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    The ways in which leadership is presented in the play ‘Julius Caesar’ Essay

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    Leadership is one of the main themes presented in the play and is presented though the four characters: Cassius, Brutus, Mark Antony, and Caesar. Shakespeare calls the play Julius Caesar but I feel all the four characters have an equivalent part in the play. It is unusual for Shakespeare to kill the person who the play is named after so early on in the play, so it is very unexpected when ‘Julius Caesar’ is killed in Act Three Scene One. All these main characters share similar leadership traits.

    The four leaders that Shakespeare presents all have flaws but I think what Shakespeare is trying to illustrate to the audience is that if we mixed up all the good points of all these four characters we would get a perfect leader. I feel the way Shakespeare has presented the leadership of Brutus is the most significant and effective in contrast to the other leaders. I feel that Shakespeare empathizes with Brutus because he awards him a noble death. Brutus’s firm optimism is both his supreme asset and his most fatal flaw.

    He loves Rome too much and this allows cassius to persuade him to join the conspirators, and Brutus’s lack of awareness prevents him from seeing what Cassius’s real motives are. ‘What is it that you would impart to me? If it be aught toward the general good,’ This shows that Brutus is prepared to listen to anything Cassius has to declare as long as it is for the good of Rome. This shows that Brutus is persuaded easily when the good of Rome is mentioned. Brutus feels that if Caesar continues to be the leader of Rome then Rome will be run under dictatorship and Brutus feels that something must be done before this can happen (I. . Caesar has to be killed. )

    This is Brutus’s imperfection and is not a good feature of a leader. Contrasting with Brutus, Caesar is steady and cannot be persuaded easily. This is shown when the conspirators try to persuade Caesar to free Publius Cimber by flattering him but Caesar remains as ‘constant as the northern star’. I feel that this is a good quality of a leader, to be constant and to not be persuaded easily. Cassius and Mark Antony are similar to Caesar because they are not persuaded easily.

    Mark Antony’s firmness is shown in Act four Scene one, when he condemns the conspirators and their relations to death, he does not consider eliminating Publius, his ‘sisters son. ‘ Instead he damns him ‘with a spot. ‘ Cassius’s rigidity is shown when he refuses to give up, when persuading Brutus towards the beginning of the play, but towards the end of the play Cassius appears to always give in to Brutus. Cassius has a very influential nature. He cunningly leads Brutus to believe that Caesar has become too powerful and must die.

    Cassius uses his friendship with Brutus to get what he wants. Cassius has no illusions about the way the political world works. He is a smart speculator and he proves to be successful when he manages to persuade Brutus but he lacks honesty. This is shown in the play when he forges some letters pretending that they are from the plebeians, telling Brutus that he should kill Caesar and they, the people of Rome will support him. This demonstrates that Cassius will even deceive his own friend and use dishonest means to get what he desires.

    Brutus is an idealist and he is guided by his conflicting emotions this is shown when he is contemplating whether to kill Caesar or to remain loyal to him, he faces a hardship but decides to assist the public good by killing Caesar in order to avoid tyranny. He lacks confidence and ambition and this is illustrated with the fact that he does not lead the conspiracy but he takes part in it. He loves honour more than he fears death because he is not afraid of getting killed for murdering Caesar; instead he is concerned about being honoured for doing his finest for his country.

    Brutus is not a very persuasive character and also appears to not be a very good orator because he does not appeal to the crowd. Contrasting with Brutus, Antony on the other hand manages to win the crowd over by his powerful speech; this shows a good influential quality of a leader. Antony is similar to Cassius because they both have a persuasive nature. Antony illustrates this nature by winning the crowd over. Cassius’s persuasive nature is shown when he persuades Brutus to join the conspirators. Antony and Cassius are similar also in the way that they speak because they both appeal to the person that they are speaking to.

