Does Brutus ever have a chance to tell Portia about the assassination plot in Julius Caesar.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Portia, Brutus's wife in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar appears in the latter part of the first scene of Act II.  After awakening, she becomes aware that Brutus has "stole" from her bed.  Remembering how he suddenly arouse at supper and walkied around with his arms folded as he sighed, Portia wonders what it is that troubles Brutus.  As revealed earlier in this scene, Brutus has wrestled with his conscience about the act which he contemplates.  For, while Caesar has not yet displayed any truly tyrannical behaviors, Brutus feels that he is like

...a serpent's egg,

Which hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous (2.1.30

Brutus concludes after listening to Cassius and the others and reading the forged letters that because Caesar may become corrupted by power, he must be prevented from possessing this power. However, when Portia asks her husband why he has acted as he has, and begs him, "Make me acquainted with your cause of grief" (2.1.267), Brutus merely tells her, "I am not well in health, and that is all" (2.1.268)   Of course, Portia does not believe him, saying that he would not come out into the night air if he were ill:

You have some sick offense within your mind,

Which by the right and virtue of my place

I ought to know of; and upon my knees

I charm you, by my once commended beauty,

By all your vows of love, and that great vow...

That you unfold to me, your self, your half,

Why you are heavy, and what men tonight

Have had resort to you....(2.1.285-291)

Portia even cuts her leg to prove that she is strong and can keep her husband's secrets.  But, just as Brutus is about to reveal to her his motives, Luciius and Caius Ligarius knock.  So, he tells Portia to go in and

...by and by thy bosom shall partake

The secrets of my heart. (2.1.318-319)

After the men arrive, Brutus accompanies them out, and then the events of the assassination occur, dire events that result in a civil war. Brutus has lost the opportunity to reveal to Portia his intentions before the fateful day that Caesar goes to the folum.

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