What examples or evidence from the play Julius Caesar show the themes of power and friendship?
The theme of power is dealt with early in the play, as Caesar and Brutus discuss the danger of Caesar’s ambition in Act I. In Act II Brutus has a soliloquy that addresses his inner conflict over how to deal with Caesar:
The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
Remorse from power, and, to speak truth of Caesar,
I have not known when his affections sway'd
More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,(25)
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
Here, Brutus presents a philosophy of power. It becomes dangerous when it is separated from “remorse,” or the inclination to use power conscientiously. He is also saying that it’s well known that someone who seems to spurn power, once attaining it, “turns his back” on those who helped him rise to power.
Brutus and Caesar establish a solid, if imperfect, friendship in the play. Early in the play, Cassius notes that Brutus does not seem to see him as a friend anymore. Brutus responds, saying it’s not true, it’s just that he’s had a lot on his mind lately. Later, after Caesar’s death, Brutus and Cassius are preparing to assault the armies of Antony and Octavius. They have a sharp disagreement, following by this scene of reconciliation:
When I spoke that, I was ill-temper'd too.
Do you confess so much? Give me your hand.
And my heart too.
What's the matter?
Have not you love enough to bear with me,
When that rash humour which my mother gave me
Makes me forgetful?
Yes, Cassius; and, from henceforth,
When you are over-earnest with your Brutus,
He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so.
Students are often somewhat uncomfortable with this scene, as it seems that the characters express their emotions in a very straightforward manner—a manner in which men do not speak to each other anymore.
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