Julius Caesar


 All people have definite concepts of self. In different
situations, one may feel short, tall, smart, slow, fast, talkative,
reserved, etceteras. These self-concepts are usually very different than
how others opinions of us. Depending on one's actions, words or even tone
of voice, one may misrepresent oneself and be misinterpreted. One may be
so arrogant or so humble that they prevent themselves from seeing
themselves through others' eyes. In William Shakespeare's play Julius
Caesar, two main characters, Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, present
different personas- one being each characters actual
self-characterizations, which we learn through their discussions with
others, and another is how they are actually perceived in the eyes of
others. Their inability to project their true motives in performing
certain actions eventually brings about their tragic downfalls.
 Julius Caesar believed that people needed one strong ruler in
order to have maximum production and proper function of a society. He
believed that he possessed many, if not all, of the characteristics
required of a great leader. He spoke to others in a way which he believed
exhibited authority, told people why he should be the one to lead them,
and thought that his own advice was best. His unwillingness to listen to
others is received as arrogance. Though already warned by the soothsayer
to "beware the ides of March," Caesar refuses to heed advice to stay home
from Calpurnia, his wife, because he feels that she is trying to keep him
from obtaining power and status. Calpurnia believes Caesar to be a prince
and is convinced that some falling meteors are warnings of a prince's
death. When she hears her husband boast that he is more dangerous than
danger itself, she recognizes that this is simple arrogance, and tells him
so, saying, "Alas, my lord/ Your wisdom is consumed in confidence (Act II,
scene 2)." In response to her criticism and humble petitions, Caesar
momentarily agrees to pacify her. However, when he changes his mind and
decides to leave against her admonitions, she reluctantly, but obediently
fetches Caesar's robe and he departs for the Senate, and his meeting with
fate. Caesar's greatest character flaw, however, is thinking that he is
far above others and somehow invincible. When he compares his own
perseverance with that of the North Star, saying "But I am as constant as
the northern star/Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality/there is no
fellow in the firmament (Act III, Scene 1), " he pushes the envelope too
far. It is here that his murderers descend him upon. When Caesar
compares himself to a heavenly body, Brutus' fear about Caesar becoming
intoxicated with power begins show truth, and his conspirators feel they
must kill him. When faced with death, however, Caesar's' humanity is
restored to him. The dying Caesar is not the egotistical and power-hungry
man who has just spoken from the throne. For a moment, he is only an
idealist who cherishes the noble love of a friend more than anything in
the world. When he sees Brutus, whom he loves best, among his betrayers,
he relinquishes his hold on the world and utters, "Then fall Caesar (Act
III, scene1)."

 As a member of the conspiracy against Caesar, Marcus Brutus
declares to himself that his role in the conspiracy is to save Rome. He
says to the people, "If then that friend demand why Brutus rose /against
Caesar, this is my 
answer: Not that I lov'd /Caesar less, but that I
loved Rome more(Act 
III, scene 2)." He believes himself to be an
honorable man, to his country and to Caesar. He does not think that his
people would do well under the rule of a king, and he concludes that
Caesar would definitely want Brutus to keep him from being an insufferable
dictator. His conflict consists of his love for Caesar on one hand, and
his concern for the public good and the welfare of the Republic. When
approached by Cassius to join a conspiracy against his friend, Brutus does
spend a restless night making his decision. He can find no justification
in past actions for Caesar's murder; therefore, he finds justification for
it in what Caesar might become. He assumes that Caesar will become an
unbearable tyrant if he is made king, and it is based on this assumption
that he decides to will join in the conspiracy. The flaw in his reasoning
is that Brutus does not raise the question of whether or not a moral end
justifies immoral means, nor does he consider that his action may be met
with public disfavor. He is blindly convinced in the power of reason and
believes that the public, when they have heard his reasons, will support
his action.
Because he has little practical knowledge of life, he is blind
to the real motives and nature of men and is unfamiliar with procedures of
Brutus attempted to advocate peace, freedom, and liberty for all
Romans. He also tried to bring about solidarity amongst the conspirators.
Brutus said that if the conspirators did not join for a common cause, then
there is no need for an oath because the conspirators are self-righteous.
If the conspirators did not bind together, then each man will go his own
way, and become a weakling. "No not an oath, If not by the face of men,
/the sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse-/If these motives be weak,
break off betimes, /and every men hence to his idle bed; /So let high
sighted tyranny rage on, /till each man drop by lottery (Act II, scene
Brutus is a character who is revered. Caesar feels that Brutus is
noble to him and does the right thing, regardless of personal danger. On
the Ides of March, as Caesar was assassinated, Caesar's last line is: "Et
tu, Brute?--Then fall, Caesar."(Act 3, scene 1). This shows that Caesar
would not die without Brutus' stab. Caesar realizes that there must be a
noble reason for this assassination if Brutus was in it. This again shows
how much Caesar respects Brutus. 
Since Brutus "...loved Rome more."(Act
3,scene2), he decided to be a part of the conspiracy. If he hadn't loved
Rome more than Caesar, he would not have joined in the assassination of
Julius Caesar. Cassius and the rest of the conspirators chose Brutus to
join them and head the conspiracy because they knew how much Brutus was
respected by the people, and the people would think that if Brutus killed
Caesar, there was a good reason for it. 

After the assassination of
Julius Caesar, Brutus talks to Antony about Caesar's death. "Our hearts
you see not; they are pitiful; and pity to the general wrong of
Rome..."(Act 3, scene 1). Brutus says that Antony cannot see their
(members of the conspiracy) hearts, which are full of pity. Again, this
shows how Brutus loved Caesar but cared for the life of Rome and its
people more. It also shows his naiveté, because he believes everyone has
as pure a heart as he, but then Anthony does not follow through on a
promise made to him and declares an attack on the conspirators. Up until
his death, Brutus feels that he has done what he has for the good of the
Romans, never thinking of himself. Though his fellow conspirators were
only envious of Caesar, Brutus had only noble intentions. After he has
killed himself, even Antony declares, "And this was a man!"(Act V, scene
5) As we go through life, we must learn to be perceptive of other people's
thoughts and feelings, of not just what is going on around us, but also of
their attitudes toward us. We must take time to understand why people
feel about us the way they do and, if need be, make the changes which will
make us better able to move productively through life. If Caesar had
listened to others more and Brutus paid more attention to his deeper
judgment, both would have continued to live long, productive lives, and
not have been so susceptible to the actions and wants of others.


Quotes: Search by Author