The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar": Brutus Character Analysis

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Marcus Brutus’ inner conflict and motivation were a featured theme in William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. His series of poor decisions, because his actions were the cause of downfall and insurrection, led to liquidation and upheaval in the city he holds in his heart. We as the readers were able to go on the walk through his mind to put ourselves in his position to observe his actions and thought processes from a different standpoint. The ambition of the following is to analyze Brutus’ actions that led to his final decisions and his part in the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, as well as look at his reasoning and motives to compare them with those of Cassius and determine whether they are nobler or less noble.

Brutus is known as a ‘tragic hero’ in Shakespeare’s piece. He must choose between fidelity to his friend or fidelity to his country. This is the basis of his inner conflict, an ever-present thesis in the play. He rises as the most complex character; we see him battle with his mind. What meets the eye when it comes to his actions was true callousness, while he saw it as an act of defense against his people. His romanticism was a boon and a bane in the world of the play where egocentric ambition appears to overlook all, for it caused him miscalculations, yet to my mind, he lived up to Marc Antony’s description of him as “the noblest Roman of them all”.

Cassius stands serrated as an opposite to Brutus, who has a noble spirit. He was merely interested in his own life, and his traits relate to those of people we see in everyday life. His hard-boiled nature shows itself in Act I, Scene II. “That noble minds keep us ever with their likes; for who so firm that cannot be seduced? Caesar doth bear me hard, but he loves Brutus. If I were Brutus now, and he were Cassius, he should not humor me”

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From the reader’s position, we come to the debatable topic of whether or not he was right to join the plot of Caesar’s assassination on the Ides of March. This is where emotion and logic blend. In Brutus’ eyes, he saw that Caesar would destroy the Roman Structure that was the Senate and claim it as his, therefore he thought that killing him would prevent this. To take a look at it from the conspirators’ position, they did not know of Caesar’s plans, and that may have raised suspicion amongst them, in addition to Caesar refusing the crown thrice. In my conviction, Brutus lacked self-knowledge at times, for he allowed himself to easily be operated by Cassius. Had he been more in line with his strengths and weaknesses, he would have questioned Cassius and seen him as a puppet master, and cross-examined why he had such venom in his body for Caesar; why he went to means of public shaming like those of comparing him to “a girl”. I think aloud on this one; could it have been this way because he was in such a quandary, or was he blinded by the chances of his repute being ruined?

Brutus allowed Cassius to manipulate his emotions during his troubled state. Cassius ultimately convinces Brutus to join the conspirators by planting anonymous letters from Roman citizens around his home. The faked letters contained information saying Caesar’s removal would be better for Roman society. In my notion, he was wrong to join the conspirators based on this event. Rather than allowing himself to be manipulated, he should have taken the time to listen to himself rather than Cassius, who convinced him that once he took the crown, he’d abuse his great power and forget those who helped him when he was in need. Caesar was weak when he was drowning in the Tibus River. He pleaded “Help me, Cassius, or I sink! The conspirators did not bring their scandalous plan to a halt, but divulged that they were not killing him wrathfully, but “boldly”.

When making his final decisions, he has to choose between his relationship with Caesar and duties to keep Caesar’s ostensible ambition of tearing down the Roman Republic. He does, however, and his inner conflict comes to a close in Act II, Scene I, where he resolves it in his soliloquy. “I know no personal cause to spurn at hum, but for the general.” He asserts that he holds no grudges against Caesar, but must join the conspiracy for the common weal. A metaphor involving a serpent in his shell is introduced here, where our tragic hero refers to Caesar as a serpent who must be killed whilst he is still in the egg to prevent what is to come, “which hatched, would, as his kind, grow mischievous”.

It is almost undeniable that Brutus’ rationales are one of the most heavily discussed topics when it comes to Shakespeare’s tragedy. In his monologue, he claims his reasons are because he will become dangerous one day, and he cares for Rome more than anything. Is there more to Brutus’ mind than meets the eye? The Romans longed for Brutus to save them from the torment of tyrannous Caesar. Cassius managed to guilt-trip Brutus by saying that Caesar is praised like a god while they are slaves that fall to his feet, and sent fake letters to persuade him.

His saying “That my love for Caesar was no less than his, but that my love for Rome was greater than my love for Caesar” showed us that he did not intend to put an end to Caesar for the same reasons Cassius did. Brutus’ actions were far nobler than Cassius’. Cassius wanted to put a “sting” on Caesar for the grudge he holds against him, whereas Brutus’ motivation was because of his loyalty towards Rome. This demonstrates true allegiance and honorability in Brutus’ character. To execute a fellow citizen solely based on bitterness is nowhere near noble, but rather puerile.                           

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