fact that he does not kill Caesar because of envy, greed or for the good of himself, but for the love of his country. This is seen on several occasions such as when he states, “It must be by his death.
And for my part I know no personal cause to spurn at him But for general,” [Act II, Scene i, 10-15]. Brutus is merely killing Caesar for the sole reason that he does not want a tyrant to rule Rome. However, he has nothing against Caesar and is not making this decision based on jealousy, unlike the other conspirators. Brutus says, “This shall make Our purpose necessary, and not envious,” [Act II, scene i, 177-178] which means that he does not want the death of Caesar to be like a murder, but rather a solution to a cause.
Brutus’s genuine loyalty towards both Caesar and his nation can be seen when he says, “not that I love Caesar less, but that I love Rome more,” [Act III, scene 2, 21-22]. His true motive is evident in this quotation and proves his patriotism. His objective was entirely different from that of the conspirators as he never intended to eliminate Caesar for the sake of envy. It is also apparent that Brutus has a conscience and is not ruthless because he greatly contemplates whether he should kill Caesar or not.
The quotation, “I have been up this hour, awake all night,” [Act II, scene i, 88] indicates that Brutus is giving this decision a lot thought and thus shows that he has a sense of integrity. Even after Caesar is killed, Brutus shows no sign of guilt and stands by his decision. It is clear that Brutus shows no signs of regret when he announces to the Romans, “Our reasons are so full of good,” [Act III, scene I, 225]. The circumstances in the play suggest that Brutus’s decision to kill Caesar revolved around a noble cause, and that he was acting for the good of the nation by doing so.
Although Brutus continuously proves that his aims are morally correct, there are a few instances in which his greed for power can be seen. It is very likely that the flaws in Brutus’s character are the main reason for his tragic downfall. One of Brutus’s major flaws is the fact that he is easily influenced by Cassius’s views. On several occasions, Cassius attempts to influence Brutus by provoking his ego by suggesting that the people of Rome want Brutus to lead them. An example of this is when Cassius states, “I have heard Where many of the best respect in Rome,” [Act I, scene ii, 58-62].
Despite the fact that it was Cassius who planted the seed in Brutus’s mind, it was Brutus who decided to follow through with the plan. It can be assumed that Brutus’s decision was influenced by Cassius’s statements. Another weakness in Brutus’s character is his bad judgement. When Brutus says, “And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg, (Which, hatch’d, would as his kind grow mischievous) And kill him in the shell,” [Act II, scene I, 32-34], it is clear that Brutus is not entirely good because he does not want to give Caesar a chance.
His judgement is therefore questionable in this situation. During the course of the play, Brutus seems to believe that his motives are morally right. However, his uncertainty can be observed when he tells his wife, Portia, “I am not well in health…” [Act II, scene I, 257]. If Brutus truly believed he was doing a good deed, he would have told Portia the truth. It is possible that Brutus’s objectives were not entirely right judging by the fact that he was unsure of whether he was doing good for Rome. After killing Caesar, Brutus’s arrogance can be observed on several occasions.
At one point, Brutus even believes that he is above Cassius when he states, “Away slight man! ” [Act IV, scene iii, 37]. This shows a negative aspect in Brutus’s behaviour as he is no longer humble and takes advantage of his ‘power’. The irony in this situation is that Brutus is acting in a way in which he feared Caesar would. The idea of Brutus becoming into a tyrant like Caesar is reinforced when Cassius states, “When Caesar liv’d, he durst not thus have mov’d me,” [Act IV, scene iii, 58]. In that statement, Cassius is comparing Brutus with Caesar, and by doing so, he is calling Brutus a tyrant.
The idea of Brutus’s ignorance is continued in the quotation, “Young man, thou couldst not die more honourable,” [Act V, scene I, 60]. Brutus is being very egoistic by saying that it should be an honour to be killed by a man like him. A definite change in Brutus’s character can be seen throughout the play. His usual modesty remains lacking towards the end of the play as he becomes conscious of his power. Although Brutus was not initially greedy for power, his egoistic side subconsciously leads to his desire for staying in power.
The irony in this situa In the beginning of the play, Brutus is evidently a good person and shows indefinite loyalty towards his nation. Brutus appears to be willing to sacrifice a lot, including his friendship, in order to achieve peace for Rome. However, throughout the course of the play, Brutus’s personality shows a change in which his greed for dominance can be observed. However, despite the fact that he became greedy for power, his motives did not change and he still desired the best for Rome.
Hence, it can be concluded that although Brutus changed in a negative way, a part of his consciousness remained intact which urged him to remain noble. His decision to kill Caesar was not driven by envy, unlike the other conspirators, but by the love for his country. Whether Brutus was right to kill Caesar or not, he still remained honourable till the very end. The world will never truly know whether Brutus’s intentions were falsified, but one fact is for certain: as said by Mark Antony, Brutus was truly “the noblest man of them all”.