The removal of Caesar from office by assassination in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar attempts to justify an unethical act by focusing on the motivation behind the actor instead of the righteousness of the act itself. Throughout this play, the empirical immorality of murder is ignored. A man’s ethics are surely corrupt when the taking of another’s life for the sake of politics is merited. Therefore, Shakespeare ought not to have erroneously depicted the slaying of Caesar as a satisfactory method of seizing control of ancient Rome.
Brutus compares Caesar, who was soon to be crowned, to “a serpent’s egg which hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous” who must be killed while still in its shell. The fallacy in this comparison is that a serpent is life-threatening, and Caesar only threatens Brutus’ social position. On balance, the preservation of human life should outweigh political status. In view of this, it is manifest that while Brutus may have been “an honourable man,” his logic was inherently unrigorous.
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Another example of his imperfect syllogization is when he opposes the conspirators taking an oath on their resolution to assassinate Caesar. He persistently asseverates that if their cause – their motivation – is honourable and honest, then they need not swear. “Unto bad causes swear such creatures as men in doubt,” he says. Yet the notion that their own cause might be corrupt does not occur to him. In consideration of this, Brutus appears increasingly benighted as he attempts to exonerate himself of guilt during the time preceding Caesar’s death.
Brutus’ ignorance would lead us to believe that ambition is a capital crime. All through this play, the villainous act of murder is portrayed as mercy killing, while Caesar is sacrificed for the sake of his aspiration to control Rome. In conclusion, the assassination of Julius Caesar was not an ethical way of removing him from office.
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