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Discuss the following in regards to Julius Caesar: "The man of principle is...

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oumaimah | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 29, 2008 at 2:32 AM via web

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Discuss the following in regards to Julius Caesar: "The man of principle is almost a man of failure."

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sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 29, 2008 at 3:40 AM (Answer #1)

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The chief example of this in the play Julius Caesar is the character of Brutus. Brtutus is portrayed as a person who is obsessed with principle, to the point that he will turn on and murder his old friend Caesar to uphold the principle of republican rule over Rome. However, his devotion to principle leaves him helplessly open to manipulation and naive about the motivations of others. He never suspects, for instance, that the "popular demand" for him to take action has been largely faked by Cassius and the other conspirators (Act I, scene 2; Act II, scene 1). He believes in his intellectual innocence that his bloodless speech at Caesar's funeral will permanantly win over the ordinary masses to his cause (Act III, scene 2). Last, and worst, he not only demands Mark Antony be allowed to live (Act II, scene 1) but takes Antony at his word and allows him to speak at Caesar's funeral, even urging the masses to listen to him carefully (Act III, scenes 1 and 2). This decision, motivated by fairness and the desire to show the assassination was just and free from personal spite, means that Antony can raise the people of Rome against Brutus and the other conspirators and so begin the process that leads to their defeat and destruction.

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