“Et tu Brute?” Caesar’s simple statement sums up Brutus’ round character in the development of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Brutus was thought no threat and an ingenious right-hand man due to his nobility and his loyalty; however, these qualities are precisely why the story is such a catastrophe. What stemmed from these traits is the last expected outcome. Caesar’s surprise was so immense, he could only mutter these last few words. Brutus’ honourable nobility, his loyal patriotism, and his naïve and idealistic manner outline Shakespeare’s tragic hero.
Honour is an underlying foundation of Brutus and can be clearly seen during the play’s dramatic speeches. Brutus himself makes his honour apparent in his orations. After the assassination of Caesar and during the funeral speech, Brutus asks the people of Rome, “Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him, I have offended” (act III, sc ii, ln 29-32). This is Brutus proves he is noble as he cares and protects the welfare of the people and Rome as a whole. He is torn between his sense of duty with Rome and his friendship with Caesar. In the end; however, he must rationalize his actions to save face and conform to both sides of his conflict. Furthermore, Brutus tries to prove his nobility to virtually everyone. When Brutus utters his last words, he tells Caesar his intentions, “I killed thee with half so good a will” (act V, sc v, ln 50-51). His honour is always persistent and never fails to prevail in even the most taxing and awkward situation. Brutus considers his honour in every aspect and choice in his life and often rules over his own accord. Accordingly, many people, including his enemies, were very much aware of his honour. When he witnesses Brutus’ dead body at the battleground of Philipi, Antony states he is the “noblest Roman of them all” and “all the conspirators save only he, Did that they did in envy of great Caesar; he, only in a general honest…” (act V, sc v, ln 68-71). Brutus’ honour is so strong and visible even his enemies witnessed his astonishing nobility. Antony knows Brutus would only do such an act with true vindication, although the other conspirators, while still noble, would not hold true to the high standard Brutus’ created. Brutus’ nobility was clarified with his speeches and made easily seen due to others aware of this strong support of his character.
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Also unmistakably obvious is Brutus’ loyal patriotism to his country. Brutus knows his own loyalty and values it above almost anything. Brutus illustrates his great patriotism by comparing it with death, “If it aught toward the general good, Set honour in one eye and death i’th’ other…as I love the name of honour more than I fear death” (Act I, sc ii, ln 85,86,89). Brutus values Rome above anything else and would be willing to give his life for the “general good.” Brutus claims he will be loyal to the end, due to his great love for Rome. Likewise, Brutus’ patriotism covers every aspect of society. Brutus discusses the killing of Caesar with his fellow conspirators and claims Caesar’s “death is a benefit” and also says they now should cry “Peace, freedom, and liberty!”(act III, sc i, ln 103,110). Brutus wishes to celebrate all of Rome’s triumphs and is especially proud to be a part of his country.
Brutus allows Rome to be the most pertinent factor in his life and its successes are his successes. Additionally, Brutus wants the people of Rome to know what is important and what his intentions are. He conveys this feeling during his funeral speech when he states, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” (act III, sc ii, ln 21,22). Brutus shares his patriotism with the people of Rome and wants them to share his views. For Brutus, the welfare of the nation takes precedents over that of the individual. Brutus practices a high level of loyalty and he exercises much devotion to Rome in his thoughts and speeches.
Equally important is Brutus’ overly idealistic and naive nature, which is shaped by his nobility and patriotism. Brutus has a stubborn attitude when others try to sway him away from his beliefs or his plans. Cassius believes Antony must be killed along with Caesar because of the fear he has due to his “ingrafted love he bears for Caesar” (act II, sc I, ln 184). Brutus is wrong, oblivious, and misinformed in his decision to ignore the valid requests from Cassius. Brutus is naive in thinking Cassius is wrong because Cassius has a remarkably accurate argument that should not be shunned. Consequently, Brutus has an idealistic outlook on the world, especially when dealing with people. After Antony discovered Caesar’s death, Brutus pleads with him and asks, “O Antony, beg not your death of us! Though now we must appear bloody and cruel, as by our hands and this our present act you see we do, yet see you but our hands. And this the bleeding business they have done” (act III, sc I, ln164-169). Brutus comprises an exaggeratedly idealistic outlook and attitude when dealing with people.
This is demonstrated when he aims to befriend Antony. This is Brutus is a tragic flaw; his optimism often spoils his proper judgment. Brutus believes everyone to be as strong-willed and honourable as himself, which causes an artificially manifested and false trust to be placed in others. Also, Brutus’ naive nature skews and impairs his judgment. Cassius pleas with Brutus to withhold Antony’s pressing request to speak at Caesar’s funeral, “You know not what you do; do not consent that Antony speaks in his funeral. Know you how much the people may be moved by that which he will utter” (act III, sc I, ln 232-234). Brutus has an incredibly naive reflection, which fashions an unfortunate stubbornness. He will not allow himself to recognize others’ points of view and has an overly optimistic view with his actions, which makes for his idealism is a tragic flaw. Brutus boasts an exceedingly naive and idealistic approach when dealing with others; this is flaunted throughout the play by means of Brutus irrationally refusing such sound ideas.
In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Brutus has many of the quintessential characteristics to compose an archetypal Shakespearean tragic hero. Brutus has many interconnected facets to his being that, although they structure his strong traits, ultimately are his downfall. His high moral code and his dedication to Rome produce his untimely faults and distort his judgment. In conclusion, a number of positive attributes can combine and form a poor and demeaning trait to one’s identity. Brutus’ character can be best categorized with his honour, his loyalty to Rome, and his naive and idealistic disposition.
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