In Julius Caesar, what are the similarities and differences between Brutus and Caesar? Who is the protagonist?

Expert Answers
robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus, like Caesar, is an extremely arrogant and self-regarding man with a cast-iron belief in his own brilliance and his own ability. Like Caesar, he refers to himself in the third person ("When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous..." he says to Cassius during their argument). This shows him, like Caesar does, trying to present an image of himself, trying to further his own mythic reputation as a wonderful politician.

Both are arrogant, both are powerful, both are influential. They are very similar individuals, as is pointed out by Cassius when he compares their names in Act 1, Scene 2 ("Brutus and Caesar. What should be in that Caesar?"). But the key difference is that we see Brutus' opinions and flaws far more clearly than we ever see Caesar's: Caesar remains a mystery at the heart of the play.

With your second question, you've hit, as the posts above show, on one of the key problems of the play. Who is the protagonist? You can, and scholars have, actually make an argument for each of the four central characters being the play's protagonist. Here's a brief summary of each argument:

  • Brutus' personal relationships are the play's focus, as well as his decision to join the conspiracy, and ends with his death.
  • Cassius is the engine of the drama, and the play's most sympathetic character.
  • The play is really about Mark Antony's rise: sort of "Antony and Cleopatra: Part 1".
  • Caesar dominates the play like a colossus: even after his death.
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play is named after Caesar, but Brutus is the play's protagonist. He is a Shakespearean tragic hero; the play concerns his internal and external conflicts and ends with his downfall and destruction.

Brutus and Caesar are alike in some respects. Both are powerful men with loyal followers. Neither man questions the rightness of his path. Caesar feels justified in ruling Rome as he wishes; Brutus feels justified in assassinating Caesar for the good of Rome. Neither questions his own decisions, although both make poor decisions that result in their deaths. Caesar insists upon going to the Senate despite Calpurnia's fear and warnings. Brutus decides to let Antony live, a major error of judgment. Interestingly, both Caesar and Brutus are poor judges of character; both are deceived and manipulated by those they trust. Cassius tricks Brutus into the plot against Caesar; Brutus and the other conspirators betray Caesar, manipulating him onto the Senate floor where he can be murdered.

There is a major character difference between the two, however. Caesar acts out of love for himself and his own power; he is arrogant. Brutus is arrogant in thinking he can save his country, but he acts out of love for freedom in Rome.

jdellinger | Student

Brutus would definitely be the protagonist and Cassius the antagonist. I don't see a whole lot of similarities in the two, but there are plenty of differences. Cassius is power hungry and wants to control Rome and is using Brutus to that. He uses Brutus' nobility and his concern for Rome to intice Brutus to be involved in the conspiracy to kill Caesar. They both are manipulative, but Brutus truly believes what he is doing is honrable, whereas Cassius has no nobility or honorable motives at all.

pinkytune123 | Student

Protagonist: The protagonist is definitely Julius Caesar. You see the play itself is given his name and so accordingly(according to the play's title) explains his success, fame and mostly telling all the details of how his death took place. Surprisingly, the death includes the tale of Brutus - his murderer, of how he was influenced by Cassius, killed his dearest friend and told of his end.

But other literarians give opposing views. They argue that the play is wrongly entitled and the protagonist is Brutus. They prefer this opinion because of the following reason-

*1 Julius Caesar had died near the beginning of the story, yet the play is named after him. On the other hand, Marcus Brutus seems to dominate most of the play, then why the play is not named after him? They also think because of this same reason that Brutus is the protagonist of the play.

My reply to the opposite view- Inspite of those reasons; I will firmly say that Julius Caesar is the protagonist and so I is rightly entitled. Those people fail to understand that even if Marcus Brutus seems to dominate most of the play; he does it under the provision of Caesar’s death. His story reveals the cause of Caesar’s death. But, Shakespeare also shows pity to him and shows that how he was destroyed by the fellow-Cassius, Brutus’s brother-in-law.

Moreover; Shakespeare is certainly not a fool, in fact, he is a playwriter whose plays are studied even after his death for five centuries! So, those people, you figure out are really opposing such a great playwriter’s work. Pretty hillarious, huh? He sensibly fitted Brutus in the play to show the reason how and why was Caesar killed.

Those people will then argue further by questioning that then why Brutus’s death and troubles are seen; in response, I will say that Shakespeare has given those stuff so to represent a moral. The moral of the play is that the t the bad always loses and the good always wins. However, the choice is yours. Would you choose Julius Caesar or Marcus Brutus as the protagonist of the play?

Antagonist: This play's antagonist as most people suggest is Brutus. But I extremely disagree the fact; you consider it - was it Cassius who influenced his mind to kill Caesar or was it Brutus himself?. You see, the play's antagonist is definitely not Brutus. Really, I will say the main trouble-maker is Cassius. Though, intelligent; he is the one who caused the murder of Caesar, disorder in Rome, the ruination of peace in Rome for a war(that took place between the armies of Brutus and Cassius and the armies of Antonio and Octavius).

