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Compare and Contrast – Cassius and Brutus from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

The play “Julius Caesar” was written by William Shakespeare, the play is based on what really happened approximately 1500 years ago, with king Julius Caesar’s assassination. Here I will compare and contrast Caius Cassius and Marcus Brutus, two of the main characters in the play, the main men responsible for the murder of Caesar. First, I will describe the character of Brutus in as much depth as I can. Marcus Brutus was probably Caesar’s most trusted friend. “I would not Cassius, yet I love him well”. Brutus: Act 1.2 82. However, he is pressurized into murdering him. Brutus is a strange character, his character varies constantly throughout the play, he can seem the bold warrior who will never back down, and then he can be the little man who is forced into the murder of his friend and King. Before the Murder, he is seen as one of the most respected members of society, honoured and loved by all.

However, when he is asked to participate in murdering Caesar, he may have refused, but considering the circumstances, he gave in too quickly, from this we see he is respected and loyal, but easily pressurized. He could also be seen as a na�ve man, this is because after he refused to murder Caesar, Cassius managed to trick him into thinking it was for the good of Rome, how could murdering the most popular leader of Rome be good for it? Brutus managed to believe so, so much so that he almost immediately obliges to murder him. Later on in the play, it becomes quite clear that Cassius wanted this murder done for the good of himself. Brutus has good qualities too, if you look at it the other way, he was willing to murder his King and good friend, thinking it was for the good of Rome, this portrays his noble quality. His nobility continues up until his death when he falls onto his own sword, the noble Romans’ death.

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“This was the Noblest Roman of them all”. Antony: Act 5.5 68. However, in my view, it is cowardly to kill yourself rather than fight to the end, but all Romans did this. The most obvious characteristic of Brutus, which is often missed out, is the fact that he is a murderer. He has a dagger in hand, steps up, and stabs Caesar, this shows a lot of courage, the courage to step up and kill a man that has given everything that you asked of him. Brutus is quite a secretive man. In Act 2 Scene 2, he has a row with his wife Portia. She wanted to know why Brutus’ behaviour had altered in recent times, Brutus insisted to her she was better of not knowing, she ends up so angry that she stabs herself in the leg to show she can carry any burden laid upon her by Brutus, he remains silent. This shows that he was willing to go to extreme lengths to keep his wife from knowing something that would harm her, little did he know she would end up harming herself trying to find out.

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Therefore, he is quite a caring man as well. “O ye Lord, render me worthy of this noble wife!” Brutus: Act 2.2 302/3. Therefore, as you can see, Brutus has a wide range of characteristics, some of which make him a good nobleman, some of which do not. Brutus is probably the main character throughout the play. Cassius also plays a very important role in the play. His character, however, is quite different from Brutus’. Cassius is mainly known for his cunning and conniving ways, he’s into making plans to change things for the better of himself, this, evident with the murder. He is ambitious, which can be seen as a good or bad thing. The murder of Caesar was in spite of his ambition to get to the top, to be emperor. Previously it is clearly stated Cassius wanted Caesar dead due to his arrogance, and constant gain of power, he could easily be seen as a hypocrite. As in Act 1 Scene3, he is with Casca, who fears the worst (about the murder), when there is a big thunderstorm that night.

Cassius simply tells him to fear nothing, saying that he himself went out during the storm and bore all to it, he remained unharmed, he is seeing himself as a special being, exactly what got him against Caesar in the first place. “A man no mightier than thyself, or me,” (Cassius seeing himself as “mighty”) Cassius: Act 1.3 76. This also in relation to Cassius’ power, it’s all good being in the Senate, but that wasn’t enough for Cassius, he wanted to go right to the top. He is quite a smooth talker; this is linked with his deviousness, telling Brutus that what he’s doing is for the good of Rome when it clearly isn’t. He also smooth talks Casca into thinking nothing is wrong when he senses danger, saying that he is afraid of no one, and Caesar’s murder will be a success, this is where he becomes a much more arrogant character.

Caesar actually thought Cassius was a thinking man who was should be seen as a threat. (He is right). “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much. such men are dangerous”. Caesar: Act 5.5 194/95. He was in suspicion that Cassius was up to something, which was true. Being lean in Roman times was a sign of not much wealth, as rich people could afford to eat as much food as they pleased. Caesar saw the thinking as a bad thing because he never knew what he was thinking. Therefore, Caesar sees Cassius as a poor and devious man! When Cassius and Brutus have the argument in the tents mid-way through the battle Cassius shows his bad temper. They shout at each other for a long period. Brutus doesn’t really have a temper but does shout back, but it is evident that Cassius gets angry easily, obviously not in the text, but in a version on video he is picking things up and getting ready to throw them at Brutus, he gets absolutely livid over something, not really that severe.

