What essential themes does Brutus portray and/or struggle with? What does Shakespeare want the reader to feel or believe through Brutus?

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Much of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar has to do with the manipulation of language.  There are several passages where the various main characters attempt to sway their listening audience.  Brutus is an honorable man, and does what he believes to be in the best interests of Rome and the Republic. When he speaks to the crowd after the murder of Caesar, he honestly states his case, and leaves believing he has the support of the public. However, Marc Antony repeats the phrase "honorable man" several times in his funeral oration, making the point to the public that Brutus and conspirators have, by murdering his friend, acted dishonorably.  He further manipulates the crowd and incites them to go against Brutus and the conspirators. Antony's commentary on Brutus at the end must be taken with a huge grain of salt -- is he being sincere in his evaluation of Brutus, or is he saying the politically expedient thing that will consolidate his power?

imrul23 | Student

Brutus is one of Shakespeare's most complex creations.In Julius Caesar,according to me,Brutus struggles not with his honour but rather,with his thirst to emulate Caesar.Brutus loves Caesar's power,his influence and dreams of emulating the ruler.For Brutus,being the second best is just not good enough.When one says Brutus struggles with his honor,he/she should really think very carefully.Brutus was not the most honorable Roman; whatever Anthony said.Remember Anthony was alive because of Brutus.Was he not just remembering a lucky escape? If Brutus was honorable why did he kill Caesar?Even if he believed Caesar was dangerous,how could he,as his closest confidant,betray him in the worst possible way?

Here is a copy-paste from an answer below: '...however, Marc Antony repeats the phrase "honorable man" several times in his funeral oration, making the point to the public that Brutus and conspirators have, by murdering his friend, acted dishonorably. '

Herein is proof of Anthony's swinging nature.When his fellow associates change their minds over him every few scenes,how can we label him an 'honorable man?' It is a disgrace,a mislabel.Brutus ruins the very essence of loyalty and through a barrage of mistakes,paves the way for his own downfall.

It is therefore not honesty and honor that is Brutus's main struggle...it is the lack of it.

mszachery | Student


Brutus struggles with his honor.  His whole identity is encapsulated with him begin an honorable Roman.  When he is approached by Cassius and the other conspirators (to kill Caesar), they play on his thought as being an honorable Roman.  See act one scene 2 where Cassius discusses this honor. “Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet I see thy honorable mettle may be wrought from that it is disposed.” In Act 2 Brutus contemplates the crucial decision to save Rome in the name of honor from an awful tyrant named Caesar along with the other conspirators. 

After the killing Marc Antony refers to Brutus as a noble, honorable roman, because he did what he did because if what he believed in.  He truly believed that Caesar would have become a tyrant so to save Rome from the travesty he decided to help kill Caesar.

At the end of the play (Act 5 final scene lines 68-81) Marc Antony again refers to Brutus as “the noblest Roman of them all…He, only in a general honest thought and common good to all, made one of them…his life was gentle…This was a man!”


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Julius Caesar

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