Enjoy our “Julius Caesar” essay which considers issues of loyalty. Shakespeare displays in his Roman tragedy several types of politicians: the Cesarian, Marcus Antony, an insidious demagogue who is able to deceive murdererous conspirators after Caesar’s death and seduce the Roman crowd presented in the tragedy as an impersonal mob, which easily changes its affections, preferring someone who promises material benefits (which is skillfully done by Anthony); the Republican and Patrician, Cassius, the initiator of the conspiracy against Caesar, who hates him because of vanity and outraged pride, convinced that Caesar is no more worthy than any of his closest associates, to rule Rome; Brutus is an idealist politician, a person of firm convictions and the highest moral principles, he believes that others have such.
And he decides to participate in the murder of Caesar, to whom, unlike Cassius, he was a close friend, in whose loyalty Caesar never had any reason to doubt, because he is sincerely convinced that it will be better for the state, for Rome. To learn how loyalty is portrayed in the tragedy, read through our “Julius Caesar” essay.
How is loyalty portrayed in Julius Caesar? Please specifically address Antony, Brutus and Cassius in relation to Caesar.
William Shakespeare is a prolific person in the field of literature and drama, who is well-known for his works with a realistic plot. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar belongs to a list of the plays marking the writer’s unique approach to depict the historical events without any additional context. Apart from general critical peculiarities, Julius Caesar reveals Shakespeare’s perspective to the concept of loyalty. Though the title of the tragedy embodies the name of the famous historical figure, the names of the other three central characters may suit it at the same time. The point is that the plot develops around the relations of Caesar with Brutus, Antony, and Cassius, who similarly take a prominent position in the play. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare provided a specific plotline containing the concept of loyalty and revealed it differently by exemplifying the relationships between Caesar and Brutus, Antony, and Cassius separately.
In the list of the three characters, Shakespeare depicted three distinctive attitudes to the concepts of a state and a ruler. He described loyalty mainly in these contexts, which each of the heroes viewed and followed due to their individual life principles and ideas. The character of Brutus reveals the political figure with the firm convictions and high moral beliefs, who thinks that other citizens also follow them. He is a close friend of Caesar, who never doubted his loyalty to him. The image of Brutus is quite complicated due to the certain psychological features of his character given by Shakespeare in the tragedy. It is a well-known fact that at the end of both real story and Shakespeare’s play, Brutus appears a betrayer of Caesar. However, his individuality contains a critical controversy. In the very beginning of the tragedy, Brutus is shown as a reliable and noble person with an individual philosophical worldview. With the unique perspective, he attempts to acknowledge the particular patterns and possible vectors of development of his society. Only when he reaches a certain point and forms the strong view, Brutus can let himself have a specific attitude to events and people around him. The plot contains the conflict that develops over the Brutus personality. The core of the problem is the decision which Brutus makes when it comes to choosing friendship or welfare of the country. Brutus has no negative thoughts of Caesar, but he prefers not to allow his dictatorship to turn into a hereditary monarchy and, thus, give way to the further power abuse. His decision perfectly depicts in the following words: “And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg / Which, hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous, / And kill him in the shell” (Shakespeare 2.1.35-37). In overall, Brutus loyalty bears a unique character due to his political and philosophical perspective, which is challenging to state about other characters connected with Caesar.
Mark Antony has a sense of loyalty to Caesar, but in contrast to Brutus, it reveals differently. The character of Antony develops during the whole play. Shakespeare gives him two central features. The first depicts his readiness to fulfill every order of the ruler, what can be connected with Brutus loyalty to Caesar. Despite the fact that both are conspirators, Antony has another role in the tragedy, which is limited by his own perspective. Shakespeare describes him as a frivolous person with the interests defined by relaxing and celebrations. Secondly, Antony demonstrates his carelessness about the state and the way Caesar consolidates his power over the people, which can be explained by his reliance on him and, perhaps, the absence of a desire to even think about the possible adverse outcome. The situation fundamentally changes after the assassination of Caesar. The critical fact of it is that it is Brutus idea which he shares with Antony. However, as Lucking (2014) states, “the explanation that Brutus has promised in order to satisfy Antony that the assassination was necessary will never be produced” (129). Now, being aware of the critical political situation in the country, Antony develops his perspective and forms a number of the firm principles. A clear example is a scene when he applies to the people together with Brutus. Their speeches implicitly reveal two contradictory political tendencies in regards to the events of that time. By chairing the Republican conspiracy, Brutus intends to diminish the spirit of Caesar’s dictatorship whereas Antony predicts the rise of it (Shakespeare 3.1. 271-273). With such an outcome, Antony’s loyalty to Caesar turns into the commitment to his political principles.
The character of Cassius is probably the most complex psychological image among the others. A reader encounters an eventual, without any spontaneous features, the evolution of Cassius, in contrast to the previous characters. Shakespeare describes him a person inspired by the idea of fighting the tyranny, which he considers an adverse phenomenon of that era. These thoughts match the intentions of Brutus, although one thing makes the similarity between the characters impossible. The problem is that Caesar has no sympathy for Cassius in contrast to Brutus. This peculiarity contributes to distinctiveness in the characters’ parts in the play. It is represented in the words of Cassius: “Caesar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus: / If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius / He should not humour me” (1.2.279-281). Furthermore, the image of Cassius has a critical downside, which makes him more vulnerable in regards to the others. Being a person with the firm social and political position, he falls under the influence of the personal feelings that rise over the other, more important. According to Watts, “though calculating and crafty, Cassius, when compared to Antony and Octavius, seems soft-hearted” (72). But still, it does not prevent Cassius from being a strategic and pragmatic politician and bringing everything to a conclusion. The clear evidence of his calculating is the idea to kill Antony together with Caesar. In overall, Cassius has a particular feeling of loyalty to Caesar and the state, which is eventually overachieved by his own worryings.
In conclusion, the play contains a well-developed theme of loyalty depicted in the relations of Caesar with Brutus, Antony, and Cassius. A significant point about the tragedy is that Shakespeare revealed the concept of the loyalty differently through the images of three character, who participated in a conspiracy against their ruler. At the beginning of the play, Brutus and Antony appear as more strong individualities in comparison to Cassius. However, in the ned, they change their roles, and Cassius turns out to be a more pragmatic politician. In overall, the tragedy shows different ways and contexts of expressing loyalty.
- Lucking, David. “Brutus’s Reasons: Julius Caesar and The Mystery Of Motive.” English Studies 91.2 (2010): 119-132. Web. 14 Jan. 2018.
- Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. Print.
- Watts, Cedric. Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: A Critical Introduction. London: PublishNation, 2015. Print.
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