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One very ironic characteristic that Shakespeare gave to Cassius is that he made it so he died on his birthday, which is what happened to Caesar, it in a way shows you that although Cassius has been made into the irritating evil character, his death coming on his birthday is maybe just a little point to gather sympathy, didn’t work! “This is my Birthday; as this very day Was Cassius born”. Cassius: Act 5.1 72/3. So Caius Cassius, quite the character, is a rude arrogant man with a clever and sly way of thinking, Had it not been for his ambitions, plots and lies, The play was very much based on Cassius’ plans, he changed the play. Now to point out the similarities and differences between Cassius and Brutus, there are probably more differences than there are similarities. Here I will go through as many as I can pick out. One of the most evident differences between the two is the motivation towards Caesar’s murder. Cassius tells Brutus that it is for the good of Rome when it comes to it, so Brutus’ intentions are good, he wants to kill Caesar to improve Rome.

Cassius wanted Caesar dead to grab the power, he murdered Caesar to get himself to the top, although he said differently. So here we see the first difference, Cassius is a greedy and power-hungry man, and does not care about ruining Rome by killing Caesar. In Brutus’ case, he doesn’t want to be emperor, he wants Rome to be a better place, and he is convinced by Cassius’ pathetic approach. The two of them hugely disagree on battle plans, Cassius wants to go and attack the enemy when Brutus wants to wait for them. As the soldiers are approaching, Cassius and Brutus are thinking of what to do. Cassius opts to go and attack them, in the hope they’ll be surprised. Brutus thinks they’ll be expecting this, and says they should wait on them to arrive, by the time they get here, they’ll be tired and therefore weaker. They argue for a long time shouting at each other and say things they later admit shouldn’t have done.

This all shows that Cassius is aggressive and impatient, he wants to attack. On the other hand, Brutus is, well not laid back as such, but wants to take a chance, very patient as well. One difference that isn’t usually noticed is that they both think differently of Antony, Brutus sees him as an honourable Roman who would never go against his word (his word, in this case, being to stay on the side of the conspirators and protect them against angry crowds). Cassius thinks Cassius must be dealt with (killed) quickly before he spills the word to Rome that the conspirators had no good motivation on killing Caesar and should be killed themselves. I think this isn’t usually noticed because Cassius is right, and as he is the disliked character, no one wants to see when he is right. To switch around completely, to one of the clearest differences. The deaths of Cassius and Brutus are very different.

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Cassius realizes his defeat, and instead of committing suicide by stabbing himself (the honourable Roman death), he gets his servant Pindarus to stab him, which is known as cowardly and weak, this is how Shakespeare wanted Cassius to be portrayed at his death. Brutus dies the honourable Roman death, for the same reason (the realization of defeat), he gets his servant Strato to hold out his sword for him to run into. This is what he does, and when Antony and the rest find him, Antony himself says that Brutus was the noblest Roman of them all. The two men have very few similarities although they were on the same side. Both of the men are murderers, they both stuck a knife into Julius Caesar, they both played a part in killing him. They are murderers, however, it rolls of them quite easily, they don’t get anxious about it later, Brutus shows begins to be unnerved when he encounters the ghost of Caesar in a dream.

To their credit, both of them fought with great heart and refused to yield, However, they both died in the same sort of way, this being that they both realized defeat and did not want to be defeated in battle and both preferred to be killed out of battle. So to conclude, Cassius and Brutus are both essential members of the play, I prefer Brutus, as most probably would, as Shakespeare has made him be the more honourable, likeable character. They were both members of the Senate, and both conspirators, they murdered Caesar, the two of them were good warriors, leaders, in a way. However, they had a fair share of differences, motivations, bravery, temper, and many more. Both men were essential to the plot in their own way. Cassius being the devious scheming man who tricks Brutus into killing Caesar, the evil in the play. Brutus is the loyal friend who is pressurized into killing Caesar which is the main part of the play, without him to go along, and Cassius to scheme Julius Caesar would’ve been just another, rich, beloved Roman Emperor!

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Compare and Contrast - Cassius and Brutus from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. (2021, May 15). Retrieved January 25, 2022, from