In Julius Caesar what one quality stands out the most in each of the following characters: Brutus, Cassius, and Caesar.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A play with memorable characters, Julius Caesar, nevertheless, poses problems when one attempts to analyse the characters and attribute one salient quality to each.  For, the main characters exhibit dual personas, one in their private lives and one in their public lives.  For instance, Brutus is a sensitive and gentle, cerebral man in his private life, but his public persona is that of the noble idealist; this is why he undergoes such conflict in his soliloquy of Act II. And, Caesar is an attentive husband, but his public life overshadows his consideration for his wife's feelings.

So, for the purpose of this question, consideration will be given to the public personas of the characters under question.

Brutus - Idealism

Brutus joins the conspirators because he feels that Caesar will become tyrannical if made emperor of Rome.  As a

...serpent's egg

Which hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous (2.1.32-33)

Caesar, Brutus believes, must be assassinated for the safety of the republic.  So idealistic is Brutus that he fails to see the deceptiveness of Marc Antony as well as failing to understand the capability of the Roman crowd to be swayed with emotional language.

Cassius - Insecurity

Often characterized by his envy, Cassius's most salient quality is his insecurity which is the cause of envious feelings of Julius Caesar--

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a colossus, and we petty men

Walk under his huge legs and peep about

To find ourselves dishonorable graves. (1.2.141-144)

His motives for convincing Brutus to join the conspiracy are self-serving:  If Caesar is assassinated, Cassius will have a more prominent position in Rome and he will have the power that he has desired in order to elevate himself so that he can no longer be envious of others.

But, Cassius's insecurities still haunt him in the final acts; he worries that Brutus no longer "loves" him and he obeys Brutus although he understands warfare better than he.

Have you not love enough to bear with me

When that rash humor which my mother gave me

Makes me forgetful? (4.3.132-134)

Caesar - Arrogance  

Julius Caesar's excessive pride causes him to fail to listen to the seer who warns him of the Ides of March; furthermore, he discounts the damage that his killing of a former ally, Pompey, can do to him in terms of people considering him a tyrant.  And, even though he notices Cassius as having "a lean and hungry look [that is] dangerous," Caesar declares, "But I fear him not."

In another instance of excessive pride, in Act II, Scene 2, Caesar rejects his first inclination to listen to his wife Calpurnia because he does not wish to be perceived as weak:

How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia!
I am ashamed I did yield to them.
Give me my robe, for I will go. (2.2.109-111)

When his attackers surround him, Caesar is shocked, especially that Brutus is among them.

Sources:

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