Julius Caesar is set in 44 BC were Rome was a republic. Roman influence had spread beyond Italy and through the Mediterranean and some of North Africa and also parts of Germany, Belgium and Britain. A senate governed Rome. The main objective of all this meant that not one person was solely in charge and had absolute power and were king like. Marcus Brutus is the most complex character in this play. Brutus is one of the men who assassinate Caesar in the senate. Brutus is complex, because he does not just kill Caesar for greed, envy or to protect his social position like so many of the other conspirators.
This Brutus makes very clear in his speech in act III, scene II (lines 12-76), where he explains his actions as being only for the good of Rome. Unlike the other conspirators, Brutus is in fact a dear friend of Caesar’s but kills his ally not for who he is, but what he could become. It is for this reason that when Brutus commits suicide in Act V, Mark Antony describes his bitter enemy by saying “This was the noblest roman of them all”, (Act V, Scene V, line 68), Mark Antony recognising with these words that Brutus acted from a sense of public duty, not out of cruelty.
However, it is hard to ignore the fact that Brutus has one main weakness which is his pride. Furthermore, he has to appear noble to himself and everyone around him. So one of Brutus’s motives is a sense of ancestral pride. He has to live up to the standard his ancestors had set and cannot belittle them in anyway. This is one of his main weaknesses in this play because his ancestor Brutus overthrew the last king Tarquin in 509 BC and so founded the roman republic. Cassius is a very devious and sly senator he is one of the original conspirators against Caesar.
Like the other conspirators he fears what life under King Caesar’s rule could mean for him and the privileges he has. The plot of Julius Caesar would be strikingly relevant to the Elizabethan audience due to the recent attempted rebellion of the Earl of Essex. He was one of Queen Elizabeth’s favourites but he was plotting against her to overthrow her but he was caught. This rebellion had been foiled. For these reasons the play has been made a theoretical study about the tensions between friends who held power, and the possible effects in the plot were to succeed.
When we first encounter Cassius in Act I Scene ii the audience will begin to comprehend Caesars perception of him. Furthermore, on the surface Cassius will appear as a predatorily, sly and tricky senator. It is hard to ignore the fact that in this conversation between Caesar and Mark Antony the audience will begin to learn that Caesar fears Cassius. Caesar is aware that Cassius is a threat, “He thinks too much, such men are dangerous”; this would suggest that Caesar is reluctant to the fact that Cassius is a malcontent, and if he were to fear someone it would be Cassius.
Moreover, Caesar cannot tell anyone about this he has to appear invulnerable. In contrast with this, “For always I am Caesar”, he is adopting a false disguise of not caring about him as if he admits fear he’ll become a target and may become subject to attacks. Also not be seen as this August ruler and cannot let Cassius belittle him. Also “He hears no music”, in Elizabethan times music was associated closely with harmony and peace. The fact he hears no music would suggest to an Elizabethan audience that Cassius is a force of evil and not at one with the world and may be seen as a pre-cursor to the following violence.
Overall Caesar will suggest to the audience that Cassius is a danger, he is never happy when he knows someone around him is more powerful than him, “Such men are never at hearts ease”, and that he is very cunning and not at one with the world. In Act I Scene ii Cassius is trying to manipulate Brutus and is using a variety of techniques to influence Brutus to join this conspiracy that a group of senators have made up to abolish Caesars reign. Cassius says at the start of this conversation, “Will you go see the order of the course”.
This seems as a friendly, genuine, open query. In addition, it shows that he is concerned about his friends well being. Initially he may seem to the audience as a friendly senator, however as the scene will slowly show us that is used as a false cover-up to manipulate Brutus. Also, when Cassius says, “Brutus, I do observe you now of late”, not many people will disagree with the fact that Cassius is inflating Brutus’s` ego. However, the audience will think he’s been biding his time to manipulate like a predator and its prey.
Moreover, he is adopting a weaker position to attempt to manoeuvre Brutus, and to inflate his ego to encourage him into conversation and bolster his pride. Cassius is moving Brutus into position. Brutus’s response is with a self satisfied tone; Brutus is adopting a position of superiority which is exactly what Cassius wants Brutus to do because this is one of his techniques he is using to manipulate Brutus. In contrast with this, when Cassius says, “Then Brutus, I have much mistook your passions”, again the tone Cassius has replied with is in a very servile and apologetic.
