Contradictions in Brutus’ Character

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Contradictions in Brutus’ Character The central theme of the play ‘Julius Caesar’, authored by the celebrated dramatist William Shakespeare, is the conspiracy against Caesar, his assassination and the subsequent civil war between the pro-Caesar faction and the anti-Caesar faction, that causes much blood shed in the country. This is the precise political background which is set for the play. Caesar’s rising power and his popularity among the plebeians is of much concern to the Roman nobility. While a section of them is jealous of him, Brutus is worried that Caesar will rule the country in a tyrannical manner depriving the liberty of the subject. He is thinking of the common good and not the personal convenience. Brutus’ leading quality is honour, and he is not prepared to act in a way that brings him dishonour. Because of this virtue, many Romans regard him with great respect. On the other hand, Brutus is one of Caesar’s closest friends, and this he admits in his speech delivered at the burial of his dead body, ‘Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more.’ It is the biggest contradiction in Brutus’ conduct besides the other inconsistencies found in his character. When he decides to side with the conspirators, was Brutus in possession of any solid evidence to convince him that Caesar would become a tyrant in the event of his being the dictator of Rome for life? To answer this question genuinely, it is necessary to examine his conduct in a broader perspective. This is what he confesses to himself: I have not known when his affections swayed More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, Act 2.i 20-22 If it is so, is it in conformity with his honour, integrity and sense of natural justice to conclude that the country can be saved only by killing his beloved friend? Considered from his own point of view, the
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