Describe the character Brutus in Julius Caesar.

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Marcus Brutus serves as the protagonist of the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. He was a good friend of Caesar’s but a better friend of the Roman citizens. 

Brutus’s character takes all aspects of life seriously; in addition, his character adheres to a strict moral code. As a senator, he is a powerful public figure. 

When Brutus first appears in the play, Cassius sees Brutus outside of the arena and decides to try to convince Brutus to become a part of the plot to assassinate Caesar. 

As leader of the conspiracy, Cassius knows that Brutus will be an influential member.  The people love him and the senators respect him. It is doubtful that without Brutus the conspiracy would have taken place.

Brutus listens to everything that Cassius has to say about his loathing of Caesar and his attempts to flatter Brutus.  Flattery does not work with Brutus.  He will make his decision based on logic and reason and only after much cogitation and sleepless nights. 

The next time that Brutus is seen in the play. He has made his decision.  Caesar must die for the good of Rome.  He gives three analogies to explain his decision. 


  • If a serpent is seen in the daylight, it is best to avoid him or he will sting a person.  Caesar is the same.  If he is crowned, then this may give him too much power, and he will turn on the Roman citizens.


  • The ladder of success is a difficult climb alone. People beneath the climber must support him.  When he gets to the top of the ladder, the person may forget those who helped him along the way.  This is what Caesar might do.


  • A serpent in the egg is harmless.  If it is allowed to hatch, then it can bite a person.  It is better to kill the snake in its egg before it hatches to avoid the risk. The same is true of Caesar.  Kill him before he can do anything.  Do not risk the possibility of him turning against the people.

Brutus bases his decision on the potential harm that Caesar could do to Rome.  It is not what he has done, but what he might do which worries Brutus.

Typical of Brutus’s style, his oration to the people does not contain strong emotions.  It is based on logic and reasoning.  It follows a cause and effect organization:

 If  that
friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.  As Caesar                                                                                       loved  me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him.

Initially, the people are won over to Brutus’s reasoning.  It is not until the more flamboyant and emotionally charged Antony’s oration is given, the people turn into a mob wanting the deaths of all the conspirators. 

At the battle of Philippi, both Cassius and Brutus are defeated by Antony and Octavius’s armies. Cassius kills himself by having one of his servants run him through with a sword.  No one wants to kill Brutus; so he has another soldier hold the sword while he runs on it himself. 

When Antony finds the body of Brutus, he realizes that this was a man who stood up for what he believed and took action.  He was the only one who actually thought that he was helping Rome by killing Caesar.  Antony gives the greatest compliment one man can give another: “This was a man. “

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How does Shakespeare characterize Brutus in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar?

Shakespeare develops Brutus as a tragic hero. He is a good man whose fatal character flaw brings about his own destruction. The flaw in Brutus's character is that he is the complete idealist. He is often unaware of the realities of political life in Rome and of the other characters' less than honorable motives.

Brutus joins the conspiracy because he believes Caesar is a danger to freedom in Rome; he views Caesar as a potential tyrant. He is encouraged in this belief by Cassius, who plays upon Brutus's innate sense of loyalty to Rome and her democratic traditions.

Another basic characteristic of Brutus is that he is trusting to the point of being naive. He trusts Cassius, who tricks him into joining the conspiracy for Cassius's own purposes. Brutus trusts that all the other conspirators are as honorable as he. When Antony asks to speak at Caesar's funeral, Brutus trusts that Antony will abide by their agreement that Antony will say or do nothing to incite the crowd against the conspirators.

Brutus is above all an honorable man. He remains faithful to his principles even though in doing so he commits a terrible act in murdering Caesar, his friend. Ultimately, Brutus chooses to die with honor rather than be captured on the field of battle. He takes his own life by running on the sword used to assassinate Julius Caesar.

Shakespeare's final assessment of Brutus is expressed in the words of Antony at the play's conclusion: "This was the noblest Roman of them all."

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How does Brutus' character develop in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

Brutus is reluctant at first to conspire against Julius Caesar and would not have gotten involved if Cassius hadn't made such a strong effort to involve him. Cassius was well aware that he was not personally liked or respected himself. He wanted Brutus to look like the leader, although he did not really want him to lead. He thought he could be the actual leader himself and manipulate Brutus. But once Brutus had committed himself to the conspiracy, all the other conspirators looked to him as the de facto leader of their plot, and there was little that Cassius could do to assert his own authority even though he was the one who had conceived and initiated the conspiracy in the first place.

Cassius was a realist. Brutus was an idealist, a philosopher, an introvert, a deep thinker. He is often shown alone, whereas Cassius is invariably in the company of others. Cassius is bound to regard Brutus as an impractical dreamer, while Brutus is bound to regard Cassius as a schemer and a petty opportunist. The main change that takes place in Brutus's character is that he becomes more and more stubborn about having his own way. He doesn't listen to Cassius--but he probably doesn't listen to anybody else either. It begins to look as if the conspiracy would only be getting rid of one autocrat for another. Caesar might have made a better king than Brutus because Caesar was more realistic and practical. Brutus seemed to think that everybody was an idealist and patriot like himself. He didn't understand that most men were more like Cassius than they were like Brutus. Most men are greedy and selfish. Brutus was idealistic and honorable. This was probably because of all the serious literature he had been reading all his life. He was bookish and scholarly. Hamlet is a similar type of character.

Cassius ends up in a subordinate position. He cannot do without Brutus, but he knows that Brutus can get along very well without him because everyone naturally looks to him as the political and military leader. These two men were probably not that different in reality, but Shakespeare took pains to make them conspicuously different because he did not want them to seem like twins. Brutus can best be understood by contrasting him with Cassius, just as Cassius can best be understood by contrasting him with Brutus.

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How does Brutus' character develop in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

Brutus develops from being a cautious, over-idealistic man to one who starts taking a bit more risks as he attempts to cope with the disastrous after-effects of the killing of Caesar. Early in the play we see the philosophical, analytical side to his nature as he agonises at length with himself over whether he should join the conspiracy against Caesar or not. However, in the latter stages, when forced to join battle with Antonyand Octavius after the assassination, he starts to become a bit more reckless – certainly by his own former standards. This is seen most clearly when Cassius counsels staying where they are rather than advancing to attack the enemy at Philippi. Brutus at this point throws all caution to the winds, insisting that they be proactive rather than wait tamely for battle:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

 (IV.iii. 218-221)

 Brutus here is saying to seize the moment, to act, to plunge into the current rather than hang back out of fear and later regret losing their chance. He therefore appears quite different from the hesitant man of the play’s opening scenes.

There is more than a hint of desperation in Brutus at this point too, however. We have seen Caesar’s ghost previously telling him that they will meet again at Philippi; it may be that really he is resigned to his fate and just wants to bring on the moment of his death as quickly as possible and get it over with.

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