In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, how would you evaluate Brutus?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The protagonist in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is arguably Marcus Brutus.  Caesar dies in the Act III and Marc Antony does not really become important to the play until after the death of Caesar.  Brutus becomes the key player because of his importance to them entire action of the tragedy.

The Roman citizens supported Brutus and the other senators admired him.  He came from a well-known family and his father had also been an important senator. That is why it is important to the conspiracy that Brutus becomes a part of the plot.

Cassius gives Brutus his reasons for wanting to rid Rome of Caesar. Brutus agrees to think about what Cassius has told him; then, Brutus would meet with him later at his house.  From the discourse, the audience learns that Brutus has already been disturbed by the course of events concerning Caesar’s obvious lust for power.

Brutus is a stoic.  He contains his emotions.  Basing his decisions on logic and reasoning, he spends the next month arguing with himself about whether to involve himself with this murder. Often, Brutus has not slept at night disturbed by the possibility of killing his friend who really has not done anything to hurt the republic. Finally, he decides that Caesar must die because of the possibility of him misusing his power.

When Brutus joins the conspiracy, he immediately begins to make decisions and override the suggestions that Cassius makes.  Unfortunately, most of the time, Cassius is right and Brutus is wrong.

Mistakes by Brutus

  • Does not make the conspirators vow to keep the plot secret
  • Allows Antony to live
  • Lets Antony speak at the funeral after Brutus
  • Leaves the Capital while Antony speaks
  • Marches the army to Philippi instead of letting Antony’s army come to them

Brutus was the only conspirator who really joined the assassination plot for the good of Rome and its citizens. Even Antony realizes the worth of Brutus when he finds his body and tells Octavius that this “was the noblest Roman of them all.”

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man!

In the last speech of the play, the arrogant Octavius honors Brutus by allowing his body to rest in his tent before his burial.  Brutus was a strong man who was loved by his companions and admired by his enemies.

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Julius Caesar

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