Throughout the play “Julius Caesar” it could be argued that many characters show signs of being noble. Brutus however, the dramatic focus of the play is described by Anthony as “the noblest roman of them all.” Why does Anthony say this and is this true?
From Act 1 scenes 2 and 3 we learn most about the character of Brutus “I love… the name of honour more than I fear death.” Cassius then responds with “I know that virtue to be in you Brutus” this emphasises to the reader from the start that Brutus is perceived to be honourable. Brutus is portrayed as a man who is widely respected in society with a social conscience.
From the start of the play we see Brutus set aside from the rest of the conspirators, he is at an objective viewer unlike the other conspirators like Cassius who is motivated by envy, revenge and self interest. ” And Cassius is a wretched creature, and must bend his body if Caesar carelessly but nod on him”.
It was because Brutus was so loved throughout Rome that he was vital to the plot to kill Caesar “Win the Noble Brutus to our Party” Brutus was manipulated and he joined the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar after much careful thought and manipulative flattery by Cassius. ” I know the virtue in you Brutus as well as I do your outward favour”. It was easy for Cassius to manipulate Brutus because Brutus had so much trust in everyone. This could be perceived as a flaw in Brutus’s personality but it does not detract from his nobility.
Although Brutus allowed himself to be drawn into the plot to kill Caesar he did so because of his love for Rome. He believed in the republic as the best form of government. His reasons were not selfish, he was an idealist who acted in what he thought were the best interests of Rome. A noble trait I would say. “Brutus had rather be a villager than to repute himself a son of Rome”. Stating that he would rather be a peasant than a Roman Citizen under the present oppressive regime shows that Brutus puts common good before personal feelings has a social conscience and genuinely fears for the people. “What means this shouting? I do fear the people have chosen Caesar for their King” This to me shows him to be honourable and noble. Others such as Cassius had other motives and were frightened of losing control of the Senate that their families had held for generations.
After finally deciding to join the conspirators Brutus refuses to swear on an oath “No not an oath” he goes on to say, “What need we any spur but our own cause.” Brutus here illustrates his moral principles and how he felt bound by trust alone.
Another notable example of Brutus’ nobility occurs during the first meeting of the conspirators.
“O, he sits high in all people’s hearts,” says Casca.
In act 2 scene 1 Brutus delivers a long soliloquy in which he debates the rights and wrongs of killing Caesar. Cassius suggests “let Antony and Caesar fall together.” But Brutus is against this as he feels it would make the conspirators “too bloody and more like butchers than sacrificers.” Here Brutus shows himself to be merciful a very noble trait.
After Brutus attacked Ceasar and heard the famous words “et tu Brute” Brutus says “Why I that did love Caesar when I srtuck him” proves to me that Brutus killed Caesar because he genuinely believed he had to for the noblest of reasons “Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more.”
Brutus’ speech in addressing the mob shows that he is aware that he enjoys the respect of the Roman citizens. “Believe me for mine honour, and have respect for mine honour” and he does win the people over.
Because Brutus is so honourable he trusts Anthony and overrules Cassius three times with disastrous consequences. Brutus may have been noble but he did not have either the wisdom or ruthlessness to use his power properly. Brutus forgave his enemies and although his motivation was honourable and noble his opinion of Anthony was certainly naï¿½ve, for which Brutus paid the price.
When Brutus finally takes his own life “it is more worthy to leap in ourselves” his nobility shone through as he honoured Caesar and claimed that he killed himself more easily than he had killed Caesar.
“Farewell, good strats, Caesar, now be still;
I kill’d not thee with half so good a will.”
Brutus recognised the justice of his death and accepted it as he had lived nobly. The Romans regarded suicide as noble. With all of Brutus’ characteristics I believe that he became the tragic hero of the play.
I think Anthony summed up Brutus well at the end
“This was the noblest roman of all.
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only in general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “this was a man.”
In conclusion I do believe that Brutus was the noblest Roman of them all I think the servant speaking in act 3 scene 1 described Brutus perfectly
“Brutus is noble, wise, valiant and honest.”
However although he was noble and had the very best of intentions he was ultimately naï¿½ve and too trusting. His realism overcame his reason and he paid the price for it.