So, I will finally sum up that Julius Caesar/Marcus Brutus is the protagonist and the antagonist is Cassius.

pinkytune123 | Student

To find out the similarities and dissimilarities among Caesar and Brutus, we should first focus on the points that divide them in two characters and also classify them individually:



Character Overview: Julius Caesar is the central figure of this play. Yet he doesn’t play any important role that affects or influences the play in any way. Caesar is a character who is sometimes reasonable, sometimes superstitious, sometimes compassionate, and sometimes arrogantly unfriendly. Caesar openly displays a tendency to ignore superstitious warnings and signs that should alert a man of his beliefs. Caesar thinks himself a demigod. He even comes to think of himself older and more terrible even than "danger." His sense of superiority to his fellow humans, as well as his ambition to be a king, ultimately prevents him from observing and reasoning clearly. Caesar is a practicable character in the play who continues to be a role in the play even after his assassination as a warning spirit.

Some points(as questions) focusing on his character:

1 His strengths

(a) What were his achievements as a soldier, general, dictator, patrician, and a nobleman?

(b) How did most of the common folks of Rome look upon him?

2 His ambition

(a) What evidences are there to show that Caesar desired to become King of the Romans?

3 His weaknesses

(a)What physical illness did Caesar suffer from?

(b) How did Caesar allow himself to be persuaded by Decius to go to the capitol where he was murdered? Observe the points, below–

(i) He(Decius) dismissed his superstitious fears by interpreting Calphurnia’s dream in a flattering way.

(ii) He(Decius) appealed to his feelings by saying that he had heard about the Senate’s decision.

(iii) He(Decius) appealed to his pride by suggesting that Caesar would be called a coward.



Character Overview: Brutus is the most complex character in the play “Julius Caesar”. He is proud of his reputation for honor and nobleness, but he is not practical. He made his behavior to fit a strict moral and ethical code, but he took actions that are unconsciously hypocritical. While he loved Caesar, he opposed the ascension of any single man to the position of a dictator. He was a supporter of the republic who strongly believed in a government guided by the votes of senators. While all the other conspirators acted out of envy and rivalry, only Brutus truly believed that Caesar’s death would truly benefit Rome. Torn between his loyalty to Caesar and his obedience to the state, he became the tragic hero of this story.

Some points focusing on his character:

1 His strengths

(a) Brutus was thought to be a noble character by friends and enemies alike. Consider the following areas:

(i) How he treated his friends

(ii) Why the conspirators needed him

(iii) What Brutus himself wanted

(iv) How Caesar looked upon him

(v) What Antonio said of him at his death

2 His weaknesses

Though, still having some positive sides; however, he had serious weaknesses which brought about his downfall and also affected the outcome of the conspiracy. His idealism made him blind to political realities and he made many mistakes of judgement. His lack of political acumen caused him to make unfateful decisions. He overrode Cassius on many occasions although Cassius had a better sense of political reality. Observe some of more of his weak points, given below-

(a) A proud man in some areas like….

(i) When Casius compared him with Caesar, then he said that …..

(ii) He believed in his own judgements even when Cassius had better ones regarding Mark Antony as well as their battle strategy

(b) Too idealistic like….

(i) He saw the killing of Caesar as carving a dish for the gods.

(ii) He explained to the crowd that he killed Caesar because he was ambitious, without giving any supportive proofs.

(iii) He explained to his friends that killing Mark Antony is not necessary because he said that Mark Antony was only a limb of Caesar’s and when they have cut the head off then why cut limbs off, as well.

(c) Too honest – Thatswhy could be easily influenced by others

(d) Too trusty – for that he revealed his negative thoughts to Cassius and he on the other hand, betrayed him and played on his fears and weaknesses


So, after observing their individual characters and some points focusing on their characteristics, I can summarize the similarities and dissimilarities among them

- -> Similarities between Brutus and Caesar

Both are popular and influential - Brutus and Caesar both were similarly honored by the people of Rome. Though, Caesar was more popular and honored by the Romans. They had numerous loyal followers. They were enough powerful and were great politicians.

Both have the disability of making correct decisions – Both Caesar and Brutus died in the last because of making unfateful decisions. Though; Caesar really was a very sensible person and usually made accurate decisions but, because of being a too realistic, he did not care much for superstitions and thus decides to disobey Calphurnia’s pleas; which resulted in his death. But, Brutus as we see from the beginning of the play, always keeps taking wrong decisions, in which resulted on his death.

Both were deceived and manipulated by their trusted friends – This is one of their greatest similarities in the story that happens to them in the same degree (amount). Caesar is betrayed by Brutus-his trusty friend and other trusted ones (though, Antonio and his nephew-Octavius remain at his side). Brutus is betrayed by his much-loved wife’s brother-Cassius. Cassius destroyed his life by fooling him. He made him think that the people did not want Caesar as their leader and that he was ambitious and would make Rome miserable. In this way, he made him kill Caesar by making a conspiracy (against him) and also made him betray Caesar. At the end, when Brutus realizes it, however he fell into despair and after losing the battle with Antonio and Octavius; he took the choice of suicide. Really, Cassius is the main pulp (referring to the main cause) for these unwanted events to take place.

-> Dissimilarities between Brutus and Caesar

Had different characteristics and mentality

• Had different interests

• Had different motives