Using examples from the play, discuss how Brutus is the most honorable character in the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar employs Marcus Brutus as the protagonist of the play. The drama circles around the character of Brutus.  Despite the name of the play, the action and movement of the play belong to Brutus.  Although he makes many poor decisions, Brutus tries to put the good of Rome at the center of his decisions.

Is Brutus an honorable man? If the word honor is used to describe someone, the person would have these qualities: integrity, decency, morality, and rectitude.  Brutus seemed to have all of these character traits.  

In Act 1, Scene ii, Brutus tells Cassius that he is at war with himself.  He promises Cassius that he will consider what he told him about Caesar and meet with him to give him his decision. Cassius describes Brutus as an honorable man in this scene.  Brutus also says that honor is the most important principle that a man can hold:

If it be aught toward the general good,

Set honor in one eye and death I’ the other

And I will look on both indifferently.

…as I Love

The name of honor more than I fear death.

If Brutus had to choose between  death or a life without honor, he would select death.

Act II, Scene i

In this scene, Brutus makes the final decision to join the conspiracy.  He bases his decision on what is best for Rome and its citizens.  His reasons are not necessarily the  most supportable ones, but he is honest in his attempt to make the best decision not for his own personal reasons but for the general good.

It must be by his death, and, for my part,

I know no personal cause to spurn at him,

But for the general. He would be crown’d:

How that might change him? That’s the question.

Brutus purports that his decision is not personal but is based on what is best for Rome.

Act III, Scene 2

There's a reason Antony calls Brutus the "noblest Roman" (meaning most honorable): he follows his , risks his life for Rome, and does not seem to be concerned with personal gain. 

When Brutus speaks to the people after Caesar’s death, he attests that he honored Caesar for his bravery in battle. Brutus, also,  asks the people to respect him and trust him because he is an honorable man.  This is an important virtue which Brutus applies to both himself and Caesar.

Act V,  Scene 3

This was the noblest Roman of them all.

All of the conspirators, save only he,

Did that they did in envy of great Caesar.

After Brutus kills himself, Marc Antony and Octavius find his body. Antony gives a wonderful compliment to Brutus.  He tells Octavius that Brutus was the only member of the assassins who participated for the right reasons.  Brutus felt that Caesar would not be good for Rome.  Antony remarks that Brutus was a gentle and honest man.  Finally, Antony states that Brutus had all the qualities that make him a great man.