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

Authors Avatar

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.

              Brutus is first introduced during Act I, Scene II, He appears to be a man at war with himself, torn between his love for Caesar and his honorable concern for Rome. This is reflected within the lines, “What means this shouting? I do fear the people choose Caesar as their king…yet I love him well” (lines 85-89). He worries that it is not in Rome’s best interest for Caesar to become king, yet he hates to oppose his friend.

His relationship with Cassius is first introduced as he prominently steps into Brutus’ personal crisis and begins his campaign in an attempt to recruit Brutus to the conspiracy. It is apparent however that Brutus’ astute character is aware and not led by his friends persuasive techniques, revealing his previous apprehensions of Caesar’s growing power; “he will climber upward…he unto the ladder turns his back…” suggesting that Brutus feels Caesar will turn his back on the people of Rome. Ironically though it can be argued that Brutus assassinated his friend to prevent one man ruling the Roman Empire, history was later to make this a reality. This is suggested in his funeral oration over Caesar’s body, “Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious I slew him.” The harsh balanced opposition of the first two lines is extremely clever and maximizes effect, also proving useful in portraying Brutus’ personality through his speech proving not only his skills as an orator, but also his rigid ideas.

Join now!

Brutus’ oration skills were made apparent after the speech at the market place over Caesars’ body (act III scene II). The symmetrical structure of the speech, the balanced sentences, its ordered procedure and rhetorical schemes is typical of the style of roman orators. Each phase of the speech cleverly uses its own rhetorical pattern, the line, “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious; I slew him” he uses four statements in the same form repeated in reverse order with ...

This is a preview of the whole essay