Cassius is adopting a weaker position. This is a very good applicable example of Cassius manipulative technique he has seen his early manoeuvre and now he is driving Brutus into conversation by being very obedient and is making Brutus reveal disturbing thoughts and this is his first stage of manipulation complete. However his manipulation is not complete, he is now going to adopt his second stage of his techniques to manipulate Brutus. “Tell me good Brutus, can you see your face,” this would seem as a sudden and surprising logic of argument.
It doesn’t follow, but this is Cassius` clever manipulative technique; he has got Brutus into conversation and will want him to reveal that he wants to assassinate Caesar. He is keeping him unbalanced to manipulate him. Brutus’s` response is merely that of he cannot see his face and Cassius pounces on this opportunity, “Tis just”, Cassius is now deliberately inflating Brutus pride and now he is enticing him in and he is pumping up his pride deliberately to burst him.
Cassius continues and is being very flattering towards Brutus by saying he is very noble but then suddenly “Except immortal Caesar” this would have destroyed Brutus’s sense of pride and would have enraged Brutus; he has relatively degraded him and belittled him in front of Caesar and is now weighing him down. He is doing this to serve his own ends so now Brutus who is enraged can reveal what he exactly feels. On the other hand Brutus’s` response is that which catches Cassius off hand, “into what dangers would you lead me Cassius”, this would suggest that Brutus knows Cassius is manipulating him.
However, as he is playing with Brutus’s heap of pride, he cannot resist. The audience will begin to learn that there is tension beneath the surface between these two senators. Furthermore, Cassius has gone a bit too far and goes back to what he was doing before and he readopts the manipulative procedure he was displaying. What’s more, he is trying to appease Brutus by claiming how wonderful he is to give him complete weakness to make Brutus feel outstanding and incomparable. As the scene develops Brutus admits that he fears that the people will choose Caesar as their king.
Cassius pounces on this and is going to use this as an advantage to manipulate Brutus. In contrast with this, “Like a colossus we petty men, walk under his huge legs, and peep about” there is now a sense of anger they are infuriated allowed themselves to be belittled and debased in front of Caesar. When Cassius says “Caesar is like a colossus”, he is suggesting that Caesar is like a god in front of them, so he is higher than them and they are like petty children in front of Caesar. Additionally, Caesar is degrading them. Now Cassius is deliberately trying to pull Brutus’s strings in saying Caesar is better than him.
Now Cassius has finished his second stage of his manipulation. Now he will begin his third stage of manipulation. At this point Caesar returns. This could be a deliberate piece of stage craft to show how Brutus was being manipulated by Cassius or it was deliberately on Cassius` part having a crowd celebrating Caesar to manipulate Brutus’s pride further. Now the third stage of manipulation begins. “Men at some times are masters of their fates”, Cassius is suggesting to Brutus that it’s their duty to be honourable and to act to do something about it, they have individual free will and they can’t let Caesar rise above them.
Moreover, as Cassius says: “Brutus and Caesar. What should be in that Caesar”? Cassius is now becoming rhetorical and his false disguise is removed. He is trying to bring the manipulation to an end he is trying to unman Brutus and inflate his ego so, that will make him act against Caesar. Also Cassius is very clever as he needs Brutus to join the conspiracy and act against Caesar and to further inflate his ego,” There was a Brutus once”, Cassius is now talking about Brutus’s ancestral pride he is saying he has to act now and do something about it or he is letting his ancestors down even though he has the power to do something about it.
This now is Cassius` final attempt to manipulate Brutus, and to an extent he has succeed and manipulated Brutus. This would suggest that Cassius is very devious and sly but at the same time very clever to manipulate Brutus to a certain extent to make him admit that he does fear Caesar to be king and he has thought about this issue before. It is hard to ignore the fact, that Cassius wants Caesar killed only for the reason of his privileges being limited, and is afraid what life under Caesar would be like.
