What is Brutus's major internal conflict in Julius Caesar? What is an internal conflict?  

Brutus's major internal conflict concerns his decision between whether or not to join the conspirators and assassinate Julius Caesar. An internal conflict is a personal struggle within a character in which they debate with themselves and weigh difficult decisions.

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An internal conflict is a personal struggle within a character in which they have difficulty deciding how to act or behave as they debate with themselves. Characters experiencing internal struggles have difficulty weighing decisions while simultaneously appeasing their conscience. In Shakespeare's classic play Julius Caesar, Brutus's primary internal struggle is his decision to join the conspirators and participate in Julius Caesar's assassination. At the beginning of the play, Cassius approaches Brutus and cleverly presents Caesar as a popular, ambitious politician, whose goal is to disband the Senate and rule Rome as a dictator. Cassius recognizes Brutus's need to be noble and convinces him that Caesar is a significant threat to the population of Rome.

Following his interaction with Cassius, Brutus weighs his decision regarding whether or not to join the conspirators to assassinate Caesar. Unlike the other senators, Brutus is genuinely concerned with preserving the Republic and protecting the vulnerable citizens of Rome. He is not selfishly motivated and must make the difficult decision to let Caesar live or take his life. Brutus reveals his internal conflict during his soliloquy in act 2, scene 1, when he admits that he has "no personal cause to spurn at [Caesar]" and has "not known when his affections swayed / More than his reason."

However, Brutus recognizes that ambition can have a negative influence on powerful politicians and fears that Caesar will take advantage once he is given the opportunity. Brutus then likens Caesar to a "serpent's egg" which will "grow mischievous" when hatched. Following his soliloquy, Brutus decides to join the conspirators and participate in Caesar's assassination, which dramatically changes the political landscape of Rome by creating a significant power vacuum leading to a civil war.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 27, 2020
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Brutus’s internal conflict is the decision to kill Julius Caesar.

An internal conflict is a conflict a character has with his or her self.  It is a decision, a worry, or a fear.  Internal conflicts are very important because they demonstrate a character’s state of mind and his moral characteristics.

Brutus has to first decide whether or not he wants to join the conspiracy.  He is well aware that the movement needs him to lend legitimacy to it.  Brutus is a true believer.  He wants to do what is best for Rome. However, Julius Caesar is literally like a father to him.  He is a friend and a mentor.  Even though they are on opposite sides of the political fence, deciding to kill him is a major crisis of conscience.

Although Cassius’s conversation with Brutus is the first time when Brutus struggles with this idea, the internal conflict is verbalized by Shakespeare in a powerful soliloquy.  Before the other conspirators arrive, Brutus has to talk himself into believing that killing Caesar is really the only way.

Brutus is explaining to the audience why Caesar has to die, or at least why the conspirators think that he does.  For his character, he is also convincing himself.

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 his nature, there's the question.
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder … (Act 2, Scene 1)

The argument that Brutus is making is that Caesar has not done anything yet that deserves death, but that if he gains more power he will become dangerous.  The conspirators are worried that Caesar will be crowned king of Rome, and anathema to all Romans.  They will not tolerate any king.  They fear though that Caesar has too much power already.  He can easily take more.  Caesar will be king, if they do not stop him. 

Brutus compares him to a baby snake still in the shell.  If the snake is never born, it is not dangerous.  That is Caesar now.  However, as soon as the snake comes out of its shell it is a menace to all.  That would be Caesar if he gained more power and became king.

And, since the quarrel
Will bear no colour for the thing he is,
Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities:
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell. (Act 2, Scene 1)

Brutus argues that Caesar is too ambitious to be left alive.  He will not be content with just being dictator of Rome.  It was a temporary title, and Caesar kept extending it.  The senate was afraid that this would turn into more power.

The decision to kill Caesar would not have been an easy one for Brutus.  Brutus was not a murderer; he was an idealist.  Brutus is insistent that only Caesar be killed, telling the others that they are not murderers.  Decisions like that are the ones that should have been internal conflicts for Brutus, but they really were not. Brutus put a lot of thought into killing Caesar, but the decision not to kill Antony was not a struggle for him.  Caesar alone would die, that was how Brutus wanted it.

Throughout the play, Brutus's confidence in his decisions is his downfall.  He makes all the determinations himself, without consulting anyone.  This results in major errors of judgement.  Brutus lets Antony live, and underestimates him again when he lets him speak at Caesar's funeral.  He makes grievous errors throughout the military campaign, and they eventually lose.  Brutus does not ask others' advice, or does not take it when it is offered.

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