    Antony appeals to the crowds greed and Cassius appeals to Brutus’s love for the public good. When Antony says: ‘Tis his will Let but the commoners hear this testament. ‘ He interests the plebeians and then additionally he says: ‘I do not mean to read’. This technique of withholding information and then telling the crowd how they should feel, rouses them and makes them desperate to want to hear what the will declares. At this point Shakespeare makes it clear to the audience that Antony has appealed to the crowd’s better nature and has successfully won them over.

    Also when Cassius sends Brutus the forged letters claiming that they are from the plebeians, Brutus is utterly convinced that the plebeians also believe that eradicating Caesar will be for the public good. Brutus is loved by his servant, his wife and Cassius. Brutus is a respected person so the conspirators want to use him as a figurehead as part of the conspiracy. Brutus has the main qualities of a good leader, he is loved, respected and followed and he cares about the public good. His bad Characteristics are that he allows his emotions to get the better of him and he is not politically astute.

    He is persuaded easily when the public good of Rome is mentioned. Unlike Caesar, Brutus is able to separate entirely his public life from his private life, by giving his main concern to the matters of Rome. Cassius does not like arguing with Brutus, he is eager for affection not power unlike Caesar who is power hungry. Cassius is resentful of the fact that Caesar loves Brutus and not him. Cassius and Caesar are not sympathetic so they are similar in this way. Caesar is not sympathetic because he condemned Flavius and Marullus to death for speaking against him.

    Cassius is not sympathetic because he has no self-conflicts about killing Caesar. I feel that the only character that is sympathetic is Brutus. He is the only one that has inner turmoil and is confused. Mark Antony unlike Brutus is also an unsympathetic character in the play. This is clearly shown when Antony says: ‘These many then shall die; their names are pricked. ‘ I feel to be sympathetic is a good quality of a leader and this characteristic makes a leader loved by their public. At the beginning of the play Antony’s Character is different.

    Antony does not appear to be very politic instead his character is presented as a fun person who ‘loves music. ‘ He seems to be a compassionate, committed friend to Caesar but after Caesar’s death he changes and appears to be malicious. He is so full of loathing that his character changes entirely and Antony becomes more controlling towards the end of the play. Antony appears callous, without feeling. He is prepared to cut the money that Caesar left for the people in his will. This is shown when he says to Lepidus: ‘To cut of some charge in legacies’

    This proves that Mark Antony is insincere because at first he uses the will to win the crowd over and when he wins them over he does not give them the money that he promised. At this point the audience know Mark Antony’s character has altered for the worse. To make unfilled promises is a bad trait of a leader because the crowd could go in opposition to Antony for doing this. Towards the end of the play Antony’s character appears child like because he wants to push Lepidus out of favour, and this is shown when he describes Lepidus as a ‘slight ummeritable man.

    This shows that Antony only wants to share the power with Octavius only and not Lepidus because Octavius is the nephew of Caesar whereas Lepidus is of no relation to Caesar. This desire to eliminate Lepidus hints at Antony’s own ambitious nature. The following quotation shows exactly how Antony feels, ‘ The three-fold world divided, he should stand One of the three to share it? ‘ Antony thinks that he can influence Octavius to follow and pay attention to him but Octavius is shrewder than Antony thought he was.

    Antony and Lepidus are not getting along and are having disagreements because Antony does not like the way Octavius is ruling. This is a sign of disorder due to the death of their leader, Caesar who the audience believe was an equal to god. Another sign of chaos is shown when Brutus and Cassius have a quarrel, which becomes greater. This rift is clearly shown when Cassius says: ‘Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius For Cassius is aweary of the world: Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother;’ An additional sign of havoc is shown with the disagreement between Antony and Octavius.

    When Antony says, ‘Octavius I have seen more days then you’ this shows that he is trying to gain control and he feels he should decide who should work alongside him and Octavius but Octavius knows that he is the leader and replies Antony be saying’ he’s a tried and valiant soldier. ‘ Octavius Caesar is similar to Caesar in this way because he retains his position as the authoritative figure. Octavius is called Caesar towards the end of the play and this shows that he has managed to preserve his commanding position of the next leader after Caesar.

