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In Julius Caesar, Act IV, according to Brutus, what were the reasons for Portia's death...

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rogerthaalien | eNoter

Posted May 20, 2011 at 3:09 AM via web

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In Julius Caesar, Act IV, according to Brutus, what were the reasons for Portia's death and how does he respond to her death?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 20, 2011 at 3:48 AM (Answer #1)

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This event occurs in Act IV scene 3 of this great tragedy. Brutus gives a typical stoical response, in contrast to Cassius, when he tells him that he has received news of his wife's death. According to him, Portia killed herself because she was missing Brutus so much and also she had heard news that the opposition against him was now so strong, she became distraught and "swallowed fire" when her servants were not at home. According to Plutarch, she killed herself by putting hot coals in her mouth.

However, what is interesting is the way that Brutus chooses to supress all emotion and carry on with the job at hand. Note what he says:

Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine.

In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius.

In a short sentence he dismisses her as if she never existed and goes on to make peace between himself and Cassius. This of course is questionable, but a lot depends on the individual director as to how they would stage this scene. Some would have Brutus showing some form of emotion, at least in private, or perhaps barely being able to master himself. It depends a lot on how sympathetic you want the audience to feel for Brutus at this stage of the play.

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