Explain how Brutus and Cassius act as character foils in their responses to Antony in Act III, Scene 1 of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is in Act III, Scene 1 that the differences of personality between Brutus and Cassius are furthered developed.  After the assassination of Caesar, Antony tells the conspirators that he is ready to be "cut off," but Brutus replies graciously,

O Antony, beg not your death of us!....

Our arms in strength of malice, and out hearts'Of brothers' temper, do receive you

With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.

These words of Brutus also illustrate his noble nature that is trusting and often does not perceive what is pratical, unlike Cassius, who is immediately suspicious of Antony:

I blame you not for praising Caesar so;

But what compact mean you to have with us?

Clearly, the difference between Brutus and Cassius is that of the idealist and the pragmatist.  For, whether Antony's intentions are good or not, Cassius knows that to be certain of him is impossible, and the most practical thing to do is to kill Antony.  Pulling Brutus aside, he mentions the influence upon the crowd that Antony could easily have.  Here again, the idealistic Brutus demurs, saying "It shall advantage more than do us wrong," whereas Brutus replies, "I know not what may fail; I like it not." 

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