Throughout Julius Caesar, Brutus’s actions have very extensive ramifications, I wish to review his actions and the motivating factors behind those actions. I intend to prove that Brutus had a strong and well-grounded persona. He had good intentions; however, he made one fatal mistake and that was his downfall. He had many positive qualities. I wish to bring these to the light and delve into how they affected the plot.
Brutus is a very sincere man. He truly believes that his role in Cassius’s assassination plot is for the good of Rome and her citizens. This becomes very apparent when he says, “But for the general. He would be crown’d: How that might change his nature, there’s the question.” (Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 12-14) This truly innocent way of thinking allows him to be persuaded by Cassius to go against Caesar. He is also an honest man. He refuses to take a bribe in lines 75-78 of Act 4, Scene 3. “By any indirection: I did send to you for gold to pay my legions, Which you denied me: was that done like Cassius?” This is honesty that gained him the respect of the people. Brutus was a naive man as well. Sincerity is often misconstrued as being naive; however, I will treat each as a separate characteristic. Brutus’s naive spirit is mostly shown not in one single action, but in the overall willingness he has to believe that those around him are essentially good. “Only be patient till we have appeased The multitude, beside themselves with fear, and then we will deliver you the cause why I, that did love Caesar when I struck him, Have thus proceeded.” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 179-183); And also when he said: “So fare you well at once; for Brutus’ tongue hath almost ended his life’s history: Night hangs upon mine eyes; my bones would rest.” (Act 5, Scene 5, Lines 38-42) Brutus was also of noble birth. This isn’t really a character trait, but it is one reason why he may have been in such a high ranking political position. “I will with patience hear, and find a time Both meet to hear and answer such high things. Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this: Brutus had rather be a villager Than to repute himself a son of Rome. (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 169-173)
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Brutus is also a philosophical thinker. He has predetermined ideas on life that govern his actions and decisions throughout the play. Such examples are his unwillingness to let the conspirators kill Marc Antony in their zealous goal to create a political coup. “For Antony is but a limb of Caesar: Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius. (Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 166-168) He also allows Antony to speak at Ceasar’s funeral, and on top of that allows him to speak last. Allowing him to be the latter speaker at the funeral is a very important matter. Some can say it was a blunder, others might say it was Brutus’s way of being honourable. Speaking last to a crowd like that allowed him to effectively get the last word and impart his thoughts first and foremost to the crowd. The crowd believes in what the conspirators did until Antony spoke, and if the crowd believes in the conspirator’s cause, then the outcome would be much different. “Our arms, in the strength of malice, and our hearts of brothers’ temper, do receive you in With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence. Cassius: Your voice shall be as strong as any man’s In the disposing of new dignities.”(Act 3, Scene 1, Lines
175-179) Another point in which Brutus stood up for the philosophy by which he lived was at the battle of Phillipi where he decided to risk everything. This strategic viewpoint is either a sound or unsound decision, depending on your point of view. Regardless of that, it is what Brutus believes in, and he stood up for it.
I initially began this thesis having the opposite point of view. I thought that Brutus was a poor template for the role that Shakespeare put him in. However, I soon realized that Brutus, in fact, was a staple of moral fortitude because of the reasons I have previously stated. The plot revolves around Brutus and thus his actions are often scrutinized and are important to understand. Brutus is a statue of honour and should be recognized as such.
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