How does Julius Caesar prove that the use of violence to overthrow an oppressor was not only unwise but also doomed to fail?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar the conspirators' plans to preserve the Roman Republic are a complete failure and result in Octavius's absolute rule. Initially, the conspirators planned on assassinating Julius Caesar for selfish purposes and intended to climb the political ladder following his death. Certain senators, like Cassius, prove to be corrupt and have ulterior motives for assassinating Caesar. Following Caesar's death, Cassius sells political offices and accepts bribes. Out of all the senators, Brutus is the only conspirator with honorable intentions. He genuinely views Caesar as a threat to the Republic and is concerned about the population becoming victims of tyranny. Ironically, Caesar's death leads to the inception of the Second Triumvirate and causes more chaos and bloodshed throughout the empire. Following Caesar's assassination, Brutus makes the terrible decision to allow Mark Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral and Antony proceeds to incite a riot as he argues against the conspirators. Mark Antony then joins Octavius and Lepidus and the three powerful men defeat Cassius and Brutus in the final battle. Overall, the conspirators' violent plans are futile and lead to a civil war, which results in Octavius's absolute rule.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The plot to kill Julius Caesar completely failed in its intended mission to restore the republic, and "Caesars" continued to rule for centuries. Violent upheaval is not always unwise: in many civilizations in which a ruler is becoming too powerful to rule with justice and wisdom, some citizens may feel that it is the only way. In Shakespeare's play, we read that Cassius is somewhat jealous of Caesar's power. Brutus, on the other hand, has misgivings about the idea of a sovereign ruler altogether.

Whatever the motivation for these assassins, the plan was set to fail, and the conspirators were doomed from the start because of one large oversight in the manner that the assassination was carried out. Most importantly, it would have been wise, if cruel, to kill Mark Antony as well as Caesar. Due to the fact that the conspirators did not want to come across as wanton murderers, however, they chose to spare his life. This marked a clear underestimation of Antony, made even more glaring by the fact that Brutus let him speak at Caesar's funeral.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team