    Caesar is the main leader in the play even though he dies quite early. When he dies the Elizabethan audience would not feel sorry for him because of the way his character is presented in the play, as an arrogant leader and he is over ambitious. His flaw is that he cannot separate his public life from his private life and he is hooked on the idea of the plebeians worshiping him. He ignores ill omens and threats against his life as this superstition would appear as a weakness against him. Caesar appears as two different characters.

    He had two sides to him, the side that he shows the plebeians is the brave and caring leader, but the conspirators come in contact with his other side, which is arrogant and ambitious. He does not allow the people to realise what he really is like and how power hungry he really is. He refuses the crown which is presented to him by Mark Antony, three times, to show the crowd how certain things do not matter to him and this is done in front of the plebeians. Cassius is a good judge of character like Caesar and he knows what the real Caesar is like. He also knows how, with great difficulty Caesar refused the crown.

    Cassius uses anecdotes about his encounters with Caesar to persuade Brutus to be part of the conspiracy. He says: ‘Ay and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans Mark him and write his speeches in their books, Alas it cried; ‘give me some drink Titinius,’ As a sick girl,’ This shows that he has seen a different side to Caesar and he believes that Caesar should not ‘Get the start of the majestic world And bear the palm alone. ‘ Caesar thinks that Cassius is a ‘great observer’ and Cassius shows this quality and so this shows that Caesar is also like Cassius a good judge of character. I feel this is a good quality of a leader.

    Brutus unlike Caesar and Cassius is not a good judge of character and is naive in this sense. Brutus’s commitment to principle repeatedly leads him to make miscalculations: wanting to avoid violence, Brutus ignores Cassius’s suggestion that the conspirators should kill Antony as well as Caesar. In another moment of ignorant optimism, he ignores Cassius’s advice and allows Antony to speak a funeral oration over Caesar’s body. As a result, Brutus loses the authority of having the last word on the murder and thus allows Antony to rouse the plebeians to riot against him and the other conspirators.

    Brutus dies a noble death, he kills himself and when he dies Antony entitles him as ‘the noblest Roman of them all’ Cassius’s death contrasts this because Cassius dies accidentally due to some misjudgement. This shows the difference in position between Cassius and Brutus. Even though Brutus was not politically astute he deserved a noble death because he had the right purpose and Shakespeare presents his character to the audience as a good person. Caesar is killed but his significance is preserved even after he is dead. This is shown when his ghost appears and relates the play back to Caesar.

    This is a technique that Shakespeare uses to remind the audience who the play is about. All the characters that present leadership have imperfections. Caesar cannot separate his private life from his public life unlike Brutus who puts his priorities first. Brutus has self-conflict and cares too much about the public good. Contrasting with Brutus, Cassius just wants to get rid of Caesar because he does not like the idea of Caesar appearing godlike in the eyes of the crowd. He does not care about the public good and is not afraid to use his friendship with Brutus to get what he wants.

    Mark Antony is a loyal and caring friend towards Caesar but when Caesar dies he becomes vengeful and cannot see beyond avenging Caesar’s death. Caesar, Cassius and Mark Antony are all similar because they are not sympathetic characters, whereas Brutus is sympathetic. I feel all the leaders have good features but none of them are perfect as leaders. I feel that Brutus is not politically astute and due to this he makes many miscalculations. Brutus is respected in the play and has a certain position of superiority. This is what would make Brutus a good leader. Brutus is not very persuasive because he fails to appeal to the crowd.

    Contrasting this Mark Antony is very persuasive as he manages to win the crowd over. Caesar is the main leader in the play but he dies quite early. He reappears as a ghost. This shows that even though he is dead, he still manages to have an effect on Brutus. The fact that Octavius has the last say in the play shows that he is the next leader. I feel that the audience is sympathetic towards Brutus because of his conflicting emotions and confusion. Brutus dies nobly shows that he deserved a noble death because he wanted the best for Rome. Brutus only committed murder because he thought killing Caesar would assist Rome.

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    The ways in which leadership is presented in the play ‘Julius Caesar’ Essay. (2017, Oct 19). Retrieved from

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