In Act I, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, what are the two most important conflicts that will carry on throughout the play?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene ii, continues the exposition begun in Scene i, and begins the rising action of the plot of the drama.  The most important characters are introduced in this scene.  In the plot development, the assassination conspiracy is introduced by its leader Cassius. 

When Cassius asserts his feelings toward Caesar, Brutus listens carefully.  He has been at war within his mind about Caesar’s lust for power.  Cassius and Brutus both see problems with Caesar becoming the emperor of Rome.  However, the first conflict in the play arises from the difference in reasons for joining the conspiracy.

Cassius dislikes Caesar personally.  He finds Caesar lacking in skills, weak, and womanish.  He also knows that Caesar suffers from the “falling sickness” which reinforces the idea that he is weak.  Cassius believes that he was born the same as Caesar.  His name is just as good as Caesar’s.  Why then should Romans have to bow down to one no better than Brutus or himself?

Brutus does not give much information about his feelings in this scene. He, however, does make it known that he is troubled by Caesar’s usurping government rule. When Antony offers the crown to Caesar, Brutus tells Cassius that he fears that Caesar will take the crown. In addition, Brutus tells Cassius that he does not know for sure what path that Cassius wants him to pursue.  If it is in the interest of Rome, Brutus is willing to listen to this serious subject.


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.  

Brutus loves Caesar as a friend and for the most part for his leadership.  Yet, Brutus wants to maintain the republican type of government which does not include having a dictator or emperor. 

This is the beginning of the conflict between Cassius and Brutus concerning the reasons for assassinating Caesar which continues until the Act IV.

Another conflict comes to the forefront.  Cassius makes plans to maneuver Brutus.  He decides to write letters and notes as though they come from the citizens of Rome declaring their unhappiness with Caesar and complimenting Brutus.  He will throw these notes into his house


I will this night,

In several hands, in at his windows throw,

As if they came from several citizens, I will this night, 
In several hands, in at his windows throw, 
Writings, all tending to the great opinion

That Rome holds of his name…

This manipulation continues throughout the play.  Brutus eventually stands up to Cassius and exhibits his stronghold over the conspirators and armies after the assassination.   This conflict does not speak well for the character of Cassius who is willing to get his way by any means necessary. Cassius’s dishonesty will raise its evil head again in Act IV.

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Julius Caesar

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