Analyzing the Impact of Ignorance as Shown by Brutus in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"

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Shakespeare's play 'Julius Caesar' is a political play. Brutus is the main character in the play. Caesar's nearest military and political associates, Brutus and Cassius, have been around for a long time. Caesar is a brilliant Roman general who enjoys returning home victorious from battles. The play takes place around a big political transformation that is anticipated. About the fact that Caesar is not the main character, the reader will identify with him by other characters. Throughout the play, people speculate about what could happen if Caesar becomes king. Caesar would not express a desire to be the monarch (Rogers, Jami). However, his choice of words and his conduct, in general, illustrates clearly that he feels superior to other human beings. In fact, it is as though he has become the king in his mind. Brutus is respected nobleman, but later in the play, he participates in the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Brutus is presented as a man of pride and honor. He justifies his course of decisions as service to Rome and not at all personal interests. At a personal level, he admires, loves and respects Caesar. However, his duty to the state comes first and therefore his plan to assassinate him is for the preservation of the Rome Republic. Brutus has a strong conviction that the death of Caesar is indeed beneficial to the state. However, his sense of honor is a weakness to him; he tends to regard all romance as though they have a level of high-mindedness as he does. Later in the play, this comes out as arrogance to the noblemen and the commoners alike. Infect Shakespeare uses Brutus to communicate that a level of arrogance like this can lead one to make mistakes that have terrible consequences.

Brutus is a noble man who believes in pursuing justice for the greater good of the public. Sadly, he ignores his private life, feelings, and loyalties throughout the play. The reader can anticipate the tension build up from ignoring personal life. Brutus does not connect with people at a personal level. More often than not he and others confuse their private identity with their public person. Brutus is a good example where he has dehumanized himself and eventually transforms into a political machine. This comes out clearly when he comes up with the philosophy that assassinating Caesar is for the greater good of Rome. He ignores his personal life, his longtime relationship with Caesar and their friendship. The fact that he loves admires and adores Caesar does not deter him from his ‘service to the country’. To him, loyalties to the country come first before loyalty to his friends and personal associates. Since Brutus is a man of knowledge, he can anticipate that Caesar would be a dictator leader and therefore eliminates the threat before it happens. As Caesar describes it to Antony, a man who does not have a private life is dangerous since he has nothing to slow him or even stop him from moving towards his goals. It is this overambition together with overconfidence that may lead to inhumane and extreme actions. Although Brutus fights for a good cause, with pure moral intentions, the failure to have a definitive relationship between personal relations and public/political motives crushes his soul later in the play. It is, however, sadder that even as the play ends.

It is important to note that Brutus though a noble man does not consult anyone on the decision to assassinate Caesar. Rather this is a decision he thinks all by himself, convinces himself that it is the right to do and moves to convince others and implement the course of action. Perhaps if Caesar had consulted the opinion of other fellow noblemen, he would not have made a mistake. The arrogance and overconfident in his intelligence is costly to him later in the play.

Brutus is arrogant in many instances. In fact, this is one of his most permeant characteristics. Cicero implies the cost that people have to pay for being arrogant when he says that men at times construe things following their fashion to mean at times they may deviate from the purpose of things themselves. The believe in himself and that he is doing the right thing makes him miss a chance to notice the portents. They present the danger that Cassius would bring. Would he have been more observant and not self-righteous, perhaps he would have noticed this before. Worse even later when Cassius comes to him, he is too arrogant and self-righteous that he does not realize as Cassius lures him joining the conspiracy. The letters that Cassius present are forged, and it is even ironical that Brutus didn’t notice that. Being a man of intellect, Brutus somehow assumes that the rest of Romans should share his level of intellect and honor. As such when Cassius presents him with fake papers he counts on this weakness that Brutus would fall for it and sure enough he does fall into the trap. After attaching an intellectual explanation or justification to the assassination, Brutus affords to convince himself that he is serving right course. Later after they have assassinated Caesar Brutus is being haunted. He feels guilty for having let himself be led to believe a lie and killed a friend for no reason. In the scene when the reader next meets him, he is in pain and feels horrible that he has done something irreversible. Sadly, Brutus does not gain awareness of the hurting he is going through. Brutus does not acquire conscious about various things and neither does he achieve self-knowledge as the play ends.

Brutus failure can be explained by two reasons. First, lack a practical understanding of men and politics. Though very intellect, Brutus fails to interact with people but instead advances in logical and abstract decision making. However, the aggressive political dynamic requires that individuals be adaptable, bargaining and compromising. Brutus ideologies however though honorable are rigid. Being this calculating is what leaves him prone to being manipulated by Cassius. The logical and abstract meaning that he attaches to Caesar’s assassination blocks him form seeing the need to examine the political maneuvering that is used to justify the murder. In contrast to Brutus, Antony proves to be the most adaptable of all the characters. Although he becomes powerful through offering himself to honor Caesar will and give the citizens their money he doesn’t tie himself to this ethical limitation. He uses the fund for political expenditure. He becomes a successful politician but has lost honor and nobility. His ensues because he has a connection with the people and their needs as well as knowledge about political dynamics (Rogers, Jami).

Induces disorder in his soul and the state when he commits himself to violence without sufficient evidence but rather on the highest abstract principles. Being a noble man, Brutus actions had an impact on the society and himself. Arrogance made his belief in and honored himself too much. He automatically believed that other people feel the same way about him. When Cassius presents the proposal for him join the conspiracy team he easily fell into the trap. Although it is obvious that there were other reasons for planning the conspiracy, Brutus believed that killing Caesar was going to be in service of the state. Perceiving this as a chance to perform good, he didn’t consider to scrutinize the facts presented to find out how legit they were. Full of himself, he chooses to join hands in killing his friend and ‘serve his state.' Unfortunately, it is too late when he realizes that he was manipulated. Desperate to make it right, he attempts to explain to the public appealing to their love of liberty to justify why he participated in killing Caesar.

In conclusion, Shakespeare uses the character ‘Brutus’ warn about how fatal arrogance can be. At the end of the play, we see Brutus, a man of honor, joining hands with Antony in politics for his selfish gains. Earlier in the scenes, Brutus was a nobleman who served justice and righteous, but due to his arrogance, he loses his moral values after killing Caesar, and he appears to be as corrupt and immoral as other politicians. This change is symbolized by Anthony when he asks them to give him their boldly hands as a confirmation of friendship.

Work cited

Rogers, Jami. "Julius Caesar". Shakespeare Bulletin, vol 31, no. 3, 2013, pp. 550-553. Johns Hopkins University Press, doi:10.1353/shb.2013.0046.

July 20, 2022



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