In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, what consequences do you think Brutus faced based on the choices he made?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar employs Brutus as the protagonist for the play. It is Brutus's decisions that propel the play forward. Brutus is a popular senator, and the people of Rome trust him.  In addition, he was a friend of Caesar.

After many sleepless nights, Brutus decides that Rome will suffer if it has a dictator and emperor.  He fears Caesar's lust for power and his ambition; therefore, he associates himself with the conspirators thinking that they have the same feelings.

Because of his decision to join the assassination, Brutus loses everything that mattered to him. He fails to follow the experience of Cassius and listen to his recommendations.  Every choice that Brutus makes against the advice of Cassius moves the conspirators toward their deaths.

What were these resolves made by Brutus?

He made his decision to join the conspiracy knowing that he had never seen Caesar do anything but good for the Roman people.

His judgments are made on the possibility that Caesar might change not on actual facts. He kills Caesar for what might occur.

  • He chose to allow Marc Antony to live and to speak at the funeral. 
  • He left the Capitol during Antony's speech.
  • Portia begs Brutus to share his thinking about the plan; he tells her that he will, but he never does.
  • His beloved wife commits suicide because she believes that Brutus is dead.
  • Even though Cassius is a more seasoned soldier, Brutus overrides Cassius in moving the army to fight at Philippi. 
  • When the ghost of Caesar appears, Brutus ignores the warnings of the evil spirit.

Brutus loses everything that was important to him including his own life.  Sadly, he was the only one of the assassins that actually killed Caesar for the good of Rome.  Cassius, the instigator of the plot, hated Caesar for personal reasons.

Marc Antony bestows a great compliment on Brutus when he finds his body:  

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 him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world: "This was a man!"

Brutus and his inconsistent behavior and actions lead to his death.  When he knows that he will be captured by Antony, Brutus  does not ask anyone to kill him. This was his responsibility.  He asks one of his soldiers to hold the sword so that he might kill himself.  Sadly, this was a life that could have served Rome, but he made the wrong decision.




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Julius Caesar

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