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Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Brutus in 'Julius Caesar'.

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Introduction

Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Brutus in 'Julius Caesar'. Marcus Brutus is a central character within the play; playing an essential role in the assassination of Julius Caesar. He is immediately portrayed as a loyal servant and close friend to Caesar creating a sense of irony in his role as conspirator. Brutus is complex, because he does not kill Caesar for greed, envy nor to preserve his social position like so many of the other conspirators against Caesar. This Brutus reinforces within his speech in Act III, Scene II, "Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?" thus, explaining his actions as being for the good of Rome. Due to this, the character of Brutus has caused a lot of controversy as to whether he was a hero or villain, Does assassinating a leader for the good of the people constitute bravery worthy of a tragic hero or can the end never justify the means? This early demonstration of Brutus' relationship to Caesar, his involvement in the conspiracy and his importance to the plot immediately engages the audience in the action and with his powerful soliloquies, the audience gains insight into the complexities of his motives. He is a powerful public figure, but he appears also as a husband, a master to his servants, a dignified military leader, and a loving friend. ...read more.

Middle

a clever technique used by Cassius in a further attempt to recruit Brutus towards the conspiracy. Throughout their relationship as companions and later brothers in arms Cassius has continually acted as a foil to Brutus. Shakespeare's demonstration of Brutus shows determination and strength excelled by Cassius; however it also reveals he lacks practicality by failing to assess consequences. He is an idealistic man, motivated by nobility and principles with his rigid idealism being both his greatest virtue and his most deadly flaw. His commitment to principle leads him to make miscalculations; wanting to avoid violence he ignores Cassius' suggestion that the conspirators kill Anthony as well as Caesar. "For Antony is but a limb of Caesar: Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers." His ignorance being an attempt to curtail violence, proving however to be a huge mistake. A further example of his commitment to principle and a moment of na�ve idealism illustrates Brutus again ignoring the advice of Cassius and allowing Antony to speak a funeral oration over Caesar's body. "You know not what you do: do not consent That Antony speak in his funeral: Know you how much the people may be moved by that which he will utter?" advice demonstrating Cassius' practicality as a leader, in comparison to Brutus' na�ve and idealistic views. As a result of this action however, Brutus forfeits the authority of having the last word on the murder, thus allowing Antony to incite the Roman populace unto rioting against him and his fellow conspirators. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is generous and caring, overall proving himself to be an honest and noble citizen. His honesty as a character is portrayed in act 4 scene III whereby he refuses to take bribes; "I can raise no money by vile means." This suggests that he does not want to resort to corrupt means in order to acquire money, again proving his nobleness and rigid idealism. This however is highly ironic and hypocritical as he is willing to take money from Cassius that has been raised due to vile means. Again proving his philosophical values are not always completely long lived. The character of Brutus Is extremely noble and dignified, this is proven when Brutus dies by suicide, a hugely noble deed in the roman era, Mark Antony describes his bitter enemy by saying, " this was the noblest roman of them all....this was a man." Mark Antony recognizes with these words that Brutus acted from a sense of civic duty, not malice nor greed nor envy, unlike the other conspirators. He realizes Brutus is not a thoughtless butcher and shows immense respect for him. In conclusion I feel that the Shakespeare portrays the character of Brutus as a powerful public figure, appearing as both a loving husband, master to his servants, dignified military leader, and a loving friend. He is extremely noble and although sometimes lacks the ability to correctly assess situations; following principle rather than military strategics, he is proven to be a very respectful and dignified Roman, dedicated to his country. ...read more.

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