What does Act II of "Julius Caesar" reveal about Portia?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Portia demonstrates love and respect for her husband, Brutus in Act II. She enters soon after the other conspirators leave. She sincerely worries about Brutus and confronts him with regard to his recent behavior. Portia tries to find out the reason behind her husband’s angry and pensive mood, but Brutus waves her away. However, she insists on understanding her husband’s condition and continues prodding. Brutus downplays her questions and states that he is just feeling unwell.

Brutus is wise, and, if he were not in good health,
He would do something about it.

Portia displays a deep understanding of her husband, and she is convinced that something else troubles her husband. She knows that it is something to do with his state of mind and that the issue is connected to the visitors. She also attests to her ability to handle whatever situation that worries her husband, but Brutus is saved by the sound of footsteps and avoids divulging details of the plot.

lit24 | Student

Through this scene Shakespeare reveals the pressures and the nervous tension and anxiety in the maritial relationship of Brutus and Portia.

Brutus has spent a restless and sleepless night and convinced himself that it is best to murder Caesar for the common good of Rome. He has discussed with the other conspirators all the finer details of the assasination that has to be carried out the next day. Brutus' final word of advice to the conspirators is: "Good gentlemen look fresh and merrily/Let not our looks put on our purposes." 

Portia enters immediately after the conspirators had left. It goes without saying that Brutus cannot reveal to his dear wife  why he has not slept the whole night and who the  late night visitors were and what he discussed with them, even though she pleads with him on bended knee. Brutus offers evasive replies, and fortunately for him Ligarius, whom he had sent for, is heard knocking at his door. Brutus hurrriedly asks Portia to leave saying that he will reveal everything to her later, "and by and by thy bosom shall partake/The secrets of my heart...Leave me with haste." And she being the obedient wife does so.

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Julius Caesar

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