Why is the part said by Brutus in act 2, scene 1, lines 79-89 important to the play?  Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this scene from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Brutus has spent a sleepless night wrestling with his conscience.  For, he realizes that Caesar has not shown overt tyranny; yet, after having listened to Cassius and read the letters that Lucius, Cassius's servant, brings him, Brutus decides that Caesar is like a

...serpent's egg

Which, hatched, as his kind, grow michievous (II,i,33-34)

So, Brutus decides that Caesar must be "killed in the shell," prevented for the good of Rome from becoming a tyrant.

However, when he sees the conspirators coming to his house, Brutus remarks upon the evil import of their and his future act:

They are the faction. O, Conspiracy,

Shamest thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,

When evils are most free? (II,i,80-81)

Then Brutus says that they should dissemble their intent with "smiles  and affability" (II,i,85)

Certainly, in this passage, there is the suggestion that Brutus is still rather unsure of the complete nobleness of the assassination of Caesar.  This ambivalence of Brutus is indicated by his sleeplessness, and his agreeing to confide in Portia--although he is deterred from doing so.  Also, there is foreshadowing in this passage of the appearance of Caesar to Brutus in a later act, an appearance which confirms the guilt that Brutus feels. 


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Julius Caesar

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