In Julius Caesar, what does Brutus’s relationship with Portia and Caesar’s relationship with Calpurnia reveal each man’s character?

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In act 1, scene 2, Caesar’s first words, in front of a large assembly of people which includes both Brutus and Portia, are to order Calpurnia to stand “directly in Antonius’s way.” He then commands Antony:

Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

Caesar treats both his wife and his friend as servants bound to do his bidding. He subordinates all other concerns, including Calpurnia’s feelings and her modesty, to his superstitious ideas about a cure for her barrenness. His only other interaction with her, in act 2, scene 2, is equally concerned with superstition. Here, Caesar shows his indecisiveness, changing his mind several times about whether he will go out to the Senate and whether he will give a reason if not. Even when vacillating, however, he maintains his distance from Calpurnia, addressing her in a public meeting.

Brutus’s relationship with Portia, as we see it in the preceding scene, is altogether different. Portia treats Brutus with respect but also as an equal partner in their marriage. She loves him enough to argue with him when she thinks he is wrong, particularly when she believes he may be harming himself. As soon as he reproaches her for coming outside in “the raw cold morning,” risking her health, Portia retorts that he is doing exactly the same. When he wants to keep his troubles to himself, she insists on knowing them:

Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But, as it were, in sort or limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife.

One can only imagine the cold fury of a Caesar thus assailed, but Brutus appreciates Portia’s concern, calling upon the gods to render him worthy of such a noble wife and promising the following:

And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.

Caesar is a colder, more distant, and more aloof figure even than Brutus (who has more than his share of these stereotypically Roman qualities). Brutus’s close relationship with his wife and his willingness to confide in her show that he is less egotistical and more trusting than Caesar.

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