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Julius Caesar Essay, Research Paper

Self-Concepts in Julius Caesar

All people have definite concepts of self. In different

situations, one may feel short, tall, smart, slow, fast, talkative,

reserved, etceteras. These self-concepts are usually very different than

how others opinions of us. Depending on one’s actions, words or even tone

of voice, one may misrepresent oneself and be misinterpreted. One may be

so arrogant or so humble that they prevent themselves from seeing

themselves through others’ eyes. In William Shakespeare’s play Julius

Caesar, two main characters, Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, present

different personas- one being each characters actual

self-characterizations, which we learn through their discussions with

others, and another is how they are actually perceived in the eyes of

others. Their inability to project their true motives in performing

certain actions eventually brings about their tragic downfalls.

Julius Caesar believed that people needed one strong ruler in

order to have maximum production and proper function of a society. He

believed that he possessed many, if not all, of the characteristics

required of a great leader. He spoke to others in a way which he believed

exhibited authority, told people why he should be the one to lead them,

and thought that his own advice was best. His unwillingness to listen to

others is received as arrogance. Though already warned by the soothsayer

to “beware the ides of March,” Caesar refuses to heed advice to stay home

from Calpurnia, his wife, because he feels that she is trying to keep him

from obtaining power and status. Calpurnia believes Caesar to be a prince

and is convinced that some falling meteors are warnings of a prince’s

death. When she hears her husband boast that he is more dangerous than

danger itself, she recognizes that this is simple arrogance, and tells him

so, saying, “Alas, my lord/ Your wisdom is consumed in confidence (Act II,

scene 2).” In response to her criticism and humble petitions, Caesar

momentarily agrees to pacify her. However, when he changes his mind and

decides to leave against her admonitions, she reluctantly, but obediently

fetches Caesar’s robe and he departs for the Senate, and his meeting with

fate. Caesar’s greatest character flaw, however, is thinking that he is

far above others and somehow invincible. When he compares his own

perseverance with that of the North Star, saying “But I am as constant as

the northern star/Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality/there is no

fellow in the firmament (Act III, Scene 1), ” he pushes the envelope too

far. It is here that his murderers descend him upon. When Caesar

compares himself to a heavenly body, Brutus’ fear about Caesar becoming

intoxicated with power begins show truth, and his conspirators feel they

must kill him. When faced with death, however, Caesar’s’ humanity is

restored to him. The dying Caesar is not the egotistical and power-hungry

man who has just spoken from the throne. For a moment, he is only an

idealist who cherishes the noble love of a friend more than anything in

the world. When he sees Brutus, whom he loves best, among his betrayers,

he relinquishes his hold on the world and utters, “Then fall Caesar (Act

III, scene1).”

As a member of the conspiracy against Caesar, Marcus Brutus

declares to himself that his role in the conspiracy is to save Rome. He

says to the people, “If then that friend demand why Brutus rose /against

Caesar, this is my

answer: Not that I lov’d /Caesar less, but that I

loved Rome more(Act

III, scene 2).” He believes himself to be an

honorable man, to his country and to Caesar. He does not think that his

people would do well under the rule of a king, and he concludes that

Caesar would definitely want Brutus to keep him from being an insufferable

dictator. His conflict consists of his love for Caesar on one hand, and

his concern for the public good and the welfare of the Republic. When

approached by Cassius to join a conspiracy against his friend, Brutus does

spend a restless night making his decision. He can find no justification

in past actions for Caesar’s murder; therefore, he finds justification for

it in what Caesar might become. He assumes that Caesar will become an

unbearable tyrant if he is made king, and it is based on this assumption

that he decides to will join in the conspiracy. The flaw in his reasoning

is that Brutus does not raise the question of whether or not a moral end

justifies immoral means, nor does he consider that his action may be met

with public disfavor. He is blindly convinced in the power of reason and

believes that the public, when they have heard his reasons, will support

his action.

Because he has little practical knowledge of life, he is blind

to the real motives and nature of men and is unfamiliar with procedures of

war.

Brutus attempted to advocate peace, freedom, and liberty for all

Romans. He also tried to bring about solidarity amongst the conspirators.

Brutus said that if the conspirators did not join for a common cause, then

there is no need for an oath because the conspirators are self-righteous.

If the conspirators did not bind together, then each man will go his own

way, and become a weakling. “No not an oath, If not by the face of men,

/the sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse-/If these motives be weak,

break off betimes, /and every men hence to his idle bed; /So let high

sighted tyranny rage on, /till each man drop by lottery (Act II, scene

1).”

Brutus is a character who is revered. Caesar feels that Brutus is

noble to him and does the right thing, regardless of personal danger. On

the Ides of March, as Caesar was assassinated, Caesar’s last line is: “Et

tu, Brute?–Then fall, Caesar.”(Act 3, scene 1). This shows that Caesar

would not die without Brutus’ stab. Caesar realizes that there must be a

noble reason for this assassination if Brutus was in it. This again shows

how much Caesar respects Brutus.

Since Brutus “…loved Rome more.”(Act

3,scene2), he decided to be a part of the conspiracy. If he hadn’t loved

Rome more than Caesar, he would not have joined in the assassination of

Julius Caesar. Cassius and the rest of the conspirators chose Brutus to

join them and head the conspiracy because they knew how much Brutus was

respected by the people, and the people would think that if Brutus killed

Caesar, there was a good reason for it.

After the assassination of

Julius Caesar, Brutus talks to Antony about Caesar’s death. “Our hearts

you see not; they are pitiful; and pity to the general wrong of

Rome…”(Act 3, scene 1). Brutus says that Antony cannot see their

(members of the conspiracy) hearts, which are full of pity. Again, this

shows how Brutus loved Caesar but cared for the life of Rome and its

people more. It also shows his naivet?, because he believes everyone has

as pure a heart as he, but then Anthony does not follow through on a

promise made to him and declares an attack on the conspirators. Up until

his death, Brutus feels that he has done what he has for the good of the

Romans, never thinking of himself. Though his fellow conspirators were

only envious of Caesar, Brutus had only noble intentions. After he has

killed himself, even Antony declares, “And this was a man!”(Act V, scene

5) As we go through life, we must learn to be perceptive of other people’s

thoughts and feelings, of not just what is going on around us, but also of

their attitudes toward us. We must take time to understand why people

feel about us the way they do and, if need be, make the changes which will

make us better able to move productively through life. If Caesar had

listened to others more and Brutus paid more attention to his deeper

judgment, both would have continued to live long, productive lives, and

not have been so susceptible to the actions and wants of others.

31f


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