Marcus Brutus is a very proud and noble man as we find out in this scene. We also learn that he has many weaknesses which Cassius has broken. Furthermore, Brutus’s main weakness in this play is undoubtedly to appear noble to himself and everyone around him. Also, another one of his main weaknesses is his ancestral pride. Cassius has broken into this weakness, and is telling Brutus that he cannot degrade his ancestors in anyway and must act and do what’s good for Rome.
The audience cannot begin to speak ill of Brutus in any way as what he is doing is for the good of Rome, and is doing the honourable thing, “The name of honour more than I fear death”, and he is saying he has turned his attention to this to regain a sense of pride & power and to reinstate a sense of his honour. In this scene when Brutus is being manipulated by Cassius Brutus knows that Cassius is trying to manipulate him into joining their conspiracy to assassinate Caesar, However the audience by now will begin to understand that Brutus is a very proud man.
As well as this, the audience will also be aware of the fact that Cassius has successfully crushed Brutus in all his weaknesses, although, Brutus knows he is being manipulated, “into which dangers do you lead me Cassius? ” Furthermore, as the scene develops Brutus tells Cassius to stop manipulating him, “For this present, I would not, so with love I might entreat you, be any further moved” Cassius` attempts to influence Brutus have succeeded but Brutus was aware of the fact that he was being manipulated by Cassius. At the end of the scene both men would be equal in power, and not one of these two men having more power.
In contrast with this, even when Cassius was manipulating Brutus and making him feel superior to him, however, that now has changed and both men would be of equal power. This is due to the fact when Brutus visits Cassius later on in the scene, “I will come here to you”, this suggests that they are equal and their relation has changed and there is far more equality and respect. Furthermore Cassius has triumphed over Brutus as he congratulates himself in his triumph over Brutus. What’s more, Cassius` actions to a new start would have seemed strongly deceitful.
Brutus has changed in Act II scene i a great deal he has the realisation of Caesars death, “It must be by his death”, he also says he has no personal hatred towards Caesar and seeks to promise this is not a personal grudge and is partially in the interest for the general good of Rome, reluctant to the fact that Caesar is a good friend and ally, Brutus cannot let this interfere with his personal feeling for the good of Rome and must assassinate him. Besides this, if they give Caesar complete power it will poison him. Also, Brutus has to appear honourable to himself and everyone around him.
He is deceiving himself; He is not a bad character and is assassinating Caesar for the good of Rome. In contrast with this, if they give Caesar all power he might start to misuse his power and begin to become corruptive. The audience must begin to understand that Brutus does not want to become king he just doesn’t want anyone ruling over him. As the scene develops the conspirators enter into Brutus` home. As they all enter Brutus launches an attack on all of them, “Sham`st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night”, here Brutus is suggesting to them that they are ashamed to show themselves even at night when evil acts are performed.
Consequently Brutus is adopting a superior role in the conspiracy, so, Cassius is response is merely that of, “I think we are too bold upon your rest”, suggesting to the audience that Cassius is carrying on his manipulation in the previous scene. There is a false facade he is adopting, and using the same techniques as in the previous scene, and is trying to be submissive towards Brutus but what Cassius doesn’t know is that Brutus is very confident and not imbalanced, as he was in the previous scene.
The audience will sense that he is in a position of power when he welcomes the conspirators to his home and He appears in command and control as he welcomes them all except Cassius. “He is welcome hither”, the audience will begin to sense there is tension under the surface between them. In this scene this is the first unclear indication that Brutus is in control due to the fact he is welcoming everyone to his home. In addition, when Brutus has welcomed everyone Cassius takes Brutus to one side and they start to discuss things this would suggest to the audience that at the start they are both equal and superior to the other conspirators.
Still, at the start of the scene Cassius would have been confident from the previous scene after manipulating Brutus successfully but he needs Brutus to be involved in the conspiracy because of the fact that Brutus morally validates what they are doing. As a result, Brutus says, “Give me your hands all over, one by one”. Here Brutus takes them by hand and accepts all of them and is actually in order of command and authority. But Cassius is anxious to take control and appears to us that he likes authority.
He cannot let Brutus to overthrow him so Cassius immediately interrupts Brutus to make a suggestion of his own, to give an impression that they are equal leaders of the conspiracy, and not one of them has more power than the other “And let us swear our resolutions”, in a similar way Cassius is saying to all the conspirators that they should all swear they are going to carry this out, this seems as a sensible suggestion and is a practical suggestion but Brutus violently exclaims, “If not the face of men, the sufferance of our souls, the times buse- if these be motives weak, break off bedtimes, and very man hence to his idle bed;” Brutus is now deliberately debasing Cassius, he is actively belittling him and his opinions are not influenced by any of the conspirators. In a similar way, Brutus violently puts Cassius back in place not allowing him to carry on his previous manipulation. Brutus is now involved in the conspiracy and now he will violently take control of the conspiracy. Brutus does not take commands from any one. The audience will begin to sense there is a power struggle between these two men; also, the audience can tell that Brutus is an individual with a specific plot.
Brutus is now going to disable Cassius and does this to deliberately undermine Cassius pride by criticising Cassius` suggestion. He automatically opposes all of Cassius` suggestions: “Not an oath”. Brutus is very dismissive and exclaims this in a scornful tone. The short sentence immediately affects Cassius` authority. Brutus has a passion of out powering him and he is disapproving Cassius. Also, there is a great deal of enjambment of sentences and a sense of speed and passion. Brutus is deliberately belittling him in front of the conspirators.
Initially Cassius was the leader when at the start of the scene he lead the conspirators into Brutus` home but there has been a violent rebellion by Brutus and a violent verbal assault as a result, him being the sole leader, “To kindle cowards, and to steal with valour”, Here Brutus is saying the only person who needs an oath would be a coward despite this Brutus is being very abusive towards Cassius` practical suggestion, he is jumping at every opportunity to demean Cassius and seeking to suggest to all the other conspirators that Cassius is weak and unworthy to be leader.
Furthermore, when Brutus violently exclaims: “Did need an oath when every drop of blood that every Roman bears”, Brutus here again is saying that they don’t need an oath and their blood was bastardly not true Romans, he is setting a composition between both of them. By contrast, “But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him? ” again this is a perfectly good suggestion and there is nothing wrong with it but again Brutus has to appear in control and not let Cassius reclaim a sense of balance and control in the conspiracy.
The only reason Brutus disagreed with the statement was because Cassius mentioned it and Brutus seeks to undermine Cassius and take away every last inch of power and honour he has left in the conspiracy. Now Cassius has been forced to accept a submissive position he has been forced on the back foot by Brutus and Brutus is violently taking control away from him, hence, this sudden attack which has caught Cassius off guard so he can’t fight back. Also, the other conspirators have to obey Brutus and are starting to agree with what he says.
As a result of this what ever Cassius suggests Brutus just slaps it down Cassius is getting weaker and weaker and has to go along with some of Brutus’s suggestions to regain some of his pride & honour. Nevertheless Cassius makes another good suggestion, “let Antony and Caesar fall together”, but again Brutus just slaps this down because Cassius has said it although Brutus was wrong to this and let Mark Antony get away with it because it would soon lead to the conspirators downfall. Again Brutus is adopting a position of superior power and superior moral position to degrade Cassius. Let us be sacrificers but not butchers” to the audience this would suggest that Brutus is not a villain he is projecting a self image of an honourable man. To do what is good for Rome, and not to kill anyone other than Caesar. By the end of this scene Brutus has completely destroyed Cassius` authority and is now the leader of the conspiracy as at the end he dismisses the conspirators which would suggest that he is in power and is greatest. Cassius speaks less in this scene because Brutus has simply destroyed all of Cassius authority in the conspiracy.
All the suggestions Cassius tried to propose, Brutus cut short, degraded and debased every time. Cassius at the start of the scene would have been confident to just come and inflate Brutus’s ego further but Brutus was ready for Cassius and not imbalanced and wouldn’t let Cassius inflate his ego further. Also, Brutus violently disabuses Cassius forcing him onto the back foot and having to appear weaker in front of the well-known Brutus. Besides that if Cassius would want to regain his sense of pride or power he would have to agree with everything Brutus says.