Brutus: Anything For Rome Essay, Research Paper
Kohlberg’s seven level morality scale illustrates his six stages of human development. The stages are split up into three levels, preconventional, conventional, and postconventional morality. Brutus’ loyalty and need to preserve the goodness of Rome is a continuous personal theme for him throughout the play. He has this intense loyalty to Rome and follows the moral standards set by the society. Brutus exemplifies the characteristics of a person at stage five, the social contract, which can be found in the postconventional level.
Brutus believes that the welfare of Rome is the most important thing and will do almost anything to help preserve the good of Rome. He honestly believes that true Romans think the same way and are completely loyal to Rome. This idealistic aspect of Brutus is displayed when his fellow conspirators want everyone to swear an oath of allegiance to the conspirators and their cause. He states, “No not an oath . . . what other oath/Than honesty to honesty engag’d/That this shall be, or we will fall for it?” (804). Modesty and society determined moral standards are also personality traits of Brutus. He believes in following the laws and morals of the people as a whole. These thoughts and beliefs determine what he does all over the play.
To conserve the welfare of Rome is continually Brutus’ justification for his actions. Throughout the play, the benefit of Rome is the reason behind all of Brutus’ actions. In the beginning of the play, Cassius tries to convince Brutus to join the conspirators against Caesar. When Cassius does this, Brutus does not join them at first because he believes that by doing that he would be going against Rome. During that conversation Brutus says, “I do fear the people/Choose Caesar for their king./. . . I would not [choose Caesar as king], Cassius, yet I love him well.” (785). Even though he does not want Caesar as emperor, he believes in the consensus and allowing the people to decide. This is also a main characteristic of people in stage five. Brutus is later convinced to join the conspirators and reasons to himself that some laws must be bent in order to benefit Rome. A prime example of this is when Brutus assists the conspirators in killing Caesar. Although this is against the law, he felt that it was necessary in order to preserve the well-being of Rome. As he said at Caesar’s funeral, “Not that I lov’d Caesar less, but that I lov’d Rome more.” (830).
Numerous characters in the play perceive Brutus in different ways. At the start of it, Brutus is seen by everyone as a moral and honorable man. This respect and admiration the people have for Brutus can be seen when Cassius says to him, “I have heard/Where many of the best respect in Rome/Speaking of Brutus/And . . ./Have wish’d that noble Brutus had his eyes.” (784). Although Cassius is simply trying to convince Brutus to join the conspirators when he says this, simply the fact that Cassius wants Brutus to join the conspirators because of his good reputation and name shows how Brutus is perceived by the Roman citizens. Even Caesar thinks of Brutus as a noble and honorable friend. Brutus maintains this reputation even after assisting in the murder of Caesar. This changes, however, after Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral. He thoroughly states his reasons for killing Caesar, and all of the Romans praise Brutus for what he did. Yet after Antony speaks, the citizens yell enraged, “They were traitors . . . villains, murderers.” (835). They then proceeded to track all of the conspirators down in an attempt to rid Rome of them. People’s perception of him changes yet again after his death. Antony and Octavius who are attempting to defeat Brutus at the time of his death find him dead. They grieve his death, Antony says, “This was the noblest Roman of them all;/He, only in a general honest thought/And common good to all, made one of [the conspirators].” (870).
Brutus truly exemplifies the characteristics of a person during the fifth stage of development. He shows major concern for the welfare of Rome and bases almost all of his thoughts and actions on that concern. He also exemplifies the moral standards set by the society and is a respected and honorable man.