Act 2 Scene 1 Commentary
Brutus speaks lines 162-183 in Act 2 Scene 1 after Cassius suggests having ‘Antony and Caesar fall together’ in Line 161. However, in line 165, Brutus is against murdering Antony because he calls Antony ‘but a limb of Caesar.’ This line represents Brutus’s belief that Antony has very little power without the support of Caesar, and with Caesar’s assassination Antony will have minimal authority and influence over the Senate of Rome. Therefore it would make little sense in terms of politics to kill Antony. Brutus is a noble man who only acts for the greater good of Rome, and killing Antony would not have a positive or negative effect on Rome. For that reason Brutus is opposed to the assassination of Antony. In lines 181-183 he also says ‘And for Mark Antony, think not of him, For he can do no more than Caesar’s arm When Caesar’s head is off.’ In these lines Shakespeare uses metaphors to represent Antony’s dependence on Caesar as ‘Caesar’s arm’ and Caesar’s power and control is represented as ‘Caesar’s head.’ A human arm cannot function and be in control when there is no head to direct it. In the case of Antony and Caesar, Brutus supposes that Antony will not be trouble for the conspirators because after ‘Caesar’s head’ is gone, all that will be left is ‘Caesar’s arm’ which will be of no use because there is no Caesar for the arm to be effective.