How does Portia and Brutus' relationship differ from that of Calpurnia and Caesar in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Portia and Brutus' relationship differs from that of Calpurnia and Caesar because Portia and Brutus base their marriage on mutual respect and honesty. Brutus heeds the advice of his wife, while Caesar does not. 

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In Shakespeare's classic play Julius Caesar , Brutus and Portia's relationship significantly differs from Caesar and Calphurnia's marriage, which are depicted in the first two scenes of act two. In act two, scene one, the conspiring senators arrive at Brutus's home, and he agrees to join their cause against Julius...

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In Shakespeare's classic play Julius Caesar, Brutus and Portia's relationship significantly differs from Caesar and Calphurnia's marriage, which are depicted in the first two scenes of act two. In act two, scene one, the conspiring senators arrive at Brutus's home, and he agrees to join their cause against Julius Caesar. Shortly after the senators leave, Brutus's wife, Portia, enters the scene and comments on his strange behavior. Portia then petitions Brutus to confide in her and elaborate on what has been weighing on his mind. When Brutus attempts to avoid her questions, Portia displays her resolute, fearless personality by demanding that Brutus honor their marriage and tell her everything he has been thinking. Portia demonstrates her confidence and outspoken nature by telling Brutus,

"If this were true, then should I know this secret. I grant I am a woman, but withal A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife. I grant I am a woman, but withal A woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter" (Shakespeare, 2.1.300-304).

Portia then vows to keep her husband's secret and demonstrates her loyalty by stabbing herself in the thigh without flinching. Brutus is moved by Portia's words and actions and agrees to explain everything he has been planning regarding Caesar’s assassination. Unfortunately, Brutus never has the chance to reveal his plans to Portia after Ligarius arrives. Brutus and Portia's relationship is founded on equality. They are both sincere and honest with each other, and Portia is not afraid to speak her mind. Brutus does not wield all the authority in their marriage and respects his wife's opinion. Portia also feels comfortable addressing her husband and has the power to sway his decisions.

Unlike Brutus and Portia's open relationship, Julius Caesar and Calphurnia's marriage is not founded on equality and Caesar possesses all the authority because he is the man, which is typical of most Roman marriages at the time. In act two, scene two, Calphurnia begs Caesar not to go to the Senate and elaborates on the recent omens as well as her ominous dream. Initially, Caesar dismisses her concerns and is determined to leave their home. Unlike Brutus, who seriously considers his wife's opinion, Caesar is remarkably self-assured and tells Calphurnia,

"Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once" (Shakespeare, 2.2.32-34).

After Caesar learns about the priests' prophecies, he begins to reconsider, but is easily swayed by Decius's interpretation of Calphurnia's dream and travels to the Senate. Calphurnia plays a more subservient role in her marriage than Portia, and Caesar does not treat her as his equal. Unlike Brutus, Caesar is not swayed by his wife's arguments and makes his own decisions.

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The difference can mainly be seen in Act II, scene i (Brutus and Portia) and Act II, scene ii (Caesar and Calpurnia).

Portia talks to Brutus as though she were his equal, which was uncommon at the time. Wives were barely more than property and were to obey their husbands. However, Portia calls Brutus on his behavior: he's been moody, unresponsive and is now unable to sleep and walking amid the rain in their orchard in the middle of the night. When he orders her to go to bed, and tells her he is simply ill, she refuses and tells him that he's too smart to be outside in the rain if he is ill. Portia then tries to convince Brutus to tell her what's on his mind, using guilt and trying to prove how mentally and physically strong she is. She also insists that he took her as a partner, so by the right of her position, she should know what's on his mind. We can tell by Act 2, scene iv that he does tell her.

In contrast, Caesar and Calpurnia's relationship is more typical of Roman marriages. While Caesar listens to his wife's concerns about not going out of the house that day, he ultimately makes the decision to leave the house, calling her dreams and warnings foolish. He is in charge of the relationship. In Act 1, scene i, Calpurnia's only line is "Here, my lord", showing her obedience to him.

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