William Shakespeares Julius Caesar portrays Caesar in the title role
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William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar portrays Caesar in the title role,
although Marcus Brutus is the play’s tragic hero. Brutus is an honourable, noble
and virtuous man. He is not concerned with his self interest, but with Rome. He
devotes his life to the good of Rome and his actions are not done for himself.
However, Brutus’s main flaw is his idealism which is not at all tempered by
practicality. This affects the conspiracy and his decision making in critical areas.
His idealism is shown in three incidents in the play which as a result, contribute
to his destruction.
Brutus first reveals his impractical idealism by allowing Caesar’s ally,
Antony to live. The conspirators question Antony’s being alive but it is
Cassius who fears it the most. His pragmatism tells him that in order for the
conspiracy to thrive, Antony must be killed as well. But, Brutus forces them to
reject their concerns as he has complete confidence in their cause. He believes
that Caesar sacrificed himself for the good of Rome. He says, “Let us be
sacrificers, but not butchers” (Act 2,Scene1 166). His goal is to give Rome it’s
freeedom and by killing Antony he says, “ Our course will seem too bloody,... To
cut the head off and then hack the limbs,/ Like wrath in death and envy
afterwards” (Act 2, Scene1 162-164). However, Brutus fails to see Antony for
what he really is. Cassius attempts to point this out to him, “We shall find of
him/A shrewd contriver; and you know, his means,/If he improve them, may well
stretch so far/As to annoy us all” (Act 2,Scene1 157-160). Brutus truly believes
that he and the conspirators will be seen as saviors rather than murderers and he
will not let anything that does not agree with his idealism obstruct his path.
Brutus’s idealism also helps to defeat him when he consents to letting
Antony speak freely at Caesar’s funeral, despite Cassius’s warning. Antony has
come forward to the group of conspirators and leads them to believe that he
wants to join their conspiracy. Brutus sees him as a brother and has total trust in
him. This reflects his idealism in that he cannot see that Antony may take
revenge. He says, “, and our hearts/Of brother’s temper,do receive you in/With
all kind love,good thoughts and reverance” (Act 3,Scene1 174-176). Besides his
confidence in Antony, Brutus has great confidence in the moral justification of
their cause. Cassius is a more cautious and practical man as he says to Brutus,
“That Antony speak in his funeral:/Know you how much the people may be
moved/By that which he will utter?”(Act 3,Scene1 232-234). Brutus assuredly
responds, “I will myself into the pulpit first,/And show the reason of our Caesar’s
death”(Act 3,Scene1 236-237).He believes that their cause is legitimate and once
their reasons are voiced, there can be no other arguments. Brutus feels no need to
stay for Antony’s speech and as he departs he says, “ I do entreat you, not a man
depart,/Save I alone, till Antony have spoke.” (Act 3,Scene2 62-63).
Finally, Brutus’s estimations of the Roman people show how idealistic he
is. Brutus has too much faith in these Romans. He believes that their nobility is as
great as his. While justifying Caesar’s death to the raging masses, Brutus lists
several reasons. He says, “ Not that I loved Caesar/ less,but I loved Rome more.
Had you rather/Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar/were dead,
to live all freemen?” (Act 3,Scene2 22-25). However, the Romans do not grasp
that he wants them to have their freedom because they don’t understand what that
freedom is. They are lost on his logic.One minute they anger for Caesar and the
next they cheer for Brutus. The effect is ironic as the crowds cheer, “Let him be
Caesar” (Act 3,Scene2 52). Brutus underestimates what they want and what
they understand.On the other hand, Antony relates to their baser instincts. He
speaks to their emotions and to their greed. The crowds cheer “The will! the will!
we will hear Caesar’s will.” (Act 3,Scene2 141) and Antony responds, “ Have
patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;/It is not meet you know how Caesar
loved you” (Act 3,Scene2 143-143). Brutus’s idealism went way beyond their
Brutus’s destruction was due to one thing, his idealism. These three
incidents led to a gradual
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Cultural depictions of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus, Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears
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