Julius Caesar: Brutus Is The Protagonist Essay, Research Paper
Julius Caesar: Brutus Is The Protagonist
“He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares
not, is a slave.” – Sir William Drumman All men have the power to reason. Some
men can reason better, and more thorough than others. Yet nonetheless, all men
can reason. In order to reason, one must clear his mind, be completely
impartial, and understand the situation to the best of his ability. The play
Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, is the story of a man trying his best to
make reasonable, rational decisions. Marcus Brutus is this struggling character
who evades constant pressure from all sides to gloriously pull through, yet dies
at play’s end. Undoubtedly, Brutus is the main character, and driving force of
the play, despite the misleading title of Julius Caesar. Three separate,
critical aspects help to show the reader how unimportant Julius Caesar is to the
play. Caesar appears, in dreams, and thoughts of multiple people, giving
warnings and special messages. Nobody seems to pay attention to him.
Anotherexample is illustrated by the way that Brutus seems to dominate his own
actions, whatever he is thinking. Also, Antony declares war on Brutus, but not
out of love for Caesar, but anger toward the conspirators. As these aspects are
explained in further detail one will be sure of the fact that Brutus, without
question, clearly dominates the play as a whole.
Caesar warns numerous people of ensuing tragedies multiple times, and not once
is he listened to. Calpurnia cries out terrified three times during the night,
“Help ho – they murder Caesar!” The reader soon learns of a dream in which
Caesar’s wife visualizes her husband’s death. She begs and pleads Caesar to
stay home that day, however, nobody ever pays any attention to her dream. In
this instance, Caesar has no influence on the outcome of the play. Again, when
Brutus sees the likeness of Caesar in a dream, Caesar gives an ominous message
implying to Brutus not to go to Philipi. “. . . thou shalt see me at Philipi.”
The ghost of Caesar, unimportant and unbelieved is perceived as a “day dream.”
Brutus, not paying any attention to the dead and gone Caesar, does not listen.
In this sense, Caesar does not make a strong enough impression upon other
characters in the play to be taken seriously. In the battles between Antony
and Brutus, Caesar is often mentioned in their dying words. “Caesar, thou art
revenged, even with the sword that killed thee.” These are Cassius’ dying
words. Brutus’s final words are somewhat similar, “Caesar, now be still; I
killed not thee with half so good a will.” Their words represent that although
final thoughts consisted of the evil crime they had committed, Caesar had
nothing to do with their deaths. Caesar, although a highly respectable man,
had no more influence on the outcome of the play than did any character.
Brutus dominates his own actions throughout the story. When the reader discovers
the news of Calpurnia’s death, “No man bears a better sorrow. Portia is dead,”
they realize what must be cluttering Brutus’ (usually clear) mind. However,
nobody is able to discover if this tragedy is affecting his thoughts. Along
with Portia, Caesar is another thought in his mind. Nothing more. Stoicism
teaches one to master his emotions. Brutus is a model stoic. As Cassius wants
to talk and mourn for her, Brutus moves on “Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl
of wine. In this I bury all unkindness.” At this point, Caesar has obviously
buried all thoughts of Caesar as he was able to do with Portia. Brutus however,
is only human, and at play’s end, he commits suicide. This action may represent
a number of unrecognized, painful emotions that resurfaced in Brutus’ heart.
There is no doubt that Caesar was only one of these thoughts, if that. He
became unfocused due to his wife’s tragedy. Caesar, although in his dying
words, was not a main factor in Brutus’ suicide – only an unresolved conflict.
Marcus Antonius’ war waged against Brutus was done so more out of anger towards
Brutus, than out of grief or love for Caesar. If it were Antony’s mother, Mrs.
Antonius who were killed, he would have done the same to her murders, without
hesitation. “These many men shall die; their names are pricked.” His tablet of
death, containing all the people who contributed to, or were involved in the
conspiracy, shows his irrational anger towards the conspirators, not love for
Caesar. The anger is evident as fickle Plebeians declare “We’ll burn his body
in the holy place, And with the brands fire the traitors’ houses.” The town
people are so intent on capturing the emotions of the moment, that they have
basically forgotten Caesar, Brutus, and even Antony in their rage. During the
battles between the Conspirators and Antony, Brutus has the audience’s sympathy.
Once again, Caesar is at the back of their thoughts, and unimportant in the
unfolding of events.
Marcus Brutus is the protagonist of the play. He is the character that the
reader feels for, wants to win, and pities. When one realizes Caesar’s pompous,
classless attitude, he is labeled the antagonist, and is wanted dead. In every
aspect of the play earlier mentioned, Brutus is the driving force of nearly
everything that occurs. Caesar is but an after-thought of the reader, and is
realized as the inciting action, and nothing more. Brutus is, by all means, the
dominating force in the play.