Friday, June 17, 2011

Julius Caesar

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Through this speech, we are shown many things.

Brutus famous speech shows us the intricacies of his character.

Firstly, we are shown Brutus’ honour.

Honour is one of the underlying foundations of Brutus. Throughout the play, Brutus is portrayed as an honourable person. In his speech, Brutus asks the people of Rome “Who here is so rude that would not be a Roman?” Here, Brutus shows he is honourable as he cares and protects the welfare of the people of Rome as a whole. He shows how he was torn between his sense of duty that lay with Rome, and his sense of friendship that lay with Caesar. He rationalises his actions through his speech, and proves his honour to all.

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Secondly, we are shown that Brutus was a good friend to Caesar, though not good enough. His speech shows that he had moral values in dealing with Rome and it’s people. He values Rome above all else, and would give his life and friendships for the general good of the Roman people. Brutus claims that he will be loyal to the Roman’s to the end, due to his great love for both Rome, and it’s people. Brutus claims this, as he wants the people of Rome to know how he feels. He conveys this through his speech by stating, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” For the idealistic Brutus, the welfare of the people of Rome takes precedent over that of the individuals � even those he calls his friends. Even himself. Brutus shows his high level of loyalty and devotion to Rome through this speech.

It is this that leads Brutus to join the conspiracy against Caesar. Since he “loved Rome more”, he was swayed by Cassius’ words. If he could not love Rome more that his dear friend, then his moral and ethical values would not have allowed him to be swayed.

Brutus’ speech to the plebeians is not actually directed at them. It is a highly intellectual speech that appealed to the honourable, to the elite. It is a deliberate, reasoned argument, which contains a great deal of logic, and not enough passion.

Despite this lack of passion, Brutus impresses his words upon the plebeians, leading them to cry “Let HIM be Caesar”. This is an excellent demonstration of two ideas.

The first of these is irony. Brutus has spent a great deal of time explaining to the people of Rome that the conspirators killed Julius Caesar so that Rome could remain free, without the control of a king. The people are influenced greatly, and so decide that they want Brutus for their king, to be a “Caesar.” This, of course, was not Brutus’ intention or desire at all.

The other idea shown through this is the capriciousness of the crowd. They are all with Caesar, until Brutus sway them to his side. Following this speech, Antony exercises a greater effect on this fickleness of the crowd as he sways them to his cause.

Antony’s speech is a direct contrast to Brutus speech, which is why he is able to influence the crowd so greatly and overcome Brutus’ hold on the crowd.

Critics have often pointed out the tactical errors of Brutus that led to his eventual loss of power. His greatest mistake is often stated as his allowance of Antony to speak to the masses after him. Alternatively, his greatest mistake could be in the way he speaks to the masses. Antony uses repetition and poetry to great effect, as these two things are necessary for influencing the “blocks” who need to have things made to them as simple as possible. Brutus, on the other hand, uses intellectual ideas and a logical argument into which he injects no passion.

Brutus’ speech could therefore be the pivotal speech of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. If Brutus had given a speech alight with passion, mirroring Marc Antony’s, then maybe the plebeians could not have been swayed by Antony’s equally passionate speech. Thus there would be the elimination of any other tragic figures. Also, if Brutus directed his speech towards the ordinary, rather than the intellectual, if these people were not swayed to Antony’s vengeful cause, the rest of the play would not have occurred. Brutus would have no reason for an army, no reason to commit suicide. There would be no need for a war between Antony and Brutus. The play would simply end with the funeral following the tragic death of Julius Caesar.

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