All people have definite concepts of self. In differentsituations, one may feel short, tall, smart, slow, fast, talkative,reserved, etceteras. These self-concepts are usually very different thanhow others opinions of us. Depending on one’s actions, words or even toneof voice, one may misrepresent oneself and be misinterpreted. One may beso arrogant or so humble that they prevent themselves from seeingthemselves through others’ eyes.
In William Shakespeare’s play JuliusCaesar, two main characters, Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, presentdifferent personas- one being each characters actualself-characterizations, which we learn through their discussions withothers, and another is how they are actually perceived in the eyes ofothers. Their inability to project their true motives in performingcertain actions eventually brings about their tragic downfalls. Julius Caesar believed that people needed one strong ruler inorder to have maximum production and proper function of a society. Hebelieved that he possessed many, if not all, of the characteristicsrequired of a great leader.
He spoke to others in a way which he believedexhibited authority, told people why he should be the one to lead them,and thought that his own advice was best. His unwillingness to listen toothers is received as arrogance. Though already warned by the soothsayerto “beware the ides of March,” Caesar refuses to heed advice to stay homefrom Calpurnia, his wife, because he feels that she is trying to keep himfrom obtaining power and status. Calpurnia believes Caesar to be a princeand is convinced that some falling meteors are warnings of a prince’sdeath. When she hears her husband boast that he is more dangerous thandanger itself, she recognizes that this is simple arrogance, and tells himso, saying, “Alas, my lord/ Your wisdom is consumed in confidence (Act II,scene 2).
” In response to her criticism and humble petitions, Caesarmomentarily agrees to pacify her. However, when he changes his mind anddecides to leave against her admonitions, she reluctantly, but obedientlyfetches Caesar’s robe and he departs for the Senate, and his meeting withfate. Caesar’s greatest character flaw, however, is thinking that he isfar above others and somehow invincible. When he compares his ownperseverance with that of the North Star, saying “But I am as constant asthe northern star/Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality/there is nofellow in the firmament (Act III, Scene 1), ” he pushes the envelope toofar. It is here that his murderers descend him upon.
When Caesarcompares himself to a heavenly body, Brutus’ fear about Caesar becomingintoxicated with power begins show truth, and his conspirators feel theymust kill him. When faced with death, however, Caesar’s’ humanity isrestored to him. The dying Caesar is not the egotistical and power-hungryman who has just spoken from the throne. For a moment, he is only anidealist who cherishes the noble love of a friend more than anything inthe world.
When he sees Brutus, whom he loves best, among his betrayers,he relinquishes his hold on the world and utters, “Then fall Caesar (ActIII, scene1). ” As a member of the conspiracy against Caesar, Marcus Brutusdeclares to himself that his role in the conspiracy is to save Rome. Hesays to the people, “If then that friend demand why Brutus rose /againstCaesar, this is myanswer: Not that I lov’d /Caesar less, but that Iloved Rome more(ActIII, scene 2). ” He believes himself to be anhonorable man, to his country and to Caesar.
He does not think that hispeople would do well under the rule of a king, and he concludes thatCaesar would definitely want Brutus to keep him from being an insufferabledictator. His conflict consists of his love for Caesar on one hand, andhis concern for the public good and the welfare of the Republic. Whenapproached by Cassius to join a conspiracy against his friend, Brutus doesspend a restless night making his decision. He can find no justificationin past actions for Caesar’s murder; therefore, he finds justification forit in what Caesar might become. He assumes that Caesar will become anunbearable tyrant if he is made king, and it is based on this assumptionthat he decides to will join in the conspiracy. The flaw in his reasoningis that Brutus does not raise the question of whether or not a moral endjustifies immoral means, nor does he consider that his action may be metwith public disfavor.
He is blindly convinced .