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An Unintentional Tragedy in Julius Caesar Essay


An Unintentional Tragedy

Exhibited innumerable times in Shakespeare's notorious melodrama, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, the most sincere intentions of dignified people can consequently end in tragedy. It is evident that Brutus, a genuine individual, is the key component to this concept. Brutus hesitates to commit himself completely to Julius Caesar as well as the conspirators, exposing his inability make decisions based on what he wants, and allowing other's to manipulate him. Brutus's virtuous, yet naive perspective on the scheme developed by the conspirators creates his own demise, and carefree ways of handling the conspirators leads to the destruction of the alliance as a whole, revealing Brutus's lack of leadership skills.

Cassius, a man of clever language and selfish intentions, is the main contributor to Brutus's indecision. At a point early on, Brutus's mood changes drastically from it usual demeanor. He admits to Cassius he is with himself at war, expressing the amount of struggle he is having within himself about Caesar being crowned the king of Rome (I.ii.46). Cassius takes advantage of his uncertainty, manipulating Brutus's emotions and thoughts with language like:

Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that Caesar?

Why should that name be sounded more than yours?

Write them together, yours is as fair a name;

Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;

Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,

Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar. (I.ii.142-147)

Brutus becomes completely indecisive at this point, and agrees to ponder the idea of conspiring against Caesar while promising to meet with Cassius to discuss such high things (I.ii.170). Although Brutus has not agreed to get involved with the conspirators immediately, Cassius manages to successfully influence the decision Brutus must make, and put ideas in Brutus's mind that would not have necessarily been there before.

Perhaps the most evident representation of Brutus's naive state of mine is the scene in which his eulogy at the funeral of Julius Caesar, where he explains the reasoning behind Caesar's murder by claiming, Not that [he] loved Caesar less, but that [he]/loved Rome more (III.ii.21-22). He explains to the people that Caesar's murder was necessary to preserve their freedoms, voicing, Had you rather Caesar were living,/and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all/ free men? (III.ii.22-24). He then tells the people of Roman people that Caesar was too ambitious, and put the Roman republic at risk. The plebeians are moved by his oration, and begin to praise Brutus and the conspirators for their heroic deed. Brutus's ignorance is then displayed when instead of disallowing Marc Antony from making his own eulogy as Cassius suggested, allows him to make his speech unsupervised. Marc Antony, one of Caesar's loyal supporter, then cleverly turns the plebeians against the conspirators expressing his opinion subliminally through passages like, When that poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;/Ambition should be made of sterner stuff./Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;/And Brutus is an honorable man (III.ii.91-93). The plebeians are so outraged that Cassius and Brutus are forced to flee Rome for their own safety.

Brutus's lighthearted approach to handling the conspirators was his most eminent flaw. When Brutus asks Cassius what he thinks of marching to Philippi with their army, Cassius answers, 'Tis better that the enemy seek us;/So shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers,/Doing himself offense. Whilst we, lying still,/Are full of rest, defense, and nimbleness (IV.ii.99-102). Brutus disagrees with Cassius's opinion. He believes that the people in the area around Philippi will be of great assistance, giving them all that they need for the journey. Cassius agrees, and when they arrive in Philippi the setting becomes chaotic, causing the beginning of the end. Brutus did not consider the consequences that came with traveling to Philippi. Not only were his men weary, but Antony and Octavius, along with their troops, were prepared for the battle. Brutus's faulty judgment led to the fall of the conspirators, with member after member being killed in battle, and if not in a battle in suicide, Cassius's final words being, Caesar thou art revenged,/Even with the sword that kill'd thee (V.iii.45-46). Brutus's failure changed the lives of some, but tragically ended other's as well.

When tragedy strikes, even the most honorable of individuals can be engulfed by its impenetrable clinch. It may be indecision within oneself, ignorance, or a permissive temperament, but nevertheless Shakespeare nimbly administers a tragic flaw to one of his complex characters creating a catastrophe that effects the outcome of his play. Brutus is the prime example of an unintentional tragedy in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. He was a man of high esteem, and whether he is considered to have been nave or just overly complacent, it is apparent that it was all in his best intention.

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