In what ways does Shakespeare make you sympathise with Brutus in Julius Caesar? 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Brutus is portrayed throughout the play as a noble man. Alone among the conspirators, he acted out of concern for the Republic, not out of ambition and jealousy. This is the point that Marc Antony makes at the end of the play, after Brutus has committed suicide in defeat:

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 in him that Nature might stand up 
And say to all the world, “This was a man!”

Obviously, Antony's speech portrays Brutus in the most sympathetic light possible. But throughout the play, Brutus is seen as honorable and motivated by a sense of duty to kill his friend. (As an interesting sidenote, many Shakespearean scholars have argued that Brutus is actually the protagonist of the play.) He agonizes over whether to kill Caesar, particularly in his soliloquy at the beginning of Act II. After the deed, he orders the other conspirators not to kill Antony, saying that they should not be "butchers" and that they should remember the reason for which they are killing Caesar. In short, Brutus is an honorable character, so long as one views honor and duty as more important than friendship.


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