Essay: Julius Caesar – Shakespeare

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  • Subject area(s): English literature essays
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  • Published on: July 16, 2019
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  • Julius Caesar - Shakespeare
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William Shakespeare is famous for his use of tragedy as a style in most of his plays. This is also seen in his play “Julius Caesar” which involves a tragic hero who ends up facing a tragic event as the play comes to an end. Caesar is killed by Brutus, who is also a character in the play. Just like most of the tragedies during the Shakespearean period, the fate of the tragic hero is often predetermined. Caesar is a military general who was in charge of the Roman military. After he was assassinated, it would have been expected that characters in play would be against his killers. However, Brutus is able to win the support of other characters in the play for his act of killing Caesar. One of the characters who found Brutus’ act as noble is Mark Antony. He is the first person to defend Brutus claiming that his act was justified. Although killing a person is often considered as evil and immoral, Brutus had reasonable grounds for killing Caesar. Mark Antony’s assertion that Brutus is the noblest Roman is therefore justified.

It takes courage, bravery and honor for one to be termed as a noble person. Brutus as a character depicts all these qualities in his act of killing Caesar. It is not that easy to eliminate a friend or someone you have been sharing close ties with for some time. One must be having valid reasons to engage in an act similar to the action that Brutus decided to take, killing his close confidant. A closer look at the motive behind the act by Brutus reveals that although he loved Caesar, Brutus’ love for Rome was greater than his love for Caesar. A man who loves his country more than one particular individual can be said to be noble. His love for Rome is portrayed when he is quoted saying “not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” (3.2, 21-22). Here, Brutus seeks to offer an answer to the question on the motive behind his action not only to the Romans but also to the reader. Brutus considered Caesar’s reign as a threat to the wellbeing of the Roman society. According to Brutus, Caesar had personal ambitions that would have been a threat to the people of Rome hence killing him would have been the wisest thing to do for the sake of the Roman people. Caesar cared for his own ambitions but not for the people of Rome. This is one of the main reasons behind his act of eliminating the military general. Brutus’ loyalty to his country and to his people is therefore what makes Mark Antony consider him as the noblest man in Roman history.

Sometimes, it takes the bold and the noble to engage in an act that most of us would shun away from doing it although there might be sufficient reasons to engage in the action. Characters such as Cassius know too well that Caesar’s existence is a threat to the Roman society due to his personal ambitions yet he is reluctant to end the life of the military general as portrayed when he says “Brutus shall lead the way, and we will grace his heels with the most boldest and best hearts of Rome. “(3.1, 135-136). In fact, Cassius agrees with Brutus that the elimination of Caesar is good for Rome. Brutus is noble because he takes the risk of killing Caesar knowing too well that the act was going to attract rage and severe consequences yet he went ahead and did what he thought was right. He pays for his actions towards the end of the place since he also dies by taking his own life and Antony Mark gives him an honorable send off since he perceived Brutus as the noblest man in Rome.

It is also evident that the relationship between Caesar and Brutus was so strong that both of them held a lot of trust and believe in one another. During his last moments, Caesar held on to the belief that Brutus had noble reasons to assassinate him, Caesar’s last words before he died were “: “Et tu, Brute? –Then fall, Caesar.”(3.1, 85). Here, it is clear that Caesar believes that Brutus has valid reasons why he wanted him dead. It also points out the respect that he had for Brutus such that he could not see any malice in Brutus’ act of assassinating. It is only a noble man who would win the trust of someone who is about to be assassinated by the same man who he is trusting. By the end of the play, Shakespeare is able to convince the reader that indeed Brutus is the noblest Roman.

Some of the points that might attract criticism in the argument that Brutus is noble include the argument that Brutus’ act was motivated by his love for Rome and that the act was not ill-motivated. It is indeed reasonable to argue out that there is no way to prove that Brutus’ indeed had no other motives behind the killing of the military general. Perhaps he also had ambitions of taking over the roles that would be left over after Caesar is dead. Most characters in the play are portrayed to selfish, it is possible that Brutus also had his own interests at heart and not the interests of the Romans.

In a nutshell, it is evident that Mark Antony’s assertion that Brutus should be considered the noblest man in Roman history is justified. Although it is morally wrong to kill a person for any reason whatsoever, Brutus’ act as proven to be an act of loyalty to one’s country rather than to one’s own self-interests. A man who is ready to pay for the consequences of his actions for the sake of the wellbeing of his country is not only a noble man but a patriot.

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