Marcus Brutus’s actions were unjust in play Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
Marcus Brutus the Villain in Shakespeare’s “Tragedy of Julius Caesar”
Marcus is one of the main characters in Shakespeare’s “Tragedy of Julius Caesar”. He is portrayed as a close friend of Julius Caesar and is a man of great integrity and honor whose duty first is to the Roman Empire. Despite the friendship, Marcus opposes Caesar on principle, and he has secret misgivings about Caesar. He fears that the crown will turn Caesar into a tyrant and being of aristocratic origin, he also fears for their traditional privileges given Caesar’s political reforms. In an effort he feels for the greater general good, he ends up getting involved in a conspiracy to unseat Caesar. Despite his noble motives, his actions are unjust and have dire consequences.
Brutus’ misplaced virtue sees him head a conspiracy to assassinate and unseat Caesar, who, apart from being a friend is “the highest representative of the state” (Gutenberg.org). His actions are not based on any facts but on the feeling that the crown will transform Caesar into a different person and prove a sacrament of evil. He is a patriot at heart and a man of integrity who does what he does for the greater good of Rome and he “knows no personal cause to spurn at him but for the general” (Lklivingston.tripod.com), but his deeds are based on a delusion. He says that he has been “at war with himself” (Lklivingston.tripod.com) and Cassius gentle probing question filled with undertones deludes him into thinking that an assassination conspiracy is a justice. It is even a greater injustice to his friendship with Caesar that he takes all that Cassius says as gospel and doesn’t give a thought about consulting with Caesar about his fears and misgivings.
There is no justice in the assassination, no matter the cause. From the moment Brutus agreed to head the conspiracy and even had that secret meeting in his orchard he started down an unjust path. After the successful assassination of Caesar on the “Ides of March” (Cliffsnotes.com) he tries to convince the crowd that what they did was necessary. He wants the crowd to see him and his fellow conspirators as “sacrificers, but not butchers [sic]” (Lklivingston.tripod.com), and “be called purgers, not murderers [sic]” (Lklivingston.tripod.com). He paints Caesar as an ambitious tyrant who would have turned them into slaves and his strong words temporarily turn the crowd against Caesar. He says, “Because he was ambitious, I killed him” (Lklivingston.tripod.com) and it is not just that he belittles Caesar and his achievements in this way. It is not just that he presents himself as the “knight in shining armor” that has come to rescue the people from the “ambitious” (Lklivingston.tripod.com) Caesar. After Antony brings the crowd to their senses, a servant reports that Brutus and Cassius “have ridden like madmen through the gates of Rome” (Shakespeare-online.com). They choose to run and hide instead of facing their actions. If they had complete conviction that their deeds were just, they would have stood their ground and explained themselves to the people of the Rome Empire. Brutus decision to kill himself is also an injustice; to his army of followers and to himself. He owed them at the very least the honor of a dignified death at the battle field urging them and leading them on.
Many people may argue that Brutus is actually the hero of the play. Antony says that Brutus was the “noblest Roman of them all” (Cliffsnotes.com). He is continuously lauded as a noble man of great integrity by many. Some may even argue that he values the Roman nation above friendship and does what needs to be done for the greater good of Rome. Despite the overwhelming evidence to support all this, some glaring inconsistencies undermine all that. For starters, there is no solid evidence of Caesar’s tyranny. The fact that he refuses the crown thrice when Antony was offering it actually tells otherwise. This leads one to question Brutus’ actual motivation for his actions; jealousy? Fear of the unknown? In addition to causing spillage of innocent blood, his actions plunge the nation into a civil war that destabilizes it.
All the information leads to a villain Brutus, not a hero Brutus. His actions are pure unjust and cause more harm than good to loved ones as his wife, fellow conspirators like Cassius and friends like Caesar and to beloved Rome empire. It is therefore fitting that Brutus dies a villain and an enemy of the people; a coward for taking his own life. Caesar’s murder has been avenged, and justice has been served.
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908. Shakespeare Online. 5 May 2015. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/juliuscaesar/juliushudson.html >
Mabillard, Amanda. Julius Caesar Character Introduction. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/juliuscaesar/juliuscaesarcharacters.html >
Lklivingston.tripod.com. ‘Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: A Paraphrase’. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 May 29, 20152015.
Perry, Martha, and E. Vickers, James. CliffsNotes on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. 23 May 2015.</literature/j/julius-caesar/play-summary>.
‘The New Hudson Shakespeare: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare’. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 May 2015. < http://www.gutenberg.org/files/28334/28334-h/28334-h.htm >
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