Self Concept: Caesar Essay, Research Paper
All people have definite concepts of self. In differentsituations, one may feel short, tall, smart, slow, fast, talkative,reserved, etceteras. These self-concepts are usually very different thanhow others opinions of us. Depending on one’s actions, words or even toneof voice, one may misrepresent oneself and be misinterpreted. One may beso arrogant or so humble that they prevent themselves from seeingthemselves through others’ eyes. In William Shakespeare’s play JuliusCaesar, two main characters, Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, presentdifferent personas- one being each characters actualself-characterizations, which we learn through their discussions withothers, and another is how they are actually perceived in the eyes ofothers. Their inability to project their true motives in performingcertain actions eventually brings about their tragic downfalls. Julius Caesar believed that people needed one strong ruler inorder to have maximum production and proper function of a society. Hebelieved that he possessed many, if not all, of the characteristicsrequired of a great leader. He spoke to others in a way which he believedexhibited authority, told people why he should be the one to lead them,and thought that his own advice was best. His unwillingness to listen toothers is received as arrogance. Though already warned by the soothsayerto “beware the ides of March,” Caesar refuses to heed advice to stay homefrom Calpurnia, his wife, because he feels that she is trying to keep himfrom obtaining power and status. Calpurnia believes Caesar to be a princeand is convinced that some falling meteors are warnings of a prince’sdeath. When she hears her husband boast that he is more dangerous thandanger itself, she recognizes that this is simple arrogance, and tells himso, saying, “Alas, my lord/ Your wisdom is consumed in confidence (Act II,scene 2).” In response to her criticism and humble petitions, Caesarmomentarily agrees to pacify her. However, when he changes his mind anddecides to leave against her admonitions, she reluctantly, but obedientlyfetches Caesar’s robe and he departs for the Senate, and his meeting withfate. Caesar’s greatest character flaw, however, is thinking that he isfar above others and somehow invincible. When he compares his ownperseverance with that of the North Star, saying “But I am as constant asthe northern star/Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality/there is nofellow in the firmament (Act III, Scene 1), ” he pushes the envelope toofar. It is here that his murderers descend him upon. When Caesarcompares himself to a heavenly body, Brutus’ fear about Caesar becomingintoxicated with power begins show truth, and his conspirators feel theymust kill him. When faced with death, however, Caesar’s’ humanity isrestored to him. The dying Caesar is not the egotistical and power-hungryman who has just spoken from the throne. For a moment, he is only anidealist who cherishes the noble love of a friend more than anything inthe world. When he sees Brutus, whom he loves best, among his betrayers,he relinquishes his hold on the world and utters, “Then fall Caesar (ActIII, scene1).” As a member of the conspiracy against Caesar, Marcus Brutusdeclares to himself that his role in the conspiracy is to save Rome. Hesays to the people, “If then that friend demand why Brutus rose /againstCaesar, this is myanswer: Not that I lov’d /Caesar less, but that Iloved Rome more(ActIII, scene 2).” He believes himself to be anhonorable man, to his country and to Caesar. He does not think that hispeople would do well under the rule of a king, and he concludes thatCaesar would definitely want Brutus to keep him from being an insufferabledictator. His conflict consists of his love for Caesar on one hand, andhis concern for the public good and the welfare of the Republic. Whenapproached by Cassius to join a conspiracy against his friend, Brutus doesspend a restless night making his decision. He can find no justificationin past actions for Caesar’s murder; therefore, he finds justification forit in what Caesar might become. He assumes that Caesar will become anunbearable tyrant if he is made king, and it is based on this assumptionthat he decides to will join in the conspiracy. The flaw in his reasoningis that Brutus does not raise the question of whether or not a moral endjustifies immoral means, nor does he consider that his action may be metwith public disfavor. He is blindly convinced in the power of reason andbelieves that the public, when they have heard his reasons, will supporthis action.Because he has little practical knowledge of life, he is blindto the real motives and nature of men and is unfamiliar with procedures ofwar.Brutus attempted to advocate peace, freedom, and liberty for allRomans. He also tried to bring about solidarity amongst the conspirators.Brutus said that if the conspirators did not join for a common cause, thenthere 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 ownway, 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 highsighted tyranny rage on, /till each man drop by lottery (Act II, scene1).”Brutus is a character who is revered. Caesar feels that Brutus isnoble to him and does the right thing, regardless of personal danger. Onthe Ides of March, as Caesar was assassinated, Caesar’s last line is: “Ettu, Brute?–Then fall, Caesar.”(Act 3, scene 1). This shows that Caesarwould not die without Brutus’ stab. Caesar realizes that there must be anoble reason for this assassination if Brutus was in it. This again showshow much Caesar respects Brutus.Since Brutus “…loved Rome more.”(Act3,scene2), he decided to be a part of the conspiracy. If he hadn’t lovedRome more than Caesar, he would not have joined in the assassination ofJulius Caesar. Cassius and the rest of the conspirators chose Brutus tojoin them and head the conspiracy because they knew how much Brutus wasrespected by the people, and the people would think that if Brutus killedCaesar, there was a good reason for it.After the assassination ofJulius Caesar, Brutus talks to Antony about Caesar’s death. “Our heartsyou see not; they are pitiful; and pity to the general wrong ofRome…”(Act 3, scene 1). Brutus says that Antony cannot see their(members of the conspiracy) hearts, which are full of pity. Again, thisshows how Brutus loved Caesar but cared for the life of Rome and itspeople more. It also shows his naivet*, because he believes everyone hasas pure a heart as he, but then Anthony does not follow through on apromise made to him and declares an attack on the conspirators. Up untilhis death, Brutus feels that he has done what he has for the good of theRomans, never thinking of himself. Though his fellow conspirators wereonly envious of Caesar, Brutus had only noble intentions. After he haskilled himself, even Antony declares, “And this was a man!”(Act V, scene5) As we go through life, we must learn to be perceptive of other people’sthoughts and feelings, of not just what is going on around us, but also oftheir attitudes toward us. We must take time to understand why peoplefeel about us the way they do and, if need be, make the changes which willmake us better able to move productively through life. If Caesar hadlistened to others more and Brutus paid more attention to his deeperjudgment, both would have continued to live long, productive lives, andnot have been so susceptible to the actions and wants of others.