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What does Brutus say to show the internal conflict between his desire to honor his...

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inuyasha123 | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted February 4, 2010 at 9:41 AM via web

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What does Brutus say to show the internal conflict between his desire to honor his friendship and his desire to do what is best for Rome?

This conflict revolves around Brutus's feelings towards Caesar. Brutus fears that Caesar may grow too powerful, but this fear conflicts with his personal love for Caesar. How is this represented in the text?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted April 7, 2010 at 7:15 AM (Answer #1)

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Act I, scene ii of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is where Brutus speaks of his love for Caesar. Act 2, scene i is where Brutus thinks out loud about the reasons to assassinate Caesar.

In 1.2 Cassius and Brutus are discussing Brutus's fear that the crowd might crown Caesar king. Cassius has been disparaging Caesar with unfriendly reminiscences when the crowd at the athletic games roars. Brutus and Cassius discuss Brutus's fear of Caesar being crowned, which would be a source of great sorrow because Rome is a Republic, with all citizens equal, and not a monarchy, which then implied some relation to divinity for the monarch, an idea in opposition to a Republic. Brutus says:

"I would not [want to see him king], Cassius; yet I love him well....
What is it that you would impart to me?
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honour in one eye and death i' the other,
And I will look on both indifferently,..."

Brutus ends by expressing his sentiment about Rome if it should come to pass that the people crown Caesar king and the Republic becomes a monarchy:

Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this:
"Brutus had rather be a villager    
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Under these hard conditions as this time
Is like to lay upon us."

Of course, the tragedy is that Cassius is betraying Brutus's love for him by "seducing" him to a plan that is for Cassius's benefit and is spurred by resentment:

"For who [Brutus] so firm that cannot be seduced?
Caesar doth bear me hard;...
He [will] not humour me."

Brutus, in his garden, in Act 2, scene i, after a meeting with Cassius that Shakespeare does not make the audience part of, asks himself whether being crowned might or might not change Caesar's character, saying that it is the sunny day that brings out the most lethal of snakes, the adder:

"How that might change his nature, there's the question.
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;"

Brutus's whole argument with himself, though, as he says, he has no personal feelings against Caesar, is that monarchical power might corrupt Caesar, might make him turn his back on the citizens who gave him power. He says that he has never known Caesar to be more swayed by his emotions (i.e., ambition, craving for power, etc) than by his reason. He reasons that nonetheless, if the he can think it could happen, then the opening for the realization of thought must be eliminated. Brutus's tragic error is that he argues from groundless possibilities and not from facts.

It is after Brutus has made his decision and after Caesar is dead that Brutus's speech in Act III, scene ii to the multitude of Romans says the most about how Brutus loved Caesar:
If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of
"Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar
was no less than his...
As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;..."

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