Where, in Julius Caesar, does Brutus connect with the reader, specifically during Act 3, Scene 2?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When he addresses the waiting multitude in the forum to explain the reasons for Caesar's assassination, Brutus is particularly engaging. He shows courage by even daring to face the crowd and being frank and direct. He is not at all apologetic or whimpering. The reader can only admire his commanding tone. He does not plead with the tumult but tells them to be quiet. His language is sincere and he uses persuasive rhetoric, telling all and sundry to respect his honour so that they may believe him.

What is even more impressive and engaging is that Brutus does not alienate himself from those he addresses. He places himself in their position, stating that what they felt or feel is equal to his sentiment. If they loved Caesar, so did he. He beautifully conveys the idea that his role in the assassination was not bred from malice. He pre-empts the crowds' thoughts by stating that if they should wish to know why he killed Caesar, it was not because he loved him less but that he loved Rome more.

This statement most effectively conveys the idea that Brutus acted not out of selfish ambition but rather in the interest of the common good. The reader can only admire him for having such depth because he follows this statement with a remarkably loaded rhetorical question:

Had you rather Caesar were living and
die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live
all free men?

The answer is most pertinently obvious and logical and, therefore, requires no response. To add to this grand rhetoric, Brutus presents a number of contrasting statements which provide greater credence to his argument as to why Caesar's death had become a necessity:

As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition.

This damning accusation of Caesar provides the crowd with a reason to have feared his rise to power. The implication is that he would have become a dictator. Once again, Brutus follows this with a string of rhetorical questions which tie in with the earlier one and for which there can only be a negative response. Even as a reader, one can only agree that Brutus had done the right thing at this point.

We have even greater admiration for Brutus when he most nobly mentions that he would make available to his country the same dagger with which he had slain Caesar if it should need to punish him for doing wrong. What a man!

Further respect for this virtuous man is gained when he graciously and generously extends a welcome to Antony to address the crowd. He asks the multitude to be courteous and to not depart. They should give him an opportunity to speak.

This generosity was probably Brutus' greatest faux pas because when Antony stands at the pulpit, he delivers such a rousing speech that the crowd becomes rebellious and turns against the conspirators. All the good in Brutus' speech is forgotten